Moteling in California

“Roll up the windows and lock the doors,” my husband said as he and the kids went to check out our motel room just off the highway in northern California. I looked at him in surprise. The place looked nice enough, though there had been a police car in the driveway.


A few minutes later they were back. “The police were pounding on someone’s door,” the kids said. “They said, “This is the police, open up!’” My husband reported, “The cop said it would be fine to stay here.”

And it was. But the next morning, while helping ourselves to the motel’s continental breakfast, we couldn’t help but overhear a heated discussion between a wiry, bearded man in his 60s with the woman working behind the desk. His hair was shaggy, his clothes were untucked, and he was irate. “I’ve been staying here every year for the past 10 years, and you’ve never charged me for my local calls before,” he said again and again in various word combinations until he saw my husband waiting for his bread to toast.

“You wouldn’t be safe if it weren’t for me!” the man said, his voice elevated. “If you’re not going to fight,” he stared at my husband. “You might as well move to Brazil!”

Choosing to ignore him, we ate our breakfast on the sunny curb outside the motel. A few moments later, the police arrived, but we headed for the car. We’d had enough excitement for that motel and drove away, heading for our next destination.

Trip taken 2010.

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