. . . TO GET TO A BETTER HOTEL.
#1 Lesson I’ve learned while traveling with my family: If you don’t like your surroundings, CHANGE THEM.
This is so basic and yet so cosmic. It all started with a crappy hotel, which, for legal purposes, we’ll call the Skeraton. We began our stay with a ride from the burned-out parking garage on the world’s most repulsive, vandalized, rickety, freight elevator. After a less-than-lovely reception at check-in, we opened the door to a wave of damp, vaguely dog urine-esque aroma. The toilet was suspiciously still running, and we noticed the upholstery was coming apart in every direction. Alas, we were exhausted and somewhat confused. Hadn’t we agreed to pay SEVERAL hundred dollars a night for this place? It couldn’t be that bad, right?
We dropped our bags, ordered food and went to check out the pool, which had been the highlight of our campaign to get the three year old excited about the trip. Stepping off the elevator, I thought we were in Downtown Baghdad. It literally looked like a bomb had detonated. There was scaffolding everywhere, exposed heating ducts, demolished floors, ripped up carpet and, again, that damp, dog urine smell (Is this some sort of a signature Skeraton Room Freshener?). We peeked into the dark pool area and saw a slimy, triangular-shaped, 4 foot deep wading pool that I could smell right through the thick pane of filthy glass.
When I couldn’t sleep at 4 a.m. – the toilet was STILL running – I went to the bathroom, turned on my computer and typed in www.marriott.com. I would now like to go on record as the new spokeswoman for Marriott. This is the greatest company on the planet. Within 7 minutes, I had booked a Junior Suite, bigger than my NYC apartment, within walking distance to everything, and the price was almost exactly the same.
I cried when I opened the door to room 8105. I literally cried. I felt like a large Southern woman had opened the door to her plantation-style home and handed me a steaming plate of homemade, buttery biscuits. The carpets were clean! The toilet was fully functioning! There was a sink, a mini-kitchen, a huge, gorgeous bed, a sitting area and a freaking dining room for six, all laid out beautifully . . . AND a divine absence of dog urine to boot!
So that’s my takeaway from this family adventure. If things around you are rotten, change them. It’s one of the most sublime gifts we have. No, you can’t force your neighbors to stop being soul-sucking, space-invading menaces, but you CAN actually exert healthy, non-crazy-pants control over a few very important things in this world. Just figure out which things you have to accept and which things you can change and CHANGE THEM. And, if you smell dog urine, call Marriott.