No, I wasn’t on Lost. (Although how totally awesome would THAT have been???)
Last year before I moved into the wonderful home I have now – The Big Guy and I had three months where we lived in a very “interesting” (read: ghetto) residential hotel. We lost the month-to-month lease for the place we had been renting (the landlord wanted to rent to family) and we had JUST put the offer in to purchase our current home. No one wants to rent to someone for 4-20 weeks, so we opted for the hotel.
Now, I’m not sure if any of you have thought of the cost of living in a hotel for 3 months. My first thought when we decided to “hotel it” was to go to one of the big corporate residential chains and call it done. Then, I did a price check. Um, sooooooo very much not in my price range. We still had some down payment to save for and these places were going to cost 2 to 3 times our normal rent! So, we started checking the seedier establishments. They kept getting seedier and seedier. But, at the very bottom of the list we found one we could afford. The extra bonus was that it had a kitchenette and allowed us to park two cars in the lot.
Now, first, let’s get this straight. I am VERY thankful that this hotel was available and that we had a roof over our heads. But, I entered into my stay there looking at it as “life experience” and “an adventure”. Please take any snarky finger-pointing that follows in the good nature it is intended. I’m glad these places exist – because many, many people need and use them – including me.
Anyhoo… On to the snarky finger pointing!
This place, The Island, exposed me to a part of society for which my upper-middle class upbringing had not prepared me. How do you want to pay? That would be cash. Checks? No. Credit Cards? Not so much… I actually balked at this: a hotel that doesn’t accept credit cards?!?! Luckily – The Big Guy was prepared with good ol’ cash. The very friendly staff provided us with a contract (!) that had to be read and agreed to before they would rent us the space. This contract was provided to us in a drawer that was slid under a ceiling-high plexiglass bandit barrier. (Again – ?!?!) This contract included choice tidbits such as: no refunds – NO exceptions!, a housekeeper MUST be allowed access to the room at least once each week, minors may not be outside their room without an adult after 10pm, and my favorite: no “fraternizing” with the housekeeping staff. And, in case we forgot these rules were written on a 10-foot high sign behind the check in desk. The plexi- bandit barrier also had some choice signs and notices pasted to it including one professionally printed sign that had been hand “corrected” to include spelling and grammar errors. Freaking priceless.
We moved into our new home in about 5 minutes. Suitcases, sleeping bags, box o’ food, cooler chest of fridge items, about 8 houseplants and the (contraband) microwave and DVD player we had just signed a contract stating we did not have in our possession. (Seems the building is old and the electronics might be a slight fire hazard. Whatever.)
I had been briefed by The Big Guy prior to entering the room of what the “rules” for our stay would be: coverlet would be removed from the bed and tossed in the corner never to be touched again – we would sleep on top of the sheets in our sleeping bags; no looking under the bed or too closely at the walls – you probably don’t want to find what might be lurking there; no walking on the floor with bare feet; and all windows would keep their drapes drawn at all times so no one could see into our space. (Doesn’t this just make you want to run out and live here?!?!)
The first night was finished up with frozen dinners eaten with plastic forks sitting on the bed and watching the second half of Avatar on HBO. I had already broken one rule by looking at the wall next to my nightstand. Heebie jeebies ensued. (I would rather not say what was on the wall – but I will mention it had been there a long time and still grosses me out.)
All in all – I was kind of enjoying myself. I felt like I was in some world that had been hidden right under my nose my whole life and now I was “an insider”. Adventure was on my brain. I had heard stories about this place – after all it was (and still is) a frequent “contributor” to the police blotter in the local newspapers. I might see cars towed against their owner’s will! I might see a drug bust/ police raid! Prostitution action right outside my front door! Lions and tigers and bears – oh my!
The other things were just a bonus. I had asked at the front desk if we were supplied cable for our $33+ tax a night. I was ensured we were and was handed an HBO schedule in east coast time. Little did I know that for the next four months I would be watching Fox, HBO or self-supplied DVD’s. Yes, you read that correctly – we didn’t even get reception of local network channels. However, being that the remote control supplied was not for the television in our room, the lack of channel surfing ability might have been a blessing. Far less time is spent getting up and changing the channel when you have minimal options.
So, Day One of my adventure ended with me going to sleep in a sleeping bag on a bad mattress in a skeevy room. The irony? It was quieter than the quaint little duplex in the nice neighborhood we had just moved out of earlier that evening – since we no longer had to deal with the Jamaican bar we had right outside our backyard. (Live and learn folks – unless you really can sleep through a war, never rent a place that close to a bar regardless of what the landlord says about the noise level.) I had my flip flops next to the bed and was warmer than I’d been in weeks since the wall heater was on full blast now that we didn’t have to pay the energy bill. I fell asleep with visions of adventure in my head.
Stay tuned for more on my life at The Island in the future. Many of my “adventure” dreams DID come true!