• Albury: Not quite the Bates Motel
    August 25,2014

    Every so often it’s good to get away from home. I had a chance to travel out of town to train for my job, and was looking forward to stepping out of my comfort zone and visiting a new place. When I heard the seminar I was chosen to attend would take place in Boston I was very excited. There would be so much to do and see.

    After arriving in Beantown last Sunday, I went to my hotel room and received the schedule for the week. The euphoria of a fantasy vacation was immediately tempered by the reality of employer-funded training. A review of the agenda revealed the sessions started at seven in the morning and ended at five in the evening. While this would certainly make for a long day, I figured there would still be plenty of hours left before bedtime to have fun in the big city. As it turns out, my math did not take into consideration the exhaustion factor.

    For 10 hours a day I have been drilled with enough data, statistics and procedures to sink a ship, two dinghies, and a swimmer with decent arm floaties. At the conclusion of each training segment, I don’t have enough active brain cells present for a quorum in a committee of one. After the first day my energy was completely drained, but I was still determined to have a good time on this trip. Heck, all of the fun I needed could be found right here in the hotel.

    That night I entertained the idea of going for a swim. Unfortunately, the only opportunity for this activity at the hotel was splashing around in a salt water pool. I’m guessing the person who came up with the concept of a salt water pool thought that by adding sodium chloride, you could increase the pleasure of getting chlorine in your eyes and accidently swallowing stagnant old water used by thousands of juvenile hotel guests with suspect bladder control. Being on a low sodium diet, I opted against going for a dip and decided to visit the hotel workout room.

    The on-site gym, which was almost big enough to fit a queen-sized bed, had a treadmill, a small selection of dumbbells, and a magazine rack. I got on the treadmill for a quick run. Just as I was reaching a respectable pace I looked up and saw a sign that read, “No Smoking.” I was immediately forced to get off the treadmill and extinguished my cigar.

    Deciding I had had enough exercise for one day, I went up to my room to take a shower. This reliable activity would have been very pleasant if there was even a trace of hot water. The shower was so icy-cold I found myself shrieking and hugging the back wall like a 165-pound refrigerator magnet. I would like to say it was miserable. But it wasn’t that good. When the trauma of the shower wore off, I got dressed and went down to the hotel bar for a beer.

    Things were starting to look up, as the lounge was quite enjoyable. I finished my beverage and asked the bartender for my bill. “There must be some mistake,” I told him, looking at the astronomical amount on the slip of paper. “I’m not picking up the tab for that table of pilots and flight attendants. I just want to pay for my beer.”

    He looked at the bill. “You’re right,” he said. “This isn’t correct. I forgot to add the tax.” Unless I hit the lottery, spending time at the bar was not going to be a viable option for passing time.

    I retreated to my room with a much lighter wallet. I don’t have TV at home, and the last thing I wanted to do was to get sucked into spending hours each night watching mindless programs on the boob tube. Actually, this was the second to the last thing I wanted to do. The last thing I wanted to do was read the Gideon Bible and the Book of Mormon on the nightstand. Before I knew it, the TV was on and I was watching the hijinks of Spongebob Squarepants and the rest of the crowd at Bikini Bottom.

    That was almost a week ago. Now I can’t wait to get done with training each day in order to get back to the hotel room and find the answers to pressing questions that consume me. Will Spongebob be able to find help to remodel his pineapple? Will Mr. Krabs have to give out free Krabby Patties in order to win back the customers Plankton has driven away? Will Spongebob and Patrick be able to provide wheelchair bound Squidward with a “Best Day Ever?”

    I think it’s just about time to head back home.

    Mark S. Albury lives in Northield Falls.

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