Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Worst Hotel I Ever Stayed In

I was surprised to come across this postcard, from the “Absolute Worst Business Hotel I Ever Stayed In”. What possessed me to keep it (and not even mail it to myself) I’ll never know. Must be my predilection for postcards.

One of my advertising assignments was the launch of Chun King Frozen Oriental Entrees. As was often the case, a factory tour was part of the learning-about-the-product process. Chun King Entrees were one of many products manufactured at the world’s largest frozen food plant in Russellville, Arkansas.

Russellville, Arkansas is not easy to get to. First, fly to Little Rock, Arkansas – at the time an airport with only six gates. Then, rent a car and drive two+ hours to Russellville. It is definitely in the middle of nowhere.

I was traveling with my two clients, one senior to the other, but both men. When we arrived at 8 PM at the hotel where we were supposed to be staying, somehow there was no reservation for me. “No room at the inn”, was the message from the person at the front desk, “but there’s a motel down the road”. Rather than offering to double up, or even helping me look into it, my clients looked at me, handed me the keys to the rental car, instructed me to “be back at 8 AM”, and disappeared into their respective rooms.

My memory tells me I went to the car, drove down the road and into the parking lot of the motel, along with the semis and pick-ups, off the interstate. I remember being a bit uncomfortable as a young woman on her own, in a motel with doors facing the parking lot and flimsy windows opening onto the walkways. I stayed at cheap, dirty, questionable even sleazy hotels all over Latin America when I traveled there. But somehow I was flabbergasted that my clients gave not a moment’s thought to safety or security or even common courtesy on a business trip they had asked me to accompany them on.

It’s often a conflict – being treated like an equal in business and being seen as a woman. I can’t imagine that either of these men would be comfortable with their own wives being sent alone to a rural motel, in the dark, at night, in a place she'd never been. Can we have it both ways or is that asking too much? What do you think? Have you ever been in a situation like this?


  1. It could be asking too much...poor little Mar!! Most of my working life was spent with ex Marines who didn't think a woman was worth as much as a man...although no one could do my job better than I could.
    I remember telling my boss about you and he did not believe you earned so much. He really did not believe me.

  2. Hi Mary--yes, this happened to me once in Las Vegas. I was traveling with a client to a industry tradeshow. In the middle of the night, a fire closed down the hotel we were staying at. As an alternative, they moved us into a stripmall motel, complete with the flimsy windows and trucks that you describe in your post. In addition there were lots of odd noises in the adjoining rooms and people coming and going all night long. I remember being so freaked out that I slept in my clothes--would not even touch the bedsheets--and called my Mom in the morning in tears.

  3. Fortunately, some clients are a bit more evolved. Back in CT, one of my clients invited me to stay w/ his family after there was an incident in my apt building. Unfortunately, there are still some disgusting hotels! Thankfully, even the lowest star Chinese hotel provides slippers. They have not figured out to manage the escorts who dial all the rooms looking for a male voice!

  4. I think that sometimes men do not even see the vulnerabilities that women notice, their perspectives are different because their fears are different.

    I once spent the night in a hotel in Naples where the door jambs showed that every room on our floor had been forced open with a crow bar. My boyfriend was not concerned at all and went right to sleep, while I dragged every bit of furniture I could over to bar the door. He still laughs about it to this day, and I still cannot fathom his reaction. In his eyes I am paranoid since nothing happened to us.