Saturday, February 25, 2012

Travelodge Frostbite, Chilliwack, BC

Everyone can have a bad day.  An individual doesn't necessarily represent an organization.  I was not at my best. I have a cold, with a little fever and chills.  I chose the Travelodge in Chilliwack for rest and recuperation. If I wasn't sick I might well have camped out in the blizzard. I've made and stayed in Igloos. I'm no hot house plant by any means.  I'm a survivalist and wilderness ready.
A blizzard had struck the interior that  morning. Arctic air was flowing through the valley.  I had left the cold coast to come to the colder interior.  I nearly froze leaving the car and going into the hotel.  Registration went normally, though. I should have listened to the music that played in the background.  It's the same music that is played in movies when a woman is in the shower and the shadow of knife is moving across the wall.
I went into the room.  I had the false expectation of comfort.  I saw my breath. This should have been a clue. Instead being a person  generally considered computer  savy I had a go at the thermostat Hal.  The fan blew cold air and then colder air.  Standing still in my coat, having had to take off my gloves to push the buttons, I called the front desk. She told me that I had to increase the temperature in increments of 4 degrees or the machine got angry.  I didn't want Hal angry.  Doing exactly as she told me, I increased the thermostat incrementally while feeling the fan blowing colder air.
I called her back.  She said that I must be doing something wrong.  I felt stupid and looked at Hal,digitally grinning. She said she'd send housekeeping.  House keeping arrived and cranked up the thermostat to 80.
 I told her, "the girl at the front desk said that wouldn't work. She said it would make it go colder."
The house keeping girl  went over to the fan and said ,"see it's already getting warmer".  I felt it and the air seemed colder but I was having fever and chills so couldn't be sure.   When house keeping left, Laura felt it and said ,"It's still cold."  Gilbert, with a full coat of hair, was romping about thinking this was the coolest room.
"Let's go to the restaurant. It should be warmed up when we get back, " I said. We dropped Gilbert off in the truck as yet unable to convince restaurants he's a person trapped in a dog's body.
Lunch at the Pantry was great. Our men's Bible study used to meet here years ago.  I liked the very pleasant young man who efficiently served us. When it came time to pay for our food though the line up of people wanting to pay their bills went around the building.  "The debit card pay machine is pretty slow" he said with knowing understatement.  I knew we were in the country but this was Deliverance slow technology.
We collected Gilbert from the truck and headed back to our room.  It was even colder than we'd left it.  There was now a snow man with a carrot for a nose between the beds.  I phoned the front desk to say that the room was still freezing. Obviously something was wrong with the thermostat,  Hal was actually digitally singing and omninous noises came from the keening fan. I told her we needed another room or we'd have to go to another hotel. "I'm sick. I have  fever and chills.  I need warmth. It's colder in here than outside."
"If you wait a minute, " she said, "I'll see about finding you another room."
I sat looking at my breath watching Gilbert bounce about,  either because it was so cold he felt invigorated or because movement kept his blood flowing. I felt awful.  I really felt awful. I waited.
I opened the door to let the hallway heat in.  The girl from housekeeping was there, standing with a guy and the two just looked at me, like I was some sort of alien.  These  couple of Invasion of the Body Snatchers sorts staring at me like I am a major inconvenience didn't make things better.
We waited.  I told Laura.  "I can't stay here. I've got to go out to my truck and get some heat happening."
"It's been long enough for them to do something." Laura said.
We picked up our bags and headed to the front desk.  As I was passing housekeeping, I said to the girl, "the girl at the front desk said that you were wrong to increase the heat to 30 because it only works if you increase it by 4 degrees at a time. "   She actually rolled her eyes,  turned her back and walked away.  I realized Hal was capable of a whole lot more than what the front desk girl believed. Housekeeping obviously knew the room was haunted.   Laura and I walked on to the front desk.
"I called because there was no heat in our room," I said.
The girl at the front desk became very haughty indeed.
"I had another guest  to check in.  I couldn't deal with you right away."
"Well, I'm going to find another hotel then. "  I said. "I've phoned about this problem. It was supposed to be fixed. It's not. And you told me you'd get me another room right away."  I seriously can't remember when I've expressed such displeasure with service.  I think the last time I got as upset was 40 years ago when I was bit by bed bugs in overseas hotel room crawling with cockroaches.
"I've talked to the house keeping girl and told her how you have to increase the heat by 4 degrees only or it turns on air conditioning ." she said.  I thought that the strangest thing since to get the room warm I'd have had to stand there increasing the heat 6 or 8 times to unthaw a human body. Down the hall the house keeping girl was staring at us with a serious pout and hands on her hips.
"It's been our second call and a couple of hours," Laura said.
"It wasn't me," the front desk girl  pretty well shouted back at Laura.  Laura was suddenly even more unhappy than me.  "It doesn't matter that it wasn't you."  she said, aghast, "We are the guests here.  We've spoken to the front desk several times about this problem."
"It wasn't me you spoke to" the girl said looking livid, "  I don't know why you are being so difficult with me. I just got on and you're causing me all this trouble.  You're being so unkind when I've got  you another room. I'll show you."
Somewhere during this little girl's defensive self pity rant, Laura had turned on her heel and walked out of the hotel.
"I've got you another room with heat right next to your room," the front desk girl said frantically to me. I thought this would have been useful information earlier.  "I don't know if it's heated up now but you can look at," she said.  I was exhausted so followed her into a room that seemed warmer. I couldn't see my breath at least.   I went back to the front and called to Laura saying they have another room.
Laura was outside by the truck and responded. "You're going to stay there after she practically shouted at me. The way they treated us, why would you want to stay there."
I realized that this was just how people travelling through towns staying in strange hotels woke up without body parts and strange surgical scars which hadn't been there the night before.
I certainly wasn't going to go back  there.
I said to the girl, "I'm afraid we're still leaving."
I asked if there was some cancellation or anything as I'd made reservations earlier in the week, given her my credit card, signed away my life, given buchal smears for DNA testing, a sample of the dog's blood, as well as paw prints when I checked in.  She said, "there's nothing and there will be no charges."
We called the Comfort Inn.
"Yes we have rooms and are pet friendly, " Selena said.
"Yes, all our rooms have heat." she added, a bit surprised by the question. After her answer I presumed that other hotels in Chilliwach probably provided heat as well and only the Travellodge considered that an optional winter addition.
We drove to the Comfort Inn, Chilliwack BC, next to the Sears off Hwy I on Luckakuck Road that runs parallel to Hwy I, beside 'Ricky's Restaurant'.
Selena, the young attractive woman who was working at the front desk was a charm.  Professional, capable, welcoming. We told her our story of being put in a butcher's meat locker at the Travelodge and how we were now convinced that the place had been taken over by cannibals.  She good naturedly assured us, the Comfort Inn was only about what the name implied.  She was a very human and warm hearted young woman.
The room was magnificent. It was warm and comfortable, a large suite with lovely decor.   Gilbert immediately lay down at the foot of the bed and went to sleep.  Home Sweet Home.

1 comment:

Ben Nuttall-Smith said...

Luckily you weren't hitchhiking. I've had a few misadventures like that, but not in this part of the world. Nothing worse than being cold.
"Many are cold but few are frozen"
Matthew 22:14