Me: Why do you do that? We don't need mini soaps and mini shampoo bottles.
Mark: Yeah we do.
Mark has been going to Vermont for a bi-annual meeting since 1992 and every time he comes home he tells me that I need to go with him the next time. This summer was next time and he booked us at an inn in the town of Chester. Green, rolling hills and mountains, fresh air, peaceful lakes smooth as glass with not even the whisper of a boat motor or skidoo. That state is a showstopper in the looks department.
We got into Boston, picked up our rental car and drove to Vermont via a few stops along the way including a fish and chips lunch on a coastal town in New Hampshire. Land locked in Kansas, we are giddy as soon as we get a glimpse of water. When we get out of the car and can smell the salty air we are ecstatic. Things were off to a good start. Our estimated time of arrival to the inn got delayed a bit by a driving rainstorm but I called to let them know we were on our way and would be there soon. The inn is owned and operated by a husband and wife and the husband checked us in. We walked up to the 2nd floor thumping our luggage behind us with each step and opened the door to Country Living circa 1980 and a full-size bed. Decor wise there was plenty wrong with this room but the most glaring problem was the bed. We weren't staying with relatives. We paid for comfort. "You didn't book a full-size bed, did you?" I asked Mark. "I don't think so," he said in a manner that conveyed that he had no idea and didn't care.
The next morning we went downstairs to a breakfast buffet of bagels, fruit, waffles and scones. Oh the scones!! They were fabulous. We met Mrs. Innkeeper who was running the food show. The Mr. showed up a bit later and told us that they take Sundays off and we wouldn't see them around after breakfast but that if we needed anything to ring the bell.
Mark had to make a trip to the conference center, register and pick up his packet. He came back and picked me up and we went back to the opening night happy hour and dinner. We let ourselves into the inn that night with our front door key and it was quiet. Very quiet.
The next morning I drove Mark to his meeting and puttered around the small town we were in - going to all the shops and antique stores. When I came back it was very quiet. Mark had the afternoons off but he needed the first couple of days to get ready for his talk so we stayed around the inn and not once did I notice anyone else except Mr. Innkeeper who had decided that week to fix the roof that was outside our window. The following morning I drove Mark once again and came back to shower and head out for the day. It was eerily quiet again and when I ran into Mrs. Innkeeper I asked her if there were any other guests staying. "Nope, you're the only ones. There's usually not much going on the beginning of the week and then we start getting more guests closer to the weekend." Oh, so that explains why it feels like we're squatters.
I picked Mark up and told him it was just us and Mr. and Mrs.
The next day I overheard the innkeepers talking and he angrily said to his wife, "I'm never using that again. These people didn't even pay full price. We got ripped off." Was he talking about us? I repeated to Mark what I heard and asked him how he booked our room. "Booking.com." "Was the rate really discounted because I think it's you and me that that guy was talking about." Mark couldn't remember as the room had been booked and charged to our credit card months ago.
Going out the following morning there was a breakthrough at the front desk. Mr. Innkeeper talked to me!!!! "I have to go up on the roof again today. Do you know how hot it is up there?" I looked at him. He looked at me. "I can only imagine," I said but upstairs my head was having a different conversation. What is your problem? I didn't cause your roof to leak, I didn't put a discounted rate on booking.com and if I were going to complain about somebody who paid to be in my EMPTY inn I'd do it where they couldn't hear me. How about you tuck that attitude back into your sweaty, innkeeper pants and take an online charm school class. Buster.
After those initial, awkward days we kept busy (and away) from the inn until well after dark - the last day being an incredible drive to Maine. Upon checking out of the Bates Hotel, Mr. Innkeeper said to us, "Come back again and next time call me direct to book your room."
We flashed him a smile - the kind we usually reserve for door-to-door solicitors and thanked him for his
I patted my purse with its pilfered mini shampoos and soap and the extra scones from breakfast I had taken and wrapped in a napkin to be eaten later. If the toilet paper wasn't prison grade I would have heisted a couple of rolls of that too.