Lessons Learned The Hard Way – No. 13

26 05 2008

When checking into a hotel, always ensure you know which floor you’re on.


It was a dark and stormy night…


We were racing through the darkness with low clouds obliterating the overhead lights, rain driving into the headlamps, and enormous airborne rooster-tails of water battering the windscreen. Just after 10pm, with white knuckles wrapped around the steering wheel, we turned off the autobahn and into an enormous truck stop. After a bite in the restaurant we headed to the motel in search of a room.


The building was two floors high and dissolved into the wet gloom in either direction. We sprinted through the rain, received a key from reception and proceeded to the elevators. Much to my surprise, the floors were in descending order with 5th being the first floor, 4th being the ground floor reception and 1st being the sub- sub- sub-basement lowest. We dropped several floors before arriving at the usual windowless anonymous hotel/motel corridor. The room was compact, neat and completely functional. Although four floors beneath ground, there were faux windows with metal shutters on them to at least provide the illusion of being above ground.


I’m not claustrophobic, but lying there in the dark knowing there was 40 feet of concrete, steel and earth pressed on the ceiling and separating me from the fresh air above was a rather odd and disconcerting feeling. Although it beat being outside in the pouring rain, it was still, well, a little bit too much like being buried alive for my liking.


After a restless night, when the wake-up call sounded I initially didn’t know where I was. I rubbed my eyes before remembering that I was in a subterranean burial chamber. From across the room I discerned what appeared to be slivers of light seeping through the edges of the metal shutters. I walked over and as I got closer could see light streaming through every crack and edge. I also noticed a small handle and opened the window and shutter.


There before me lay a valley, rolling away as far as the eyes could see, hills and little woods of trees beyond, all in damp and verdant green. I stuck my head out to discover that my subterranean world was not subterranean at all…it was actually located on the edge of a steep hillside: two floors on the highway-side, and six floors on the valley side. I breathed in the fresh air.  In the daylight, the room was instantly transformed from a tomb-raided pharaoh’s burial vault into a regular sun-soaked hotel room.


I happily headed for the bathroom with the weight of the world – and 40 feet of soil – eased from my shoulders.


Post by: Simon Vaughan © 2008



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