The worst motel I ever stayed in is probably a five-way tie. Each has qualities sufficiently bad as to warrant the top spot, depending on the day and what I remember about them. I will not use the names, even though they should be fairly easy to pick out if you were ever in the town.
First on the list (covered in this post), is the one I spent the most time in: a motel we stayed in doing an audit in Dumas, Arkansas. The thing was built in the 1940’s or so. Painted cinder blocks divided each room and there were threadbare carpets without padding covering the concrete floors.
There were two sides to the place, the “new” and the “old.” The only difference, as far as I could tell was the new side had that thin fake wood paneling glued to the cinder blocks and the carpet had not hit middle age yet, but it could drive and drink, which brings me to the lounge and restaurant there.
Well, actually, nothing would bring you to the restaurant and lounge other than desperation. But, we spent about 10 weeks a year there and while the only restaurants in Dumas (that Motel, a Pizza Hut, a Kosher BBQ place and the soda fountain at the drug store) lacked, the drive to Greenville, Mississippi or Pine Bluff or the shrimp boil place just across the border into Louisiana on Hwy 165 for something decent did get old and we would get tired and just make do. Sometimes making do meant going to Piggly Wiggly and getting lunchmeat and bread and maybe a frozen cream pie and going back to the motel room (ah, the glamorous life of a Big 8 certified public accountant). But, breakfasts were generally good there.
One Tuesday, there was a rain delay at the World Series, which just happened to be ladies night at the lounge, which can be fun to watch, so we headed over there. After half an hour, we decided the rain-delay was more interesting, sent someone to the Piggly WIggly for supplies and setteled in.
My third year on this assignment, I found out there was a bridal suite there. Why, I could not imagine, but as it was only $5 more a night, I rented it. It was nothing more than a 30×30 room with the same style double bed as the rest of the rooms a, but it had a couch and a couple of seats in it, so we would sit and watch the baseball playoffswithout having to all sit ont he beds or on the floor. These jobs were continuous weeks. We would check out on Friday and because we were coming back on Monday, and very few stayed there over the weekend, we would pay the motel a couple of bucks to be able to leave all our stuff in the rooms. It was just more convenient that way.
So, one Friday morning, the manager tells me I have two choices: either pay the forty bucks a night for the three nights to keep the room or move my stuff to someone else’s room. Apparently, someone had rented the bridal suite and was taking their honeymoon in Dumas, which is an event so off-the-wall as to be the basis of a great short story in and of itself, but I digress. Forty bucks a night for three nights was not something I thought I could slip by the office manager then, so I moved my stuff to another staff member’s room.
When we pulled in Monday morning, the bridal suite had burned—the happy couple had used their charcoal grille in it and things got out of control and it caught fire. The fire couldn’t spread because of all the concrete, but it did wipe out the only decent room in the place. We had four more weeks there—16 nights. I probably could have slithered an extra $10 a day through on the old expense report and never forgave myself for being such a tightwad.
I tried to find a picture of this place, but apparently it is gone now, or the site of Day’s Inn or something.
The other places were in Bridgeport, Nebraska; Wewoka, Oklahoma; Bossier City, Louisiana, and Thermopolis, Wyoming. These will be the subject of other postings.