To buy myself a hours of study time during the week I decided to spend the night in a hotel after my evening class.*
Being the meticulous traveler that I am, I researched every hotel in the area and chose two nice moderately priced places with character and more importantly, free internet.
I went to the first one and told the gal I needed a safe and quiet place to study. After we talked for a while, I said, “If you were staying at a place out of town by yourself would you stay here?” She kind of looked around to see if anyone was watching and then mouthed “No” at me. Apparently the bars across the street get a little rowdy. Thanks, anyway.
The second place was my first choice to begin with. It’s beautifully situated and charming and isolated — more B&B-like than hotel. I told the gal my situation and she says, “I’ll have to check. We don’t normally rent to…”
(Surely she’s not going to say “Asians,” I think. She’s young and has that “Thandie Newton” kind of look to her and a gentle accent so I couldn’t place where she’s from.)
“Individuals?” I say.
“College students? Is that an age thing or an occupation thing?”
“An occupation thing, I think.”
“Well then say something else. Say, ‘Technical writer’ or ‘Teacher’s Assistant.’ Do you need to talk to anyone in my department to verify my employment? (My inner voices are getting riled up at this point.)”
“Will anyone under 18 be staying with you?”
“What? No. Just me.”
“And what about your girlfriends? Will you invite them to your room to have parties?”
“I’m thirty-six years old. Those days are LONG over for me,” I say with my teeth gritted, my jaw starting to lock into Whoop-Ass Mode.
FauxThandie continues, “Do you have any proof of your employment?”
I start digging through my bag. Mercifully, a managerial-looking guy appeared behind the desk. “I think I have my pay stub.”
Manager-guy says, “That’s okay, we trust you.”
My inner voices are going crazy now. I was very careful about what I chose to wear today. Serious, not frumpy. Mature but not dowdy. TA, not student. PhD, not Undergrad. I look down and to my horror my jacket had come unzipped, revealing my t-shirt underneath:
No, not really! The only thing I can think is that she’s inexperienced and doesn’t know what a grad student is.
So I did end up staying there and loved it. Did I listen to my inner voices were screaming about how much the place reminded them of The Shining? No, I did not. Did I get any work done? Not as much as I’d planned.**
When I checked out and FauxThandie was totally nice and I was so pleased and completely in love with the place. And THEN she says as I’m walking out the door, “Have a fun day at school!”
Sweet Fancy Moses.
*I’m so glad I made that decision because this class is my personal mental marathon, worse than my body-prison class of last semester. Remember my professor whom I accidentally called “loser?” The man is a teddy bear compared to my theory prof. I’ll just call the new guy “Niska.” Which I understand is only amusing to me and fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly who know that Niska likes to stretch people to their absolute last limits of endurance,…and then death.
**It’s that mom thing where you’re paralyzed with disbelief at the good fortune of having a whole king-sized bed sans threat of spending the night clinging to the bed by one butt-cheek to make room for the kid who wanders in at 3am.