I'm on the road and pondering the lessons of business travel.
Make that "Pondering why I just violated a lesson of business travel."
Earlier today - in a fit of being overly cautious - I made a reservation using a number for a motel where I'd stayed before. The reservation agent announced that the motel has changed hands. Bells and whistles should have gone off at that stage, but I trudged on through the phone call and booked a room.
Later today, as I walked into the lobby, other alarms were ringing. The overall appearance of the place had deteriorated. The staff was fine but not impressive.
And then I saw it.
Right behind the front desk was a permanent sign:
"We apologize for the train noise."
Now I've seen some pretty catchy customer service signs before, but this is not one of them. In fact, it may be one notch above "We apologize for the gunfire in the parking lot."
A rush of memories soon came down the track. The train noise, as I recall, wasn't all that bad, but I can probably plan on Casey Jones chugging through around 2 a.m. For some odd reason, I'd failed to delete this phone number from my page of hotel listings. I now wonder why I ever listed it.
Which causes me to recall a key distinction between good and poor hotels/motels: The good ones are quiet. You don't even think about noise. They have thick walls and the clientele is not the sort that chooses the middle of the night to debate marital problems or rearrange the furniture.
My sole salvation for this evening may be the product of age. Since my hearing was much better the last time I was here, I may get up in the morning and ask, "What train noise?"