When the Beetle was about 5 and the Goose was about 1, we decided to take a trip to Atlanta with some friends. We were going to Six Flags over Georgia to ride the Superman roller coaster. I, being the thrifty wife that I was, decided to get a hotel shop. We offered that our friends could stay in the room with us, but once they saw how inexpensive the hotel room was, they said they would just book a room at the same place. This was my first experience with staying in Atlanta, and I learned quickly that there are many different parts of Atlanta. Some were much more desirable than others, and you guessed it, our hotel was not in the more desirable area.
The fact that the hotel rented rooms by the week should have been clue #1. Apparently, I was young and stupid. So, off we went, to explore Atlanta and fly like Superman.
I must provide a little side note here, because though this has nothing to do with the mystery shop, it’s funny enough to tell you. We all piled in the mini-van and headed north on I-75. We made it all the way to Valdosta without stopping once. I was so impressed that the kids had gone that long without a potty or food break. We stopped at a shopping center, and I told the Beetle to get his shoes on. He said, “Where are they?” I said, “Where did you put them?” He answered that he had not put them anywhere. We had driven all the way to Georgia without shoes for my child. This was one of many reasons I was nominated “mother of the year” that year. Our friends, the childless couple, found this to be hilarious, and they teased us about it for a long time. I told them just to wait until they had kids, and they would understand. I mean, really, I was expected to keep two small children alive day to day AND remember to pack shoes? It was more than one person could handle.
Okay, so back to the nightmare shopping experience. We arrived at the hotel after crossing over the railroad tracks. We were officially on the wrong side of the tracks. As we pulled into the parking lot, the area was well lit. Of course, the lighting was blinking, because the parking lot was well lit with police lights. The cops had someone laid out on the hood of his car, and he was in hand-cuffs. We’ll chalk this up as clue #2. Clue #3 was the uniformed officer standing at the door, checking IDs to allow people into the building. Still, being the dedicated mystery shopper that I was, we headed inside. In hindsight, for the safety and good of my barefooted children, we should have run back to the mini-van.
We got checked in and headed upstairs. Judging by the blood stain on the carpet in the elevator, I was pretty sure we weren’t staying. Plus, many of the “guests” of this “hotel” seemed to have many personal belongings with them on “vacation.” There were plastic lounge chairs and plants in front of several doors, and many of the curtains in the windows did not match each other. It looked more like a half-way house than a hotel.
We got to the room and began to inspect. I had to take pictures, so I got to work. I instructed Mr. Everything to hold both of my children off the floor and not let them touch anything.
The room was disgusting. There was hair on the sheets. The curtains were stained. The carpet was ripped. We could hear yelling next door.
Picture the worst hotel from an episode of Law & Order, and you’ll have a good mental image of what we were dealing with here. My Mama Bear instinct was kicking in quickly. The hair on the back of my neck was standing up, and I needed my babies to be out of there. I asked Mr. Everything to take them back to the mini-van. He pointed out that they would not be much safer in the car in the scary parking lot, since the cops had left by this point. I agreed and reminded him again not to let them touch anything. Then, I headed to the bathroom.
I had to take photos of the tub, the sink and the toilet. Meanwhile, my friend opened the dresser drawer in the bedroom. “Uh, Al, you might want to come take a look,” he said as calmly as he could manage. (And, yes, he actually called me Alison, since no one calls me Al in my real life.) I walked over and looked in the drawer. There was a broken piece of mirror with a white powdery substance on it. Now, it might have just been that someone had a powdered donut while admiring herself in the mirror, but I doubt it. My protective instincts kicked in, and the rest is a blur.
The next thing I remember is being in the mini-van, heading toward a decent hotel in a decent part of town. We got a good night’s sleep and had to return to the scene of the crime (literally) the next morning. I had to check out of the hotel so I could complete the assignment. I should have gotten a bonus or at least an “Attagirl” for completing that report, but at least I did not get shot or mugged or worse.
The worst part is that our friends actually had to pay for their room. I felt really bad about that, but they said they didn’t mind. They said $39 plus tax was a small price to pay not to have to actually stay there.
After that, we traveled with our friends a few more times through the years. Each time we did, I would offer to get a hotel shop, and they always answered with a very quick, “No!” Some people just didn’t appreciate my generosity! -Al