Bicycling in Kilkenny

Bicycling in Kilkenny

Flying for Free: Part VII

One of the philosophies of the space-a traveler is to make the most of every time and place they are in. There is no need to waste the mone...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Flying for Free: Part VI

Regardless of our utter exhaustion and desperate need for a shower and a bed, our hunger for food would have to be satiated first. Our hotel room would not be ready for quite some time, and there was no way any of us would be able to sit in the hot car for more than just a few minutes.

As we drove down the one and only main business road in Dover, I saw a Friendly’s and decided to pull in there. I chose that place for a few reasons. First, I used to love that place as a kid. There was one in the old Newmarket North Mall in Virginia where I grew up, and I remembered they always had the coolest ice cream sundaes. But it isn’t just nostalgic to me and my own childhood. It also holds memories for my own children. Seven years ago, we celebrated Tabitha’s twelfth birthday at a Friendly’s in Maine where we had been stuck while trying to get to New York from our home in Spain. A huge blizzard had hit the entire northeastern seaboard that year that resulted in major air travel delays and cancellations for several days.

The biggest reason I chose Friendly’s was because I knew we’d be able to hang out there longer than at a fast food place, and having a reason to stay for dessert  could make it even longer. I was starting to understand a little of what a homeless person must have to consider when planning their day. They probably know which places and areas of town they can loiter in, and they probably also know exactly how long they can be there before they are forced to move on.

Probably looking a little homeless ourselves, we sat in the booth too tired to care what others might have been thinking.  John’s head rested in his hand above his half eaten plate as his eyes lingered in  blinks as he slowly lifted each french fry to his mouth while Darren’s forehead found the only bare spot on the table. I kept encouraging them to wake up for fear of getting kicked out.  “You have to keep your head up, Darren,” I said in my peppiest voice I could muster, “You don’t want them to think you are drunk.” Unfortunately, that was the only joke I had in me, so the next several times his head fell to the table, all I could do was tell him to sit back up.

I felt bad for my family and their misery. I imagined that it might have been better had we chosen to see a movie instead, but we weren’t willing to fork over $50 just so we could have chairs to sleep in. After we got the check for our meals and ice creams, I realized the movie might not have been such a bad idea. I also wondered why we hadn’t just stayed at the USO. We could have all nested in the movie room and not had to pay a dime.

That’s the thing about hindsight and space-a travel. There is just no way of knowing what is going to happen, so after all is said and done, the could haves and should haves tend to flood the mind.

It was finally 2pm when we piled into the car outside Friendly’s. “I know they said 3,” I said more to myself than anyone else, “but maybe they’ll let us in now. It’s only an hour early.” I drove a few blocks down the road and hoped for the best. I took the boys in with me that time.

There was a couple ahead of us at the desk hoping to get in  a little early as well. The kind desk clerk was on the phone asking about a different list or something. She hung up the phone and said something I imagine she must say at least three or four times a day. “You all are at the wrong hotel. You have reservations over at the Comfort Inn, not this one. We are Comfort Inn and Suites.” I was surprised at their reaction and how well they took the news that they would have to get back in their car and travel somewhere else, but I think the kind desk clerk just had a way with people that made them happy and calm no matter what bad news she might have to share. She patiently gave them directions and sent them on their way.

“I know I am early,” I said as I approached the desk, “but I was just hoping, well, we were just hoping that our room might be ready now.”

The very nice lady did some tapping on her computer and with a genuinely apologetic smile, she looked up at me and said, “I’m sorry, but it’s just not ready yet.”

I told her I understood and asked if we could use the pool while we wait. She said that wouldn’t be possible without a room key. Since we were there, I thought I’d ask about the possibility of a late check out. “Oh, I don’t know,” she said, “You’ll have to ask Miss Peaches about that in the morning. There’s just no way of knowing how many people are gonna book rooms for tomorrow.”

I had no idea who Miss Peaches was, but I figured if she was as nice as this desk clerk here, she’d probably do all she could to help us get that late check out if we wanted it. I thanked her for her time and followed the boys back out to the car.

John was sleeping in the passenger seat when we got back in the car. “It’s not ready yet,” I said while simultaneously planning our next move. “Wanna go to Target?” Neither of us had any desire to do any shopping. I imagined us all wandering up and down the aisles like zombies looking for nothing but probably buying  everything we didn’t need.

“I don’t know,” John said, “I really just want to go to sleep.” I stared through the windshield hoping an idea might come to me.

Then, the phone rang. “It’s a Dover number,” I said, hoping for good news. “Hello?” I said into the phone.

“Have you all gotten very far from the hotel?” the voice on the other end said.

“Oh, no ma’am,” I said with hope-induced energy, “We are still here in the parking lot.”

She told me our room was ready for us, so we all piled out of the car, grabbed our luggage, and headed inside while dreaming of warm showers and cozy blankets and pillows. Our wait was finally over, and we’d finally be able to get the much needed rest we had been hoping for.

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