Thursday, March 29, 2012

I Feel SO Safe Here... NOT!!

On my way home from Mississippi (by way of Pensacola), I took my time coming home, opting to follow US 98 to Natchez, Mississippi then up US 65.
Well the weather changed my plans: the threat of severe storms made me head north on I-55 at McComb, Mississippi and head straight towards Memphis. Good thing, too: Natchez, Vicksburg, and Port Gibson all had tornado warnings during the afternoon, so my detour was probably for the best.

I stopped for gas at West Memphis (using the Gas Buddy app on my smartphone to save 14 cents a gallon), then headed west on I-40. I hit a few small patches of rain, but nothing heavy until I got close to Brinkley. It was coming down fairly heavy there and then I hit another problem: a traffic back-up. There must have been an accident west of town because traffic on I-40 was backed up for several miles, at times to the point of not moving at all.  By then, it was close to 6pm and I knew I probably wouldn't make it home before 11 between the rain and the slow traffic. So I opted to pull off at US 49 and find me a motel. Using the TripAdvisor app, I found a Motel 6... I really should have known better.

The only rooms they had available (so they said) were upstairs. I HATE upstairs: if I'm downstairs, I can park in front of my door and keep an eye on my van. But the room was relatively clean and it was spacious for a Motel 6 (it had recently been re-branded from Days Inn as was apparent from all the sunshine logos built into the building design.).  The furnishings were somewhat worn looking and the bed was kind of hard. What disturbed me the most was the broken door chain
Well, it was late, I was tired and I didn't feel like driving on in the dark and the rain, so I opted to stay the night, but not without sticking a chair under the door handle for security.

In the morning, I noticed many of the downstairs rooms were still vacant... so why was I told "upstairs only"?  I also decided to document the slowly crumbling condition of the motel...until the owner chased me off. 

I will probably never stop here again. I'm debating totally giving up on Motel 6, yet Super 8 isn't much better, though higher priced. BUT WAIT: I can earn free nights! Spend twice as much for a room and after 10 stays, receive a free night. 

Maybe I should just buy an RV... but then I couldn't travel the backroads as easily looking for bridges :(

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So Sorry

I returned home last Thursday from 2 weeks in Mississippi and Florida. I went to an SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) gathering in Mississippi for a week, then spent a day in Pensacola, Florida (it was only 3 more hours away).

I spent part of that day driving around town seeing sights and looking for bridges and signs to photograph and spent a couple hours playing on the beach. I also found a very good, if pricey, seafood restaurant: Bonefish Grill. More on that another time.

In Pensacola, I stayed at a Motel 6: I shopped around on my (new) smartphone looking for a good deal on a motel room and decided Motel 6 looked acceptable. WRONG!

The motel itself looked like it was starting to fall apart. The carpet in the room was filthy and the bathroom looked like it had been only half done. The bed was comfortable enough, though the pillows were flat (must be a Motel 6 standard). The TV was set so it came on blaring at full volume and on a channel that wasn't working.
The worst part was some old guy who was always standing outside and frequently walked by my room. Was he the owner? He never spoke, but always seemed to be watching me.  He was casually dressed, but still dressed too well to be a vagrant.
Actually, the worst part was someone came into my room while I was gone to dinner and went through my stuff. Thankfully, nothing appeared to be missing. This was around 6 in the evening, so it wasn't housekeeping.

The morning I checked out (I stayed for 2 nights, though I should have left after one), the old man was watching me again. He must have been the owner. He obviously must have no life if all he does is wander the grounds and spy on people.

After I returned home, I received a survey from Motel 6 asking me how my stay was, and I told them:: about the dirty carpet, the dirty shower and people coming into my room when I wasn't there. I received a response from the manager within a few hours of filling out the survey: I am sorry that your experience did not meet your expectations. 

Really? Your motel is a filthy dump where guests are spied on and all you can say is "I'm sorry we didn't meet your expectations" ? Tell you what, Mr Manager: you may as well tell Tom Bodett to turn out the light, because I won't be back... oh wait: you never turned ON the light. That's why your sign wasn't lit at night. 

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Passing Thought

It was 6 months last week that my father passed away. Part of me still wonders when he's coming home.
This evening, I remembered this cartoon he had posted in his drawing room for a long time:
Life is like a swizzle stick: you're born, you die, but sometimes you have to stir things up.

That's all.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Free Upgrade $36

After months of debating the pros and cons, I finally took the plunge and upgraded my cell phone to a Smartphone. Since I'm on the road a lot, I figured I could use better weather info as well as e-mail access and GPS navigation (though that takes the fun out of making a wrong turn and finding a forgotten bridge ;))
I've had wireless service with AT&T (formerly Cingular) for nearly six years and while my phone still works, it was a basic model when I bought it and is practically a "dinosaur" by today's cell phone standards. I went to AT&T's website and they offered me a free upgrade to a better phone. I looked around at several phones and also looked at a few in their retail store. I almost bought one in the store, but wanted to explore more options.
So I finally settle on a phone and place my order for my free upgrade. I ordered my phone ("free" with a 2 year contract vs $30 with a contract at the retail shop), selected a data plan ($20 a month vs $30 bought through the retailer) and proceeded to check out. Lo, and behold I was charged $36 for upgrading my phone. The "free" upgrade? That was the "free" phone I got when I signed a new 2 year contract. 
That's not exactly a "free" upgrade. That almost sounds like "Bait and Switch". It's no wonder AT&T is rated lowest of all wireless companies in terms of customer satisfaction (per Consumer Reports).

Now, I've (thankfully) had very few problems with them over the years, so I'm hoping that continues... but I'm watching you, AT&T! You screw me over, you'll hear from me!

Update: my phone ringer quit after 5 days and one of the control buttons has quit working. Thankfully, it's still under warranty.