Visiting My Friend Howard Johnson

So, a friend from work was chatting with me about my trip to Boston last week to get my daughter settled in her apartment in Cambridge, where she is going to law school. If I were a braggart, I would say she is going to Harvard Law School, but I’m not like that. Anyway, I mentioned to him that I needed a hotel and was lamenting the high cost for a room. He immediately said, “Are you kidding? Priceline, idiot, Priceline.” He walked me through the process and I got the Cambridge Marriott for $100 a night. Amazing. It’s $249 a night if you just call. I thought to myself that I am so happy being the Obama Mini Me that cares about spending money wisely and how fortunate I am to have friends at the office.

After moving her in during the week, I decided to go to the Cape for the weekend and see my family. I’m a freak with weird hours and hate staying with people, so I called my biz partner, Debbie, and asked her to do the Priceline buy again. I was on the phone while she was doing it.

“Ok, type in four-star hotels in Hyannis and see what they show. Then they will tell us the average price for those hotels and my friend, Mike, from the office said just divide it in half and we will get a great room. It worked in Boston.”

“There are no four-star hotels in Hyannis.”

“Ok, try three-star hotels.”

“Hmmm, not so much.”

“Ok, what stars do they have?”

“Well, they have one-star hotels. And, the average cost is $130 a room.”

“Ok, bid $75 and let’s see where I’m staying.”

“Alrighty then. Looks like it’s jimmies, not sprinkles.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You, partner mine, are staying at the Yarmouth Howard Johnson. I remember ice cream from Ho Jo’s and they call sprinkle toppings jimmies, not sprinkles.”

“Whatever. I’m sure that’s great, right?”

” I don’t know, Christine, I’m not sure you are a Howard Johnson girl, but go for it.”

IMG_0056I drove in after a long day on the road and finishing up things, and I was stunned. Everyone parks their cars outside the rooms, and they were all sitting outside their rooms on plastic chairs that they clearly brought with them. They were drinking beer from coolers sitting next to the chairs. I checked in, drove to the space right in front of my room (which is quite convenient) and went into the room. I then started plotting how I can get Michael, my friend who introduced me to Priceline, fired.

The sheets had been slept in. The TV was black, white and red. You cannot call it color. There is a film over everything, and I decided I surely should not take my shoes off until getting into bed. I decided to stick it out and went to Kmart and bought sheets and a comforter. I bought wipes and cleaned off everything. It’s only two days, but a girl has standards. As I was walking to the checkout, I saw plastic chairs. “Ok, Christine, embrace the new experience. Join the crowd.” I bought a cool red plastic chair and a small cooler.

This afternoon, after returning from a lovely afternoon with Aunt Nancy, I sat out front of the building on my plastic chair for a really long time. No one talked to me. They talked to each other and they didn’t talk to me. I tried to look cool and interested, but nothing. Finally I started up a conversation with someone about my car make, and he asked me how I found Howard Johnson. I told him Priceline. Turns out he’s only paying $60 a night and he just drove in without a reservation. I just said, “See you later,” and headed back to my room. I’m going to leave the plastic chair in the room tomorrow when I leave.

Here is the thing. I’m not a snob. I fit in most places. I like all kinds of people. That said, when I travel I like a clean room where the remnants of those before me are not my roommates during my stay.

I think Priceline is probably fine when you can use the star function, but not so good when you don’t.

3 replies on “Visiting My Friend Howard Johnson”

Oh, you are too, too funny, cousin-mine! I’ve stayed at the George V in Paris, the Savoy in London and every cheesy motel in the U. S. Give me the cheesy ones every time. Don’t you know you’re supposed to actually open your cooler and offer the neighbor a beer? Or did you only have Opus 1 and a very creamy brie? Bud Lite and a good cheddar if you want to be upscale . . . Besides, if you don’t scratch your chest and burp, they’ll just ignore you. Ah, my kind of place . . .


OK, but did you have the jimmies??

Oh, I know, they closed all the HoJo restaurants a long time ago, right? I was a waitress at one of them on I-85 in Durham, NC, in 1974, and worked the ice cream counter sometimes. This was considered high-end ice cream back then, in that town…..of course, I not only got to dish out the frozen stuff, I got to fend off advances from hairy truckers. But maybe I should have just offered them a beer….

I wish you’d taken a photo of your red chair, or better yet, asked your new friends to take a picture of you in it, in front of your room.

Thanks for the warning. I use Priceline alot..but only for bigger cities or airports. We did stop in desperation one time at a HoJo motel in the south along the interstate. Nightmare!!!

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