No Vacancy

A Night At The Motel

A convenient place to become the man that God forgot.


No Vacancy is a monthly column on often-overlooked aspects of the American life. While roadside hotels and remote estate sales may not be the flashy parts of modern life, they are inextricable from American culture. Here, Kyle dissects it all.

I stood in the motel lobby and watched the elderly man fumble with the credit card machine. An error message kept appearing as his unsteady hand entered $80,000 instead of $80 for the third time. Internally I was screaming, but I kindly asked if he would like some assistance. I had worked with these machines before, I told him. Through the window of the booth, his face relaxed with relief. He was just a neighbor after all, holding down the fort until the owner got back. I crammed myself into the small booth, ran my card, got my key, and went to my room.

It was nice enough, outfitted with two beds, a small table, TV, and microwave. The bathroom featured a nicely tiled shower and a window, too narrow to make a rear escape though. Even with the pronounced “No Smoking” plaque above the beds, the room smelled like a stale Winston. I stepped outside to suck up some fresh air. A strong instinct led me to my neighbor's door, and I pounded hard a few times. I counted to five, listening to the scramble, then screamed, “Never mind!” and walked towards the lobby. It is good to give tweakers some occasional outside stimuli.

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