Sometimes The Cost Of A “2-Star” Hotel Can Be Too High


I arrived at the Texas State Capitol yesterday morning in time to meet most of the members of our coalition when they arrived. They were coming into town for the Senate Health & Human Service Committee hearing on a couple of Legislative bills that pertain to residential childcare. When I arrived, four members of our group were already seated along the perimeter of the rotunda.

If you are familiar with “family sculpting” or “group configurations”, you’ll probably find their seating configuration a little strange. Three of the members were sitting next to each other and there were ample additional vacant seats adjacent to them. The fourth member was seated on the other side of an open passageway sitting alone.

I was in a playful mood. Having left home in plenty of time to arrive very early, I was surprised at how relaxed I felt. Since I was local, I felt some level of responsibility to meet and greet folks when they arrived. Most drove into town the evening before, but some got a very early start yesterday morning.

Last week when I came for the House Health and Human Services Committee hearing, I barely arrived at the Capitol on time. Until I finally arrived, in my heart-of-hearts, I feared I was going to be very late. I was fit-to-be tied. I don’t do “late” very well.

I’m not sure why I opted to quote Shakespeare. If you’re thinking Shakespeare referenced the “fit-to-be-tied” expression, you don’t advance to “Go” and you don’t collect $200. I think “heart of hearts” came from Hamlet, but I could be wrong. I don’t know where “fit-to-be tied” originated, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Shakespeare.

My first thought is that the “fit-to-be-tied” expression means angry or frustrated. Of course, it might have some relationship to the use of a “Posey belt.” If you don’t know what a Posey belt is, you probably never worked in a hospital. Better yet “fit-to-be-tied” could relate to needing a straight jacket?

I can’t think of anything much worse than having one’s mobility impaired and being tied-up unless it is sitting in a Legislative hearing from 8:00 a.m. until after 8:00 p.m. Honestly, I don’t know how the Legislators do it. I’d be a candidate for a straight jacket for sure. Some think I’m dangerously close now. Being a danger is oneself is one of the things that historically could warrant the use of a straight jacket.

Like I said, I was in a playful mood. I ask the three guys sitting together about the member sequestered across the way. I made some comment like, “Is he in time-out already? They laughed.

We made small talk for a few minutes before I made my way over to speak to the other member of our group. To my surprise, another member had now joined him. I hadn’t noticed that he arrived.

The two guys now seated together were from faith-based agencies. One was Baptist and the other was Church of Christ. Why not have a little fun? It was a toss up, but I decided to target the Church of Christ member. Oops! “Target” is not a good word (“Playfully interact with” would have been a better choice of words). At any rate, the Church of Christ guy figuratively drew the short straw. He was my man! I’ve only known him for a short time, but you can tell from the way he presents himself that he likes to have fun and that he doesn’t take much too seriously. I’m really not sure that he is Church of Christ.

I’m not suggesting that the Baptist represented a different persona. In fact, he too is hilarious, but he has more of a dry-sense of humor and he routinely is pretty quiet. I thought I’d pick on the new guy. Why not make him feel included and welcomed by pulling his string?

So I said, “Doug (may or may not be his real name) – I think I saw you last night? Was that you on 6th Street? I’m almost certain it was. The guy looked just like you”. Doug immediately had a sheepish grin from ear-to-ear. Obviously, he either was familiar with 6th Street or he really had been there. I wasn’t certain which.

Just for the record, you have to carefully monitor guys who routinely have a grin from ear-to-ear. They could be up to something or it may simply be their modus operandi. In Doug’s case, I suspect it’s both. Like I said, “I haven’t known him long, but he is always in a good mood and generally smiling. I guess you could say the look is his signature series.

“Truthfully”, he said: “I wasn’t on 6th Street last night, but I did get propositioned by a prostitute?” He managed to say that without his signature series grin. Was he really being serious? “Where were you?”, I asked. He responded, “In my hotel parking lot.”

Okay, I think he said “hotel” parking lot and not “motel” parking lot. The way he described the ambience of where he stayed or lack thereof, it could have been one of those venues with the fixed flat-roof carport in between the small structures that contain a bedroom and bath. If you lived through the fifties, you’ve probably seen what I’m talking about. Whether Austin has any, I don’t know. You might ask Doug.

I managed to quell the, “What were you thinking” question when he provided the name of his hotel. Things being what they are, I’m not mentioning the name of the enterprise for fear of litigation, but nobody stays in a place like that in this day and age.

In my heart of hearts, I am a caretaker. I told him about Priceline. He said, “I know, but my boss made the reservation”. I’ve actually known his boss for many years and he, too, is an incredible guy. Like I said, “I’m a caretaker”. I said: “Let me handle this for you. I’ll convince your boss that Priceline is a better option.

Easy-to-say, but not so easily done. The boss said: “I’m frugal. When I stay at a place, all that matters to me is that the sheets are clean and that I have a pillow”. Oh my! Life is too short to only have the expectation of having clean sheets. Besides that, for the same price, you can generally get a 4-star hotel on Priceline. His boss mentioned the name of the hotel and said, “It isn’t bad.” I replied, “Of course it’s not, but it has been a long time since the 70s.” He smiled, but dismissively looked at me like I should mind my own business.

My next question for his boss was: “Are you going to handle this as a workers-comp case?” He looked puzzled and responded: “Handle what and what do you mean?” I calmly suggested that Doug had been traumatized by the parking lot experience. After all, he innately forfeited his customary smile when he was telling me of the parking lot experience. Perhaps with only a few months of therapy Doug might once again be secure enough to actually come to work, to sleep through the night and to not be terrified at the thought of his Austin experience. In the interim, it could be a slow go.

At this point, I have more questions than I have answers. For one thing, how did my new friend know the person he met in the parking lot of his hotel was a prostitute? Doug didn’t tell me that. Even if she was trying to hit-on-him, it may not have fallen into the category of prostitution. Secondly, how did he know she was hitting-on-him? Did she say, “Hi Sailor, new in town?” I should have asked more questions.

There are too many unknowns here, but one thing is sure: “Doug and his boss need to learn to use Priceline.”

All My Best!



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