As I stared up at the narrow dimly lit flight of stairs ascending almost straight up, I wondered if this had been a poor choice. As a “Road Warrior” spending every week on the road, I began to think that switching from a hotel to a Bed and Breakfast might be a good change.
My client was near the
Chesapeake Bay, in such a beautiful area; surely there was a wealth of places from which to choose. After searching the Yellow Pages, I discovered that there weren’t that many. I settled on what seemed to be the closest and made the call to get reservations and directions.
In giving directions, the owner of the Bed and Breakfast told me to “follow the double yellow line”. Not wanting to appear stupid, I didn’t question “What yellow line?” I figured it would become apparent. And finally, it was. You know those lines; the two down the middle of the road! I had informed him that I’d arrive later in the evening. His instructions had been that the key would be left under the flowerpot by the front door. He had also said there was only one other guest in the B&B that week.
I drove down the dark street, passing row after row of apartment buildings, always following that double yellow line. I thought that it certainly didn’t look like an area where one would find a Bed and Breakfast. Suddenly, the street (and the double yellow line) came to a dead end into another street. Apparently, I had missed the B&B. When driving and being faced with the decision to turn around, I ALWAYS turn to the right. Why? I have no idea. Thankfully, for some reason, I turned left. There, looming in front of me was a monstrous house that looked like it might have been the setting for “The Addams Family” television series.
I slowly drove forward and pulled into what had once been a driveway but was overgrown. The yard appeared to be a couple of weeks past the scheduled mowing. I walked through the tall grass and up onto the unlit front porch of the old two-storied Victorian style mansion. Looking into the foyer through the old beautiful frosted, beveled glass door; the subdued lighting reminded me of a funeral parlor! I hadn’t gotten a description of the house, but I did note that there was a flowerpot in the grass, by the front steps. I experienced mixed emotions as I groped in the dark, under the pot. I hoped this was the right house, for I didn’t relish having someone call the police because I was plundering in front of their house. I also wasn’t quite sure how I felt about going inside this darkened old relic. When my fingers touched the key, I don’t know whether I felt relief or dismay.
I went back to the car and retrieved my luggage and briefcase. I came back to the front door and followed the instructions given by the owner. I went inside and began to search for the back staircase. As I passed through the living room, dining room and kitchen to the backstairs, I noted the high-ceilings and rooms furnished with beautiful antiques. Had they been family heirlooms passed from generation-to-generation or did something have a penchant for estate sales?
As I lugged first, my luggage, and then my briefcase up the narrow, steep stairs I decided to score one for hotel elevators. From the description I’d been given, I knew I was going to be staying in “The Baltimore Room”. It was a beautifully appointed room - green and white striped wallpaper, an antique four-poster bed, and an adjoining bath containing an old bathtub with claw feet. I went through my “week on the road arrival routine” and unpacked all the essentials. All the while, I had one ear tuned to listen for any other sounds in the house, and I heard nothing. Score two for the noise in hotel corridors.
After I finished unpacking, I decided it was time to call home and let my hubby know that I’d arrived safely. I looked around the room and found that there was no telephone (and this was before cell phones). I had left the room door open while going through the unpacking routine, I closed the door ready to lock up for the night, and I discovered not only did the room have no phone, the door had no lock! At this point, I decided that hotels weren’t so bad after all. The score pad, in my mind, was leaning heavily in their favor.
The antique four-poster bed was very comfy, but it didn’t matter. Attempting to sleep in a room with no phone and no lock on the door wasn’t to be in the cards for me that night.
Breakfast was to be served at 7:00 a.m. At 6:45, I still had heard no sounds in the house. I finally went downstairs, at almost 7:00, to ask for an iron (that I really didn’t need) just so I could look for another human being. I walked into the kitchen and found a man who didn’t seem surprised to see a strange person coming down his stairs. At least I was in the right place even though I had already decided that I had made a wrong decision. He searched the kitchen cabinets, looking for the iron I had requested. Every cabinet he opened looked like they might have belonged to Fibber McGee and Molly. They were crammed with books and papers and everything but something related to a kitchen. I couldn’t imagine anyone being able to prepare anything edible from what I was seeing. He finally turned, and in apparent desperation said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think we have one of those”. I was just happy I hadn’t really needed one!
I’m sure a genie must have prepared the breakfast. It was quick and good and in the dining room by 7:00. And we (the other guest appeared at breakfast) heard the story of the house, which was on the National Historic Register. It truly was a beautiful home and had my husband been with me, it probably would have been a great choice.
My client knew that I had made the change from the hotel to the B&B, so when I arrived for work that morning they anxiously awaited hearing how my adventure had turned out. Once I told my story, I ended it with “And, I think this was probably one of the most stupid things I’ve ever done.” One of the men looked at me and asked, “Did you check out this morning?” I replied, “No, I made a commitment for the week, so I thought I should stay.” He shook his head and commented, “Nope that was the most stupid thing you’ve done.”
In later years when I tired of staying in hotels and began considering the coziness of a B&B – the house at the end of the double yellow line was quickly a reminder that elevators and noise aren't so bad...and locks on doors are preferred. 3
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