The Carrion Inn.

When did the practice of naming winter storms begin? Naming hurricanes seems to have begun a little over 50 years ago, before that they were “the hurricane of ’56” or perhaps “the storm of the century” which I’ve heard the hurricane of ’38 referred to, but snow storms? When I was a kid (which is getting to be a long, long time ago) it was just “there’s a storm coming” and I (along with probably every other kid) started thinking, hoping, maybe even praying that school would be cancelled. We’d listen to the local radio station intently for the closing list, my dad was a school teacher and even though we didn’t live in his school’s district, my brothers, sister and I all attended that school. We’d listen to the radio, watch the snow falling, attempt to eat whatever mom made for breakfast, which was always an adventure, please read earlier blogs for more info on that subject.

Of course as kids we didn’t consider that one snow day = one extra day in June even when my dad would remind us of same, it didn’t matter, a day off from school was a day off from school and I didn’t even have to pretend to be sick, something I considered myself to be pretty good at. By the fifth grade I’d perfected the fake whooping cough. All one needs to do is exhale through ones mouth at an accelerated rate until the hoarse whooping sound comes out, then go find your mom. It’s pretty foolproof, the only drawback is that one can’t use this ruse often or it will end with a Dr.’s visit, there’s no point ditching school if it includes going to the Dr.’s office. It’s not that I didn’t like school, I just liked getting away with something more and the whooping cough scenario was a clear win, kids 1 parents 0 and the crowd roars !!

Fast forward a few decades and I am one the other end of the stick, as my job has designated myself and many others as “essential staff” says so right on my work I.D. , just in case I get pulled over when Big Brother deems driving to be unlawful. This has only happened once, during winter storm “Juno” January 27th, 2015. I know the exact date because I, among many others were encouraged to sleep at work, not because upper management was worried about our driving prowess, more so because they wanted enough people on premise in the morning to run the place. The hourly workers who stayed were enticed to do so by the offer of $10.00 an hour to sleep. Salaried peeps, such as myself received (a couple of weeks after the storm) a lap blanket with the aforementioned name of the storm and the date. Blue blankies for the boys and pink for the girls, I kid you not.

Which brings us to Monday February 1, 2021 and another snow storm, I won’t be getting another blankie for this one because I booked a room at the Carrion Inn (not it’s real name) a five minute ride from work that took me ten because of the storm.

My first impression of the Carrion Inn was “where is it” ? as I sloshed through the wet snow covered roads. It should’ve been across the street from the Red Roof Inn, where I’d stayed for a night a couple of years ago during a similar weather event and will never return for various reasons I’ll discuss at a later date. It should have been across the street but it wasn’t, sort of. That hotel was the American something or other (their sign was partially obscured by snow) so I sloshed a little further, turned around (easier said than done) went back, pulled into the American something hotel and caught a glimpse of another building in back and headed for it. The dark sign read Carrion Inn, I parked my pick-up, grabbed the bag I had packed before leaving for work and sloshed through ankle deep wet snow to the front entrance, which hadn’t been shoveled, slosh, slosh, slosh, finally made it.

Upon opening the glass door, I realized that this was the rear entrance, still should’ve been shoveled though and trudged up the short staircase to the reception desk. It was an odd set up, the customer side of the reception desk was waist high, while the other side seemed to be in a trench, all you could see of the clerk was her head, barely visible as she typed away on her computer, checking me in. After receiving my key card and inquiring whether the restaurant was open, it was, I headed to my room, which was back down the stairs, room 106, looking out to the slush covered parking lot. I closed the curtains, turned up the heat, unpacked my overnight bag, put my “shaving kit” consisting of my toiletries in jammed into a tupper-ware pasta tube in the bathroom and turned on the TV for company.

My stomach started to grumble, I put on my mask and headed up to the restaurant, following the proper covid protocols, which was pretty easy since there was no one else around, except the receptionist’s head behind the plexiglass barrier. I nodded, she ignored or didn’t see me from her borrow. The restaurant was empty, no one at all, I took a seat at the bar and a middle-aged man entered from what I guessed to be the kitchen. He nodded a greeting and I asked for a cocktail, he handed me a menu of basic drinks, gin & tonic, martini, screw driver (I didn’t think anyone drank them any more) I opted for a beer, he handed me another menu, I chose Blue Moon, with a glass. Next was the challenge of the dinner menu. It was apparent that my server didn’t speak English well and was content to let the menu do the talking for him. It was a very limited menu, similar to the one offered in a different hotel I stayed in the previous August during Hurricane … something or other, I can’t recall.

There were six offerings on the printer paper menu, three featuring “Shrimps”. After careful consideration, I chose the chicken sandwich, with fries, because pretty much everything came with fries, even the “Shrimps” dishes. The attendant pulled out a tray of lettuce and tomato, I nodded, he showed me a bottle of mayo, again I nodded and he headed to the kitchen. I sipped my beer while waiting for dinner. It took awhile because the phone rang a couple of times with people looking for room service, I think, it was hard to tell from the limited bits of conversation I received from this end of the line. The man behind the bar did get someone to order a screw driver, mostly by reading the drink menu several times before taking the order, two orders of wings and two screw drivers, no “Shrimps”.

The Blue Moon was nearly gone when my chicken sandwich and fries arrived. I ordered another beer, paid and headed back to my room. I’d left the TV on, not thinking it was going to take as long as it did to bring back dinner, which I placed next to the TV, got out of my work clothes, into sweats and a T-shirt, sat on one of the double beds and opened the box holding dinner. Uninspiring is the least offensive way I can think to describe what I was looking at, a white bread bun that was crumbing at the edges, inside was a chicken “Pattie” with some mayo, 1/2 a piece of lettuce and a small slice of tomato, the fries were warm. I dug in reluctantly while watching a Joan Crawford, Clark Gable movie on TCM that involved escaping from an island prison with the usual collection of sorry looking prisoners, with one exception, Ian Hunter playing a Christ like character. “Strange Cargo” is an interesting film all in all, even has Peter Lorre playing “Monsieur Pig” !! I highly recommend it.

By the time the movie ended I had given up on my “chicken” sandwich, didn’t finish my second beer, poured it down the drain, brushed my teeth, washed my face and went to bed after calling for a 5:30 wake up. As usual, I fell asleep fairly quickly, as usual it didn’t last long, although this time it was because of a tapping sound, as if someone were knocking at a door. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap, no one answered, tap-tap-tap-tap, no one answered, then it stopped. Maybe someone did answer after all ? Then it started again. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap. Was someone having a blizzard party? Was this the secret knock to be let in? Tap-tap-tap-tap ? Whatever it was, it lasted pretty much the entire night, between the tapping sound and the wind, I didn’t get much sleep and was up way before the wake-up call. After doing a short stretching regime in the limited space of the hotel room, I shaved and showered, got dressed and brought my bag to my pick-up, started the engine to warm her up and headed back to the lobby. As I was walking through the parking lot I heard the tap-tap-tap-tap sound, it was coming from a loose piece of siding flapping against the building every time the wind blew and the wind blew a lot last night. Tap-tap-tap-tap….I’d have to find a different hotel next time, maybe the one in between the Carrion and Red Roof would do, hopefully I won’t have to find out any time soon.

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