*Fantasy scenario based on a conversation I had with a young woman I met while gassing up my car and some self-analysis during a rough patch in my life. Fictional characters and situation, real life emotional stress. All characters are 18 or older*
When it rains, as they say, it really fucking pours.
It had been a helluva run the previous few months. First, my elderly father, with whom I had a very tumultuous relationship over my life, had passed away in early Summer, right after his 85th birthday. While there had been a couple of lengthy intervals of silence between us a few years ago, we had reconciled and had a decent relationship for the last decade. His passing was not sudden, but it was more difficult on me than I had expected even with time to prepare.
His passing predicated me helping my mother with all the tasks that present themselves after the loss of her spouse. We spent the next 4 months dealing with estate issues (he had left some money but not a ton), selling the house, moving her to Reno, her living with us until we could get her a place of her own, not to mention her grief at losing a partner of over 50 years and the guilt she felt at honestly feeling some happiness at being free of his domineering ways. That is a harsh statement but a true one. Add all this emotional and financial stress to the fact that Jack and I were facing some health issues of our own and I had felt more stress and anxiety in my life than I had in 20 years or so. My job was taking a toll on me, and I was faced with wanting to leave it but needing the money and being over 50 and not as attractive a commodity as I had once been in the job market. Now with Winter just around the bend, we felt serious pressure to get everything involving my mother’s move completed before the snow flew.
We were down to the last few tasks before Mom was completely done with the house in the small, isolated town in Northern Nevada she had lived in for the last 30 + years and settled in in her new Reno condo. All that was left was to bring my father’s old pick-up back to Reno (left to my husband, Jack) and sell the remaining items we had put into storage that would not be finding their way to the new home. Jack and I had gone back to deal with these last few items and my mother had stayed in Reno, getting her new place just how she liked it and avoiding the emotional toll of closing that door on her old life forever.
But life had another curve to throw at us. As we were driving back to the outskirts of the middle of nowhere Nevada, Jack got a call from his niece in California. His brother, whom he had only come to know about 8 years ago, had been in a motorcycle accident and was in the ICU. Jack and his brother Trent had become very close in a short amount of time, and this was very devastating news.
Jack dropped me off to take care of the estate sale. He took the old pick up back to Reno and then hoped on a plane for San Francisco. I had our car that I would drive back once I was done. It was a big task to tackle alone, but I was determined to get it done and get home.
The sale went fine, if not great. A few items I really expected to move went unsold and I had to wrangle a way to get them to the donation center without a truck or people to help me haul them to be donated. That took longer than I had planned but thanks to some old friends of my parents, I managed to clear the storage unit and be able to close out that chapter of my life. It had been a long 4 days, but I was just happy to be done.
Some good news had come through and Jack’s brother was recovering and out of the woods. He’d have a good amount of physical therapy ahead of him, but he was going to be fine. Jack would be meeting me back home maybe a day after I got back. I should be getting home Friday afternoon/evening and that meant we might get a nice relaxing Sunday together before going back to our regular jobs!
But of course, when I started thinking things were working out, life said “HA!” and presented another challenge.
An early cold front had developed and was bearing down on Northern Nevada. From the forecasts I had seen so far if I got out and got on the road right after I finished dropping off the unsold items, I could make the almost 3 hours back to Reno just ahead of the storm, or maybe in its early stages. I wasn’t afraid of a little snow, but I knew well enough to avoid tempting fate when it comes to Nevada storms. They are unpredictable to say the least and I didn’t want to push my luck too far. Jack and I both cursed the fact that he hadn’t taken the car home and left me the 4-wheel drive. Damn hindsight anyway!
I got on the road at noon and under normal conditions that would have put me pulling into the driveway about 3:30 PM. The snow, however, had started falling about 8:30 am and kept increasing in amount as the morning wore on. The roads were not too bad when I left a little bursa escort after 12 o’clock, but within an hour the ice was getting bad, and I was down to about 45 MPH. Less than another hour in and I was doing 30 and just trying to stay on the road. I had driven through deeper snow before, but this might have been the worst ice I had ever seen. The wind was howling, and visibility was getting worse and worse, and I was crawling along the highway with my hazards on. The closer I got to Reno the slower I had to drive and the heavier the snow fell.
I was about 45 miles outside of Reno when I had to call it off. I had spent 5 hours attempting what was usually a 3-hour drive and I was not done yet and the roads were getting worse by the second. I was coming up on a highway exit that had a truck stop and a small hotel. A mere 8 miles down the road was a small but not tiny town that likely had better amenities, but I doubted I could make it that far in this weather. I hit the off ramp and pulled into the hotel parking lot, called Jack, and then called my mother to inform them that I was ok but not going to try to push through. I’d get a room at the roadside hotel and get home tomorrow after the roads had improved. After listening to my mom panic for about 5 minutes I bundled up to make the 100-foot journey through the blizzard to the hotel lobby.
I noticed the parking lot was pretty full as I approached the front door and the thought that they might be booked up started to creep into my mind. Sure enough, the lobby was bustling with people, 3 families of between 3 to 5 people were sitting on couches and at tables in the main lobby area. A couple of single men, one businessman maybe 10 years older than me and what looked to be a hygiene deprived truck driver, and two couples, one closer to my parents age and one in their late 20s were also camped around the standard complimentary breakfast area. I went to the front desk and the clerk, a pleasant if rough looking woman likely about 10 years younger than me in her early 40s, began to speak before I could get to the counter or even open my mouth to speak.
“Sorry, we’re completely full! We’ve got about 8 rooms that are torn up being remodeled so we don’t have our usual capacity.”
“Goddamn. How far is it to the next nearest hotel?” I asked.
The clerk just shook her head and said “There’s a Comfort Inn and a America’s Best about 10 miles away on the south side of town but I called and even if you managed to get there, they’re full too. They’ve been booked up full of drillers and temporary mine workers for weeks now. By law I’m not supposed to let people loiter in the lobby, but I’ll be damned if I can send people away in this shit. You’re welcome to find a spot to try and wait it out. The vending machines still have some food and sodas. The truck stop on the other side of the freeway likely has some food, but try getting there at your own risk, darling!”
I just sighed and looked at the clock behind the front desk. 5:30 pm. Shit. The last report I had looked at had the storm lasting into the early AM hours, and then it’s likely to be 9 or 10 AM tomorrow at the earliest before the snowplows and sun would have had a chance to make the roads passable. Fuck. It was going to be a long night, but at least I’m not stuck in my car by the side of the road. I was struggling to keep my resolve and not get too pissed or upset. I managed to keep it together as the clerk looked at me, trying to see if I was going to melt down or not.
I took another deep breath. “Thanks for being a decent human and not making all of us wait it out in our cars.” I said as I gestured around the room.
“Shit hon, it wouldn’t be right! They can fire me if they want to!” She said, revealing her severe lack of dental care.
I walked back to the front door and looked out. The snow was blowing sideways and I couldn’t even make out the giant neon sign that said Love’s Truck Stop not even a 1/4 mile away. The tracks I made when I pulled into the parking lot were gone already. I was hungry, but I just couldn’t think it was safe to even try to drive or walk that short distance in this goddamn mess.
I did brave the walk back out to the car to get my suitcase and a couple of things I might need (phone charger, gum, the small taser I kept for self-defense while traveling) and I looked like I had traversed the Yukon in January by the time I got back. There was a small table in the far corner of the lobby, on the opposite corner of the room of the front door. I parked myself there and sat down in the small chair. A sever lack of padding and questionable durability was immediately evident. My tailbone and back would be in bad shape in a matter of a couple of hours. Jesus fuck. What a fucking day, I thought.
I went to the vending machines and tried to decide what was the best of a lot of bad choices. As I scanned, I could bursa escort bayan see the truck driver sitting behind me in the glass of the machine, staring at my ass and grinning a lecherous grin. I ignored him and continued my ‘shopping’. I was going to create a bubble and not acknowledge his existence, thinking any acknowledgement might just give him some kind of false hope. I decided that a bag of chips, a small bag of peanuts, a Payday bar, two bottles of water and a diet Coke was the best I could do. “Buck up Margie.” My inner life coach urged “It’s not like you’re banished into the mountains to fend for yourself. There are people all around the globe who would kill for what you have in your hands right now!”
I took yet another deep breath and tried to remain centered and positive. The emotional stress of the last few months and the physical stress of driving in this weather had me feeling pretty frazzled but I was determined to stay positive. “It’s one night, just get through tonight.” I repeated to myself as I got back to my little corner of lobby.
My calm was being poked at severely within minutes. The truck driver continued to stare at me like a fox staring at the hens in the coop. Ugh. One of the families’ children were young and rowdy. The terrible twos were in full effect and fuck oh dear was it loud in there. Everyone was annoyed but no one said anything to the parents. I mean, what the hell could they do? I sat there, eating my bag of chips and trying to find a happy place in my mind.
The front door opened, and everyone’s attention went to it. A bundled-up figure came in, covered in snow. The figure shook off the snow and pulled back a hood to reveal a young woman. She looked like she was pretty but tough, a tattoo of a broken heart on her left check and what looked to be the tail end of a tattooed neck poking up from the hoodie. She looked young, in her late 20s I’m guessing. Blond braids, white girl from the mean streets kind of look to her. She glanced around the room with a look that was clearly meant to send a message that she was not to be fucked with. She looked at me last and seemed surprised that I did not avert my eyes from her gaze. She sneered at me and walked up to the clerk. It was clear the clerk knew her.
“Hey Lonna, glad to see you made it back from the truck stop.” The clerk said.
“Hey Diane. Shit, a bitch could end up a cunt-sicle in this weather. I slipped twice walking back and ended up on my ass! MotherFuck anyway!” the recently arrived woman said. The clearly heard use of “Cunt” she was the most interesting character in the room for sure. Her and Diane were whispering in a conspiratorial manner now and Diane would gesture towards one side of the room or the other with her head, trying to look inconspicuous as she did. It seemed to me like Lonna was getting a scouting report from her friend the clerk. “Hmm,” I thought, “what is the story here? Aw, forget about it. Lonna is likely just a housekeeper or something, stuck here like the rest of us and they are two gossiping co-workers.”
I went back to popping peanuts into my mouth and playing a puzzle game on my phone and trying not to think about the ever-increasing pain in my back from sitting in this chair. It had not even been a full hour yet. Shit.
After a minute or two of having my nose buried in my phone I was startled when I suddenly noticed that Lonna was standing right in front of me. I looked up at her and she put a hand up in front of her. “Whoa, sorry, didn’t mean to make you jump! How are you doing? I’m Lonna”
I adjusted in my seat and responded “I caught that. Hi, I’m Margie. I’m doing ok, all things considered, thanks for asking.”
“How long were you driving in this shit before you decided to stop?” Lonna asked.
“A few hours, I’m less than an hour from home but it just got too bad out there.” I said.
“From Reno huh?” she asked.
I paused before I answered. I was a little suspicious. She had not struck me as the naturally friendly type when she arrived, and I wondered to myself why she was approaching me with this apparent concern and interest. “Yep. Reno bound.” I answered.
Lonna must have picked up on my skepticism. She pulled up the last chair near me and took a seat. “Uh, ok,” I thought “sure, that was an invitation to sit down.”
Lonna leaned in and lowered her voice just a little. “Hey, listen, I know this might seem weird, but today is an out of the ordinary kind of day, right? I have a room here. For a $100, I’ll let you stay in it with me, you can have the recliner, take a shower, watch some TV, be a lot more comfortable than you are in here. No bullshit or anything, just a better option for riding out this storm than you have currently. What do you say?”
Ah, ok, here it is. A hustle to make a few bucks.
“You have a room here? I’m sorry I kind of figured you worked here, escort bursa the way you and Diane seemed to be friends and all.” I said.
“I stay here for a couple nights every couple of weeks, for work, but I don’t work for the hotel. I’m kind of a regular, so Diane knows me.” She replied.
“That a fact? OK. She’s ok with you charging for a room you’ve already paid her for? Why are you charging? Not into charity during a crisis? Not trying to be rude, just trying to keep it real.” I asked, trying not to sound shitty but I was grumpy and also figured this Lonna wasn’t one for subtlety.
Lonna’s brow furrowed a bit. She tilted her head to the side and regarded me with a “You think you know me?” expression. “OK, I ain’t hustling you. I stay here for work. Diane knows that and understands my situation. In this weather I won’t work, which means I won’t get paid and that means this shit is costing me. Charging you for the room helps me out and getting you out of this lobby could help you out. And you look like you can afford $100. Hell, for $150 you can have the bed and I’ll take the recliner. Just ‘keeping it real’.” She said, sarcasm dripping off ‘keeping it real’. I guess she took exception to that.
I nodded. “Hmm, ok. So, why ask me? There’s a room full of people and they’ve been here longer than me.” I asked.
Lonna looked at me incredulously. “What? One of the families and those screaming kids? No thanks. Sorry they’re stuck here and all but it’s a small room and I don’t need that level of chaos in my shit. The old couple looks scared of me, so does the young couple to be honest. The guys? The old dude or the trucker that smells like onions? No fucking way I’m letting either of them in my room. You’re a woman traveling alone, so you know you can’t be too careful and shit, you ain’t screaming or bitching and you don’t smell like onions. You are the most appealing option for me, and my room is a much better option for you too. Just ‘being real’.”
I sat back in the shitty chair and looked at Lonna and then looked around the room. I had to admit she made a good point and honestly, I’d pay $300 to get into a more comfortable seat at this point. The prospect of trying to sleep in this chair with my head resting on this table was in no way appealing. Lonna looked at me and raised an eyebrow and shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “Well bitch?”.
I nodded. “Well, that sounds like a helluva deal, but… I only have $60 cash on me, and I bet you don’t take cards.”
Lonna narrowed her gaze. “Are you trying to talk me down? Are you hustling me now?” she asked.
I chuckled. “Listen Lonna, I’m too fucking tired to bullshit you. I’ve got $60 in cash, it’s all yours and tomorrow morning if there is an ATM close, I’ll get the rest, but I’m not going to cross the artic to get you two $20 bills right now. $60 up front, the rest in the morning. If not, you can eat the cost of your room and I’ll stay in here and deal with the reality of my situation.”
Lonna had to smile at my rebuttal. As she pondered my offer, I studied her face. Not a traditional beauty, but she was pretty. The aforementioned tattoos, a partially shaved head on one side with longer braids on the other and numerous piercings in her eyebrows, nose and ears made me feel old. I don’t judge, or at least I try not to, but I had to admit face tattoos and abundant piercings just are not my thing. I don’t see the appeal. That being said, they did not make Lonna unattractive, but in my opinion made it harder to see how pretty she really was. But maybe that was the point of it all to begin with.
She nodded and said “OK, I think we have a deal. Cash is king, and if I did take cards, I would have asked for more than a hundred. Grab your shit and let’s go.”
“One sec, what’s your room number?” I asked.
“Why?” Lonna asked, seeming annoyed.
“I’m texting my husband, letting him know where I’m at.” I said.
Lonna jutted out her chin and nodded with a knowing smirk. “Ah, you’re covering yourself and being safe. Smart. Room 107.”
I texted Jack, told him I was in room 107 and I’d call him in the morning. I didn’t tell him the deal I had just brokered, knowing it would take too long and I just didn’t want to deal with a long text string or a phone call right now. I just needed to get out of this lobby and this chair from the 1990’s. I was pretty sure Lonna wasn’t going to tie me up and rob me and if shit did go sideways, I had my taser and at least Jack would know my last location.
I didn’t want to draw too much attention as we left but it was going to be impossible to leave and not be noticed by pretty much everyone. As I grabbed my suitcase and rolled it towards the door, almost everyone turned and looked at Lonna and I. The trucker said plenty loud enough for the entire lobby to hear, “Fucking Dykes.” Lonna turned, took two steps and kicked the table he was at hard enough to spill his coffee and hit his gut. “If you were the last man on Earth, every woman left would turn lez, you filthy mother fucker!” I had to chuckle as we walked out the door. This hardened bitch did not take an ounce of shit, that’s for certain.