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Greetings From The Airport
byThomas Sullivan

Driving into your $150-a-night hotel near the airport, you look up at the sign and wonder just what exactly an “Executel” is. A place where an executive tells his secretary that he's not leaving his wife?  In the lobby you watch a man in a full length arm-cast shrug off the unhappy family that just plodded up the stairs, shaking their heads in unison.  You fight off the urge to ask the man if his injury is guest related, and check in for the night. The man alerts you that the penalty for smoking in your room is $500. He looks at you blankly when you say that if your neighbor keeps you awake tonight, you’ll just blow cigarette smoke under his door and let him take the fall.

It’s time for a little exercise, so you head down to the hotel gym. Inside a small room with faded yellow paint and dirty carpeting you consider your workout choices – a broken stair stepper or a love seat facing the TV hanging from the roof. You sink into the weathered chair and do leg lifts while watching Fox News.

The workout wipes you out, so you head for the hottub. If you blink too quickly the greyish water seems to not be moving at all.  You sink into the tub and pitch to the side as you butt cheek comes to rest in a missing chunk of concrete on the seat ledge.

You head out to the conference and return a few hours later. You slip into your room and ponder your choices for the evening. Breathing in the retirement-home air, you realize that television doesn’t sound all that appealing. You turn on the TV anyway. America’s Most Outrageous Videos shows a kid on a BMX bike doing a faceplant. You snap the set off and consider reading, but this won’t work with your tired eyes. The lounge is an option, but you don’t really want to get swept up in a prostitution sting.

But the hint of danger is irresistible and you head for the lounge. On the door to the bar you see a sign that says: “Due to safety and health concerns, shirt and shoes are required on the premises.” You head back to your room for a shirt. You return to the empty lounge and wait for the tender, who is in the dining room next door serving meals.  When she enters the bar you order a beer and watch the episode of Cops on the television.

A few minutes later two guys drop into the table nearest you and order four Budweisers. Looking at the beefy pair, you realize that there’s a bud moon on the rise.  You finish up, stroll past the near-empty dining room with a plaque out front reading “Maximum Occupancy 106,” and head for your room.

As a jet roars directly over you room, you lie on the lumpy bed and realize that being alone is sometimes your best option.