Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Welcome to the All-Saints Motel

AT DUFFY LAKE:  I can't see this picture without thinking of
 my late mother-in-law Ria's eponymous dog or my pal Duff McCutcheon.

This story begins with me screaming. 

Calling out to my daughter Ewa to save my life. 

And it's true. 

And it's got a moral. Or two.

Late August of 2019 found Ewa and me motorcycling around British Columbia; her on her marvelous single-cylinder BMW f650 and me on a borrowed 600 cc Honda Shadow. We'd left Vancouver at about 8 a.m. and spent the next eight hours riding through some of the most scenic country on the planet.

First up the Sea-to-Sky Highway past Whistler then along Highway 99 to Pemberton. We're talking a twisty hilly road that sometimes had a mountain on one side and a cliff on the other, frequently with no guardrail. We stopped at a place called Duffy Lake and then rode near Lillooet, one of the towns worst hit by forest fires that year. About suppertime, we landed at Cache Creek.  

I was tired, hungry, thirsty and very pleased with myself.

The day before, in Vancouver, I used some computer program to help reserve a motel room in Cache Creek. Because of the fires that year, I thought most space would be rented out to firefighters and others and I was right. Vacancies were scarce, but I did manage to locate one roadside place in Cache Creek. I filled in all the little boxes and my credit card number and the three-digit number on the back that I have to check no matter how many times I use it. 

EWA: Burning up the scenery

The motel was right on the main highway and when we pulled in, the only other vehicle in the lot was a white pick-up. Everybody else, I figured, was out firefighting. 

Ewa and I entered the lobby; the man behind the counter asked what we wanted; we told him we'd made reservations. He looked at his computer and shook his head. He couldn't find our names in the system. And he added that he was full up. 

Some people, in a situation like this, demand explanations. I go the other way and it usually works. I do not show how frustrated I am. No matter how steamed I might feel, I try to never react angrily. 

My M.O: Smile, like I did, and say a quick prayer to St. Gabriel the Archangel, the patron saint of diplomacy. (Look it up! He's the guy whose job was to tell Mary she was a few months gone even though she had never, well, you know.)

You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish with a bit of well-delivered malarky.

I once arrived at the United Airlines check-in gate at Pearson International Airport on my way to Houston, Texas, for work, and realized I'd forgotten all my documentation at home. No passport, no ticket; just a driver's licence. In less than a nanosecond, I channeled Gabe and miraculously came up with a busload of blarney that included the fact that if I didn't make the flight I'd get fired from my new job and even worse I'd be looking at 15 to life in the doghouse. Whatever I said worked. I made the flight. 

I knew it might in British Columbia, too.

After Mr. Clerk said he didn't have our names, I still did not challenge him. But asked if he could find some place please, for me and my daughter, to spend the night. (I know. You're thinking St. Joseph, right? I bet there's a saint out there for every desperate human condition.)

Whatever spiel I gave him worked and eventually, he found us a room and handed over a key. We parked the bikes and walked across the road and found one of the finest pizzas either of us have ever eaten at Manie's Grill and Pizza. While we waited at Manie's, I started telling Ewa about how every small-town mom and pop motel owner must hate the Hitchcock movie Psycho, because they all get compared, at one point or another to the Bates Motel.

THAT'S IT! Maybe all the other guests were 
Especially when guests are told there's no vacancies when it sure looks like there's vacancies. 

We returned to the motel, and I sat out front of the room with a beer, looking across the empty parking lot at the mountains, when around the corner comes Mr. Clerk, carrying a stack of towels to, he told me, the washing machines. He asked where we'd ridden from and told me how hard it is to get good trustworthy help. So he's doing everything around the place and his wife was at home and he actually gestured toward a house high up on hill across the road.

I could tell you lots more about the chap. He was extremely friendly and knowledgeable about world affairs and the United Nations but after 20 minutes or so it became clear that towel cleaning was not a priority. The man wanted to talk and even though we were having one of the most interesting conversations I had all week, it --and this is almost unheard of-- was me that ended the conversation. While we were conversing, I counted vehicles as they arrived at the motel and the total came to zero. 

I went in; Ewa and I laughed about the fact that I really believed there's a scene in Psycho involving Norma Bates delivering sheets but I might be remembering wrongly. But the Bates/ Cache Creek jokes ran longer than they should have, I guess.

One slender consonant away from Normal
Because at about 2:30 a.m., I woke up screaming. 

Calling Ewa's name. Mr. Nice Clerk had busted into our room and was coming at me with an axe. Typed on this computer screen, in little letters, the incident doesn't look nearly so horrible as it was. 

I was afraid down to my bones. Sweating maybe. Ewa was, on the other hand, being polite by not laughing too loudly.

Here's the thing: I believe that one's behaviour in dreams reflects how one would act in real life so now I know that if an axe murderer ever does come after me, I'm going to turn into the world-class fraidy cat that I am and might even call to one of my kids for help. Manly, I know.

Ewa is in fact very helpful; I had forgotten about that dream until Ewa laughingly reminded me of it last week. Another lesson here is, you never know what people especially your kids are going to remember and remind you of, sometimes years after the fact. So be careful. 

But finally, all that stuff about wanting all your dreams to come true? Buncha malarky.

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