Friday, January 19, 2007

Worst Hotel Ever

OK, I’ve probably stayed in worse hotels than the Shreveport Downtown Holiday Inn, but I can’t recall them at the moment. Approximately 15 feet behind the hotel is a railroad track, along which freight trains run all night (and day), every hour or so. My room was at the back of the hotel, on the fourth floor. If it had been on the ground floor, I would have literally been 15 feet from the tracks. The arrival of each train was preceeded by long blasts from its horn, presumably because there was some sort of crossing nearby. Then the rumbling and screeching (the tracks curved around the back of the hotel, increasing the duration of the train’s passage as well as the high-pitched sounds of steel wheels straining against steel tracks) would commence, eventually reaching a peak that would have seemed artificially loud in a theater. If I hadn’t been woken by the horn blasts and had momentarily forgotten I was on the fourth floor, I would have been convinced that the train was about to slam into my room. I should have changed rooms, I suppose, but I guess I’m cursed with the sort of implacable optimism that leads me to believe that there can’t possibly be any more trains at this hour, that each sleep-shattering passage is the last.

Last night, eight or nine trains passed by my room.

At least the food was, if not great, a slightly welcome change from my diet of turkey sandwiches and chicken caesar salads. The only option in the restaurant for lunch (I usually try not to miss breakfast, but I forced myself to sleep, or at least lie in bed, until 11) was the buffet—no individual orders possible. Once I’d remembered that I was really in the South, I quite enjoyed the barbecued ribs, mashed potatoes, ham, turnip greens (I stupidly called them spinach and was disdainfully corrected by the server), salad and coffee—all for the price of a couple double lattes.

The day before it took us almost six hours to complete the one-hour flight from Dallas to Shreveport, and on the plane I met a young actress who was on her way to Shreveport for the filming of her first starring role—an independent feature. We met again in the lobby of the hotel, where she told me she’d be staying for a month.

Ah, the glamorous lives of movie stars and touring musicians.

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