Leaving a store visit in New Orleans I barely fit into the tiny toy rental car with my swelling seven month pregnant belly. The exhaustion of pregnancy had set in long ago, but my job’s expectations and priorities had not shifted. I had been working in the store from opening until ten thirty that night, manually moving large fixtures, product, and strategizing displays. I energetically spoke with customers, dashing across the store and through the tiny back room, seeking out the product they wished for. My back was in pain, my feet swelled and shot burning laser beams throughout the rest of my legs. Baby A in my belly was docile, this complication worrying myself and the doctors over the past two months.
It was a blessing and curse to be in New Orleans. A blessing as it was a place that I always felt consumed in invigoration and inspiration. A curse because my pregnant body could not handle much more excitement. A blessing because I was staying near the airport, away from the upbeat rhythms of Bourbon street. But a curse because I would miss a morning of breakfast and strategizing sales in the sanctity of the Musical Legends Park, munching on Beignets and taking naughty caffeinated sips from an ever so scrumptious Granita.
Entering the LaQuinta that appeared quite dated I found myself bombarded with the wafting clouds of smoke. I felt as if I was walking through storm clouds with the thunderous raging party piled in and seeping out of the tiny lobby bar. The neon fleur de louis was but a faint hazy glow as I rolled my suitcase up to the front desk. I handed her my license accompanied with my Platinum Members Reward Card, and the woman shot me a sympathetic and kind glance before sifting through a notebook. The records were not being kept in a computer system, but instead scribbled by hand in a large binder.
“Uhm…” her pause worried me. Perhaps the further curse was that I was a seven month pregnant woman stranded without a room in New Orleans. “Let me see if I can find you a room.” I looked back at the overcrowded bar once more which appeared to be filled with business men, crooked ties and worn pants from a day of conferences; they had the freedom to unwind their overworked bodies and minds. “Oh here, here it is.” Despite their archaic recording system she did have the ability to create a key card. “Here, it is room 524”
I took the key card, and her face of pity was slowly turning into a face of anxious nerves. I wondered what she knew that I didn’t. I reached the fifth floor, full of men traveling alone for business roaming the halls, highly intoxicated. Their doors hung open as whatever huge game they were invested in blared from every room. The stench of smoke was gone, but the noise was somehow worse.
All the way at the end of the hall was my room. Before inserting my key into the slot I paused to consider the woman’s face of apprehension. I placed my ear against the door. It was difficult with all the hullabaloo to really be able to tell if the murmuring from the TV was coming from within or if it was indeed just resonating from the rest of the hall. I also considered that the maids quite often absentmindedly leave their soap operas on once finishing a room.
I knocked. There was no response. I knocked once more, this time louder. Again only the same humming murmur from before. I placed the key into the slot and then opened the door. There, between the two full beds, sat a man in khaki cargo shorts and an unbuttoned hawaiian shirt. Beside him sat two near empty six packs of Bud Light. For a moment I hung in the door way, taking in the observations. He glanced over to me and gave a kind smile, “hey beautiful.”
If the cans weren’t proof enough this comment confirmed that he was obviously drunk; I felt like a whale. “Hey, I’m so sorry, I’m guessing they gave me the wrong room.”
He gave a playful smile, “I got two beds, you’re more than free to hang here and watch the game!”
I smiled back, I considered all the possible scenarios that could have played out upon opening the door and I figured this playful jest was the tamest. “No, I’ve had a long day, but thank you so much for your kind offer.” We both gave a small laugh before he zoned back into the kaleidoscopic screen.
As the elevator doors opened to the lobby, the girl behind the counter looked embarrassed and unsurprised at my reemerging. “I’m so sorry; already occupied?”
“Yes,” she flinched, but I laughed. While she refigured a card for me I told her about the humorous encounter. The new room was on the top floor, so here was hoping for no fires or false alarms through the night.
I turned on TCM and ordered a Papa Johns personal pan pepperoni, my belly yearning for any sort of supper, and sat back to enjoy a well earned restful evening evening in New Orleans, said no one ever.
I’ve entered this photo into Cee’s “which way” photo challenge feel free to check out the other contestants, some really neat pictures, and get to know some new to you talented bloggers.