Holiday Inn. What a catchy ring it has to it when you say it over and over again. It almost rolls off your tongue. We are even staying at one, and it's nice, but I'm struck by a few things. First off, it amazes me to no end how quickly you can turn a room into chaos within minutes of setting foot inside it. Secondly, it's interesting how homogeneous and generic the hotel experience is when you travel in this country, at least within a certain demographic, i.e., on the cheap, which is ours. And thirdly, I'm struck by how the room is really designed to revolve around one thing, which of course is a central figure in American culture: the TV. It is the most important fixture in the room from the looks of it. What's really impressive is how all hotels, even the lower end ones, have these massive, high end TVs. Our last one had two!
It makes me think I'm missing something here, but that's obvious. Now I know how I rail on TV and how evil I think it is and how it has no redeeming qualities, but since we're convalescing here in Omaha, we figured a little tube time might assuage our ailing hearts while we recuperate, or should I say, vituperate? Sorry, I just like the sound of that word.
Anyway, being the hypocritical parent and all, we turned on the tube in search of entertainment, i.e., cartoons. I'll tell you one thing, between the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, there sure are a lot more cartoon choices then when I was a kid. And you know what the most amazing thing about them is? They are all a bunch of garbage. Somehow the new technology has created these simply awful shows that we are force feeding the youth of America. Sponge Bob is a part of this problem, BTW. I'm not saying they were any better when I was a kid, but when I look at them now, they are just so bad. This cheesy Flash animation and so many flashing images, it gave me a headache. And don't get me started on the commercials.
Well, in a moment that warmed our hearts, A actually asked if we could turn off the TV because to her the programs were just silly and a waste of time. Wow, where did that come from? Not that I'm complaining, and it's possible she was just trying to placate her grouchy, uptight parents, but it was a nice moment. It's also possible that they were geared to a younger audience and she is more into the whole Manga thing. Either way, we shut it off, and it was nice having the beast silent. Those commercials really get to me.
In terms of the generic experience, I can honestly say that walking around the hotel, I think we could be almost anywhere in this country. I'm talking low to medium budget hotels, they are very similar. Though they are a step above Motel 6, it is only a small step.
One thing we look for is the complimentary breakfast, though again, these are generally the same, too. The food is the same, the people are the same, and the overall experience is the same. Which of course means lots of greasy food and as much of it as you can stuff into yourself. It can be a little discouraging when it's served with disposable everything, right down to the individual butter and syrup containers, but again, it's familiar. And very little in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables, and what little is there doesn't get touched. Not even by me! Then again, I don't count bananas as fresh fruit.
I'm guessing they have the drill down, and that they know people want the familiar experience to make travel more comfortable. I can understand the comfort part, because traveling is difficult, but I also wonder if you're simply relocating your living room, why travel? The trials and challenges are pieces of the puzzle, and rather than avoid them, embrace them as part of the adventure. When you confront and overcome them, you grow as a person, succumbing less to fear and realizing that the world is not such a daunting place. Sure, it isn't easy, but the alternative is always living in fear of a moment that more often than not, never arrives. And then you're left kicking yourself because you "should have" or "could have." Life is one big "what if?" and that's a terrible way to live.
I know this firsthand because it's how I lived most of my life, before I became a father and before I began real man training with my Mentor. I still have a ways to go, but I'm working on it.
Until the next time, thanks for reading.