The Meadowlark Blockbuster Video Rental Store!

Last night, around 8 pm, we were just hanging out in the lobby with several of our guests and our door opened. In walked a man, around 60 years of age, thin, dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt, a baseball cap on his longish gray hair sporting a long graying beard. George turns to him and says "Can I help you?" "Well, I just wanted to come in and see your lobby and see if I can borrow a few movies." We heard a lot of weird requests in the past ten years, but this was a first.

"Um, do you live around here? We don't really lend our movies out." "No, I am staying at the motel across the street." Wait! What?? "I am doing work for them and while I am there working, I am staying at their motel." Ok, this made it a little bit better. It wasn't just one of their guests wandering over here asking for movies. But how did he even know we had movies in our lobby??

"Well, I guess you can borrow some if you promise to bring them back," George said. "Can I get your name and address?" "I don't have an address. I am currently living at the motel across the street. I am just traveling around looking for work." So with just a name and a pinky swear, he was off to pick and choose which flicks he would like to bring back to his room. But did they even have DVD players in their rooms? I didn't think so. Did he carry around his own portable DVD? Who knows.

Odder was his selection of movies that he brought over to the front desk... Crossroads starring Ralph Machio, Dirty Dancing and Mama Mia. Not a new release in the bunch! So as his job progresses, we will see if our new friend is a daily visitor or just a one time video "rental" customer.

No Room At The Inn!

This past weekend was The Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. It is the mother of all weekends up here. I heard that just under 100,000 people converged on Cooperstown. Every hotel, motel, inn and B&B for miles is booked months in advance. You could set up a tent on your lawn and rent it no problem if you wanted to. I'm surprised George hasn't started doing this. "Meadowlark T&B, Tent & Breakfast." I know several people that actually leave their homes for four days and rent them out. Front lawns become paid parking lots. And when the inductees are popular, the weekend can be that much worse, I mean..... exciting.

Induction is a great weekend for us, as most of our guests are returning year after year. They are even getting to know each other and some correspond throughout the year. Because of the influx of people into the area, I make sure I put out the "No Vacancy" sign to discourage people from coming in with the hopes that we may have an open room.

It was Saturday night and a car pulled up. I heard someone (standing directly in front of the NO VACANCY sign) yelling to one of our guests "Is there a room available?" "No, I don't think so, but you can check at the front desk." Door opens. "Do you have a room?" "No, I'm sorry we are booked." "I just drove all the way here from Connecticut. This is BS (I used initials, he didn't). We passed a few motels and they were booked too." "Well it is Induction Weekend. The busiest weekend of the year. Did you know that?" "Of course I know that! That's why I'm here!" "Well let me make a few phone calls and see if I can find you a place. Maybe someone has a cancellation." After several phone calls, I said, "No, I'm sorry, there is nothing out there."

That is when he flipped out. As if we took Words With Friends away from Alec Baldwin, "No room at the inn!! There's no room at the inn!! Why do you people even live here?? Where is the Dunkin Donuts?? How can you live without a Dunkin Donuts? There is nothing up here! I haven't seen anything but hills and mountains for miles." Ironically, what we love most about the area, this guy found to be appalling.

Trying to calm him down, George said, "Let me make another phone call." Why George, Why?? Why are you trying to help this guy?? He's just yelling at us. Like it's our fault he drove four hours on the busiest weekend of the year without a reservation. We told him Cooperstown was just 11 miles south of us if he wanted to go check it out. "I don't care. I don't even want to see it! I want to get the heck out of this area and go home. I don't know why people say this area is nice! Some people say they don't like Florida, but I love Florida!" OMG, just leave already!! Why are we talking about Florida now??? He stormed out and got into his car to his waiting girlfriend. And yup, they drove out of our driveway and went the opposite way of Cooperstown. Home. And literally left two innkeepers standing like deer in a headlight, mouths open!

And with that, I am sure he was his own hero! "Come on honey, I'm taking you home to civilization, to the flat lands of Dunkin Donuts and multiple hotel vacancies."

A Meadowlark Wake-Up Call!

At the risk of putting fear into the minds of every future Meadowlark guest, I couldn't pass up telling this story. Now mind you, NOTHING like this has EVER happened at the Meadowlark before! It is pretty much the safest place on earth. Really!

The other day as I was waking up, I glanced out of the bedroom window at the beautiful morning that was unfolding. The sun was coming up, the dew was shining off the blades of grass, the state troopers were knocking on Room 10's door. Wait, what?? OMG, George!!!! It's 6:15 and there are two state troopers in the backyard.

George went running out to see what the problem was. They were looking for someone that called about a man that was hurt. At this time, the gentleman staying in our Suite came out of his room. From the window I could see his animated arms as the story was being told. Hmmm. This doesn't look good. The troopers stayed about 10 more minutes and then left. Their case was closed.

George came back in and told me that apparently one of our guests had had a few (or dozen) too many and ended up in another guest's room at 4 am. This second guest hadn't locked their door and awoke to someone staring at them. This would have personally scared the bejezzus out of me. Note to self: always lock your door when you go to bed, always...everywhere. They both heard the bedroom door open and Lynda said to her boyfriend Bill, "Is that Frank?" (her son who was sleeping on the couch in the other room). "No it's a man...with a beard." Who would possibly stay calm in this situation, but...

All I can say is that this inebriated guest had walked in on the right person. Lynda, who definitely sprouted some angel wings this weekend, immediately got out of bed and spoke to this man. "Who are you, are you ok, where do you belong?" She said she instantly knew this man was no danger, but he was hurt, bleeding, drunk, had on only one shoe and was soaking wet from the storm that was happening outside at the time. A true angel, she wrapped him in a blanket, laid him down in front of the heater, while her boyfriend went to call 911. Because there was a storm going on at the time, the state troopers took 1 1/2 hours to arrive, so Lynda and Bill took care of this man until that time. They were able to eventually find out that he belonged here at our place and they were able to get him back to his room and back to bed.

By the time the troopers got here, the guest was back in his own room. They didn't know which room the call came from. So instead of coming and ringing our bell at the lobby, these state troopers decided to go room to room. That morning, the Meadowlark wake up call for ALL of our rooms was 6 am with two state troopers asking each individual guest, "Is everyone OK in there?" Thanks trooper guys, maybe you should have come to the lobby first.

After talking to Lynda and Bill in depth about the events that night, I realized that if it had been me, maybe I would have been too quick to judge the situation. I imagined myself screaming while I forced the intruder back out into the night. Even George's heart of gold got a little bit tarnished when Bill was telling us what happened. George's response, "I don't mean to be insensitive, but did any blood get on our carpet?" Lol. Really, George, that's your first response?

Instead, Lynda took the time to determine the real situation. I believe she quite possibly could have saved his life or prevented a serious injury. If he had passed out in that storm, who knows what could have happened to him. And the next morning, after only having four hours sleep, they never once complained about the happenings. Makes me definitely look at my life and want to be a better person. Maybe I won't be too quick to judge that middle of the night intruder. But then again, maybe that lock will always be turned to avoid any misjudgings on my part.

Walking That Tightwire Called "Friendliness"

Sometimes I never know how friendly to be with a guest. I try to read people as they come in. Maybe they want to be quiet and read the paper or a book while having breakfast. Maybe they want to know a little bit about the area. I try not to overstep my boundaries, but sometimes I go too far.

Take last week’s guests. Two very nice couples. Parents and their son and his wife. The father came in early for coffee and George and I enjoyed our morning talks with him.

I enjoyed talking with all of them but maybe a bit too much. After reading today's TripAdvisor review, I learned a few new spelling words. A five star review. Great! A nice title. Good! Our place is immaculate and comfortable with a good breakfast. Perfect!

And... friendly, gregarious. Wait, what? Oh, man, this is one of those moments I wish I had done better in English class. Well, they wrote it next to the word friendly, so it is probably a good thing. As I press the button "define" on my iPhone I am hoping it is something complimentary - "Fond of company, sociable." Phew.

But wait there's more - "perhaps even a bit garrulous."  Oh that can't be good! That just sounds insulting. As I press "define" once again, I just know this is going to be something I wish I wasn't - "Excessively talkative, especially on trivial matters." Ugh!!

Really? Oh my god, I am so going to keep quiet from now on. Sometimes when I feel a little too comfortable with people, maybe I do talk too much. But wait, he said WE were garrulous. Maybe it was George that talked too much! No, I'm sure it was me.

Oh well, for those future guests out there that find me quiet, reserved, keeping to myself... I'm not being unfriendly. I'm just trying to give you your space and not overstep my boundaries. I'm going to work at being somewhere in the middle - gregariously ungarrulous (yes, I know those aren't words!). And hopefully the next TripAdvisor review will be something like - friendly. That's it. Just friendly! With nothing next to it that I have to "define."

Ironing Out Those "Beginning of Season" Kinks!

This past Thursday George was doing some minor construction in our Suite. He was putting up kitchen cabinets and there was some construction debris in that room. We had a couple checking in for four days but they weren't arriving until Friday. Or so we thought.

That Thursday afternoon while we were in the lobby a couple walked in. "We're here!"  the husband said as they walked in. George looked at me and said "Who's here??"  I quickly ran to the computer and NO, I got it wrong. This couple was not checking in on Friday, they were checking in on Thursday, AND in the suite. That same room that, the last time I checked, George hadn't exactly finished cleaning up his construction mess.

Me, being the opposite of calm, tried to put on my best face and said that the room was just about ready and it would only be about ten minutes. As I ran as fast as I could with cleaning rags in hand to see the disaster that is Construction George, I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn't anywhere as bad as I thought it would be.

As I was cleaning the room, unbeknownst to me, George was being totally upfront with our new guests. "Truth be told, Tina thought you were checking in tomorrow." Thanks George. I'll get you back tomorrow morning! This was just the first of our innkeeper faux pas that we were about to unleash on these poor people.

In the beginning of our season, there always seems to be a few kinks that we need to iron out. And this weekend, they seemed to happen all at once. To this one couple. Now I have to say that this could have been a bad TripAdvisor review waiting to happen, but somehow we all got along very well. Even after George forgot to turn their hot water heater on. That next morning Michael and Sharon did not seem to share our concern for energy savings. They actually wanted a hot shower. Strike two.

Then when they were having breakfast waiting for their water to heat up, they commented on how there was no Internet. Hmmm, maybe it had something to do with George getting annoyed with our computer the night before and shutting off the power strip that the modem was plugged into. Strike three. And yes, I threw George under the bus for both strike two and three. Now mind you, Michael and Sharon never seemed to complain about any of these things. And they had every right to.

On to strike four. The next morning Michael told me about how his Galaxy 4 turned into a remote control and this was good because the remote in the room didn't work. Ugh! I forgot to check all the remotes in the rooms to make sure they worked before we opened. There's too much to check!! Two remotes, clocks, refrigerators, microwaves, emergency lights, irons x 12 rooms. I'm exhausted already. Well, thank you crazy cell phone technology. No one wants to get up and down to change the channels! That is so 1975! 

All this (and I am probably leaving out a few things) and never once did it seem like they were complaining. I don't think this nice couple was going to let anything bother their vacation. Thank you Michael and Sharon for being so understanding. I enjoyed our morning laughs and if you happen to be back in the area, I can guarantee that there will be a room ready, hot showers, available internet, and a warm and friendly face to greet you at the door!

I'll Find Something Wrong With This Place, Dammit!

Some people have this overwhelming need to complain about something. If there is nothing to complain about, they will find something! One couple stayed with us this week that seemed to be digging for something. Anything!

When they came in for breakfast, there was a table that was empty. A table for two. They immediately asked me, "Where are we supposed to sit?" Well how about this table here? You know, the empty table that you are standing right next to?? "Oh, ok. But this table has no silverware on it." Well the silverware is right next to the dishes. Help yourself to everything, and let us know if you want any waffles. They both ordered waffles. One with cinnamon and strawberries, no powdered sugar, sugar free syrup, the other was chocolate chips and powdered sugar, regular syrup. I felt as though they were trying to confuse me, so I would slip up and whalla, they'd have their complaint! But no, I was determined to get things right!

This particular couple was always looking around. Almost seeming to look for something that they could find that was wrong. But they found nothing. Which seemed very frustrating for them.

They were here for two days and upon check out they finally found something that they just had to complain about. "It was all very nice here, but I do have one complaint. You have a sign in the bathroom to conserve energy and water we should hang our towels up or put them on the floor if we want them replaced. But you only have two hooks on the wall. You should really think of installing more hooks if you'd like us to conserve energy." Well, we do have those two on the wall and another behind the door and another one next to the mirror. So that makes four hooks (for your TWO towels). But even telling him there were four hooks in the bathroom wasn't good enough. "I think you should really consider adding more hooks. It just doesn't seem to be enough."

As I stood there with my deer in the headlights look on my face, George jumped in, "Oh, ok, thank you so much for the suggestion. We will look into installing more hooks," he said with a smile forced upon his face. He's always so much better at these things than me. I think he was afraid that I might have continued asking, Why is four hooks not enough? What are you hanging in there? Your laundry? And how about the towel bar that the bath mat is hung on? That's like another long hook and how about the whole shower curtain rod, I bet three towels can go across that whole rod. 

As he walked out the door, George and I just looked at each other, shaking our heads. He dug and he dug and he found something he needed to tell us about. I am sure he was very pleased with himself. I'm sure at some point these words were spoken on the car ride home, "It was nice, but they needed more hooks." And with that, I'm sure they grinned, nodded their heads in unison... Their job was done.

You Called Us What???

What a fantastic couple of days. So many people were checking in and checking out commenting on our Trip Advisor reviews. "You really lived up to your reviews," "Everything we read about you was right." Etc.  I could listen to praise of our place all day long. But alas, that all came to a screeching halt at about 6 pm.

As they walked in, I felt an icy cold breeze brush across my skin. The husband's first words were the ultimate, all time dreaded words that I hate to hear. "Oh... you're... just a motel," as he looked around the lobby. What do you mean we are just a motel?? Really?? Does a motel feel like you are walking into someones living room?? Does a motel take so much care and effort in trying to make you feel like you are staying with a friend?? Does a motel give you such a nice breakfast??

Of course, I said none of that. I bit my tongue and said absolutely nothing. More afraid of not being able to stop once I started my diatribe.

I checked them in and off they went to their room. Of course, I knew it was only a matter of time before the lobby phone rang with some sort of problem. Oh, there it was. Earlier than expected. They were only in their room 7.6 seconds when the phone rang. "The TV remote doesn't work." I'll be right down. How come I knew that there would be no problem at all with the remote once I got there. As I pressed the buttons, the channels changed. "Oh, I guess I am going to have to stand in the exact spot you are standing in if I want to change channels," he said. No. Look. I can move around the room and be right where you are and it still works. See. Yes, I did say that as I walked around the room changing channels, turning the TV on and off and being a bit more dramatic than I needed to be.

As I gave him back the remote and walked out, he said to me "I hope I don't have to call you again!" Somehow I knew that was not to be. I hadn't even made it back to the lobby when the phone started ringing again. "The TV remote's not working again." Oh... my... God!!! On my way back, I swapped out remotes with another room hoping he would have better luck pressing the buttons with a different remote. As I gave him the new one, he asked me, "Where is your ice machine?" Ahhh... this was going to be a glorious 2 days. 

I'm sorry, we don't have an ice machine. But I can go get you an ice bucket. "Well I don't want it now. I want it right before I go to bed because I need to fill up my ice pack for...  blah, blah, blah," You lost me at "just a motel." 

The next morning as they walked in and I gave them a "Good Morning! Would either of you like a waffle?" I got no response or even a glance my way. They whispered to each other and without looking at me said, "Yes we will both take a waffle." I quickly made them their waffles and walked away knowing there would be no small talk. And after breakfast, no goodbye, no have a nice day, no acknowledgement of our presence.

And this was how it went for two days. Basically no acknowledgement but at least there were no more problems. I don't think they hated it here but who knows. They never officially checked out. Just got in their car and left the key in their room. Hmmm... Maybe they did hate it here. Because you know, we are... just a motel. Ugh!!