Saturday, July 29, 2006

Nightmare on Route 1

Never again. I thought a few days in Maine would be a refreshing, relaxing elixir to my tired soul. Yeah. right.

My magical get-away began with delivering Max to the Doggie DaySpa. He was having none of that. I printed up a sheet with contact information, medical information, and a few things people spending time with Max should know, including what he can and can not have, do, etc. On this sheet I put a list of words it is unwise to say in front of Max.

The brilliant Spa technician read the list... aloud. When she got to "Starbucks" he vapor locked, by the time she hit "Post Office" he was off to the races. The genius who can't read silently let him loose, another genius thought to himself "I am a big, strong man, and saying his name firmly and fiercely will cause this little 20 pound pug to cease this behavior."

Ahmed could have explained to him, had he been there, that if a big man says "MAX" to Max in a controlling manner he pretty much unleashes a can of "yer-not-the-boss-of-me" on them. Fast forward to Max growling and barking at the big guy til he picks him up. (At that stage of the control contest Max always forfeits and switches to licking and gyrating playfully-- and somewhat apologetically.) Fine. Bye Max. (As I drive away, incidentally, I see him explode into the play-yard and terrify the collection of Labradors, Goldens, a Mastiff, Sheepdog, and Dalmation into absolute frozen panic as he does laps around them, clustered in the center of the fenced area. He is probably doing a buck-fifty, moving so fast his tail is uncurling and bobbing in the wind-force.)

Whatever.

Mother and I head north. We stop in Kittery, check out a few factory outlets, have lunch, and proceed onward. So far so good. We have decided to "take route 1" up the coast. Mom was going to drive, but has begun to have problems with her legs, so I take over. It's supposed to be a slow and easy day for me on Thursdays, since I have my weekly treatment on Wednesday and it leaves me run down and tired.

Right.

We wander up route 1, blow through Biddeford, and somehow manage to see not a single building on the University of New England campus, which was the point of going up route 1 at this juncture, but we do see lots of Rite-Aid pharmacies, Dairy Qeens, Mister Bagels, and Hanneford markets. It's Maine.

At long last we arrive at Freeport and pull in to the hotel my mom picked out. I am a hotel snob. Mom is a "roughing it" kind of gal, and picked the Super 8. A phone call to them ensured her that she would have a handicapped-accessible room with frig and microwave for the diabetic who is on a cane and the PF patient. Ummmm.

No handicapped access. ALL rooms are inside off hallways (no locks or key-entry, the universe is welcome to prowl the dark hallway outside your room). The handicapped PARKING is by the office, none anywhere near the room entries, and no direct access to any room, period. Mom goes in to check us in, showing the required AAA card, while I check this out. Coming out of the office she gets to the only ramp anywhere on the property and there is no handrail. The ramp is poorly marked and mostly blocked by the noses of the cars in front of it. She goes down on the uneven ledge and lands face-first on the concrete.

She can't move. The heat is BOILING. She is bleeding everywhere. Face cut and scraped, hand, foot, and knee bashed and bleeding. I rush to her, assisted by two strangers. She can't move. I finally get her upright enough to sit on the edge of the ramp and scramble to the car for ice. The nurse and I put ice on her, examine her knee (her knees, btw, are her disability) and toe. It looks bad.

The charming knight-errant who works for Super 8 helpfully announces that he has no band-aids and walks back into the office. That was it.

Turns out the handicapped parking is 3 times as far from the room as the regular parking, and the room is up a short incline on concrete with large, overlapping lips of raised walkway. No ramp. In an unsecure door, down a hallway... voila! The completely-not-handicapped-accessible room you ordered with the broken frig... enjoy your stay.

I get mom situated, ice everything swelling, try to staunch everything bleeding. We rifle through the phone book and find a local medical center not TOO far away. Our first night in Freeport is a 6 hour medical center stay. X-rays, CAT-scan, MRI, painkillers, a knee brace, and follow-up instructions. How far back these injuries have set her physical movement and well being will only show in time. She has sprained an already very badly damaged knee, badly sprained wrist, has a concussion, possibly an internally broken nose, and so forth. She looks like she lost a fight. She is, bravely, using her cane rather than being wheel-chaired about, but she moves like one of the zombies from Thriller.

I am pissed. We get back to the hotel, and I am ready to burst into exhausted tears, but I'm too busy being insanely angry.

We buckle down, sleep, get up the next day, and take two short trips: one to Bailey Island. Next we jaunt off to a very special 50's-family-style place in Grey, Maine called Cole Farms. LOVED it. Great food, great prices, the best service I have ever experienced. Plus mum went there as a kid and that was a cool thing to share. AND the manager (really sweet young woman) found us a wheelchair to borrow and a special booth for mom. Rockin'! I make one stop at the only store I really wanted to see, spend 80 bucks on expensive beads and gemstones, and we go back to the hotel.

I take photographs of the long, dangerous hallway, the crappy, uneven ramp with no handrail, the DISTANCE between the crappy, uneven ramp with no handrail and the not-even-close-to-handicapped-accessible room, and cetera. There is still blood all over the ramp.

The Super 8 checkin-counter-jackass notices.

We chill, look at my goodies, and go out to dinner. Crickets, route 1-- lovely place, pretty good prices. (Note to self: research possible reasons EVERYONE in Mid-Coastal region of Maine parks to deliberately take up two spaces.)

I deliver mum to the door, help her to the room, then come BACK out to park the car. It has been approximately 28 hours since my mother was injured. Super 8 guy, who noticed my photo-activity, shouts out "how is your mother?" I inform him she spent the night in the emergency room and walk away. JACKASS.

We sleep. Mom takes the painkillers, does her best, and we make due, since everything in town is full and this is what we are stuck with. Before we bed down I go to take more photos, run into a glitch with the camera, run up the street to the market, and buy a disposable.

A guy named Steve, who smells of rotting fish, asks me with a greasy smile if I am pregnant as I enter the store. I ignore him and he continues, explaining that he "likes pregnant women." (I am not pregnant, just fat, and wearing a shirt with a baby-doll cut to it, which could easily be mistaken for maternity wear.) Upon exiting on the opposite end of the store a few moments later I encounter Steve again, who points out that he was smart enough to know I'd "try to trick him" by going to the other door. I reach into my purse and extract the military-strength pepper-spray-on-a-ring my baby got me JUST for these occasions.

"This is pepper spray. My thumb is on the safety. Did you have anything else to say?"

The manager (I think) tells Steve (he knew his name, which is how I do) to cut it out or he will call the cops, and the unspoken "AGAIN" is flashing above Steve's head like neon.

Next day (day three, this morning) we are eager to depart the Death Motel. I get up early, get ready, then get mum up to do the same while I pack and drag crap out to the SUV, wheezing and gurgling in the heat and humidity, which kicks my ass. On the second trip somebody who works for Super 8 catches my eye and says "good morning" in a way that seems to indicate I was giving him a surly look. You know... sarcastic "good morning" as if your crankiness is an offense to this person's cheerful disposition. I gave him my best "screw-with-an-Irish-witch-and-stock-up-on-genital-rash-cream" stare. Oddly, he went away very fast.

I check us out. Quiet as a mouse as a new person at the desk hands me the bill, and I'm tickled pink to find $2.00 in phone charges incurred during the search for an emergency room.

Off we go. We head down 95, get off in Portland for the hell of it, and have brunch at the Governor's Room. Great place, $12.50 for coffee and generous breakfast for two.

Now, my mother is always telling people "I know my way around __fill-in-the-blank__." She never does. She also insists you aren't lost if you eventually, after, say, 12 hours, find your way back to something remotely familiar. I belong to the "if I don't know where the hell I am for more than 20 minutes, I am LOST" school of geographical philosophy.

So we become lost as we exit Portland and take a very inaccurately labeled exit, promising Kittery in the near future, and delivering a long route to New Hampshire's dazzling fireworks-and-adult-video metropolis, Portsmouth. After visiting several uninteresting stretches of road, we find our way back to route 1, (which I have begun to loathe with a passion you can't begin to imagine). Many cursings and missed turns later we make our way back to 95 south.

We made it home.

Review:
THREE DAYS IN MAINE with free concrete-beating: $210 (to Super 8)
GOOD, FAIR-PRICED FOOD (ON PAINKILLER BUZZ for mum): $125.00
GAS FOR CRAPPY FORD EXPLORER: $105.00
GETTING HOME in 1 piece: PRICELESS

Massachusetts never looked so good.

10 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Michelle Arroyo said...

Love the priceless montage. Oh you two poor things. I think under the circumstances, your hotel bill should have been free, not even to mention the er bill.

Morag said...

That scum sucking bastard at the Super 8 needs to sued! Super 8, of course, too. Maybe it will open their eyes, give their employees the needed training and bring the building up to code.
Also, SSB should have called 911 for an ambulance IMMEDIATELY!

Morag

Toni Sue said...

My advice...take it or leave it...send those pics that you took (copies, of course) to a super 8 big wig and you will get results. The very least that needs to happen is that idiot that checked you in gets FIRED. 911 should have been called and all expenses paid by Super (not so super) 8. I'm so sorry Shanda. I know how much you needed some unwinding. Hope you can do that in the next few days. Keep me posted on how you are feeling next week. Kiss-kiss :)

JENNA said...

Just want you need. More to do with the lawsuit this invites. Joy, oh joy.

I'm never staying at a Super 8 again. If this is how they train their staff to react in a crisis? Plus, THAT is their handicap access? Is that even legal?

Diana Castilleja said...

{{HUGS}} Chrissy. I know you had serious doubts on all fronts about this trip. There is no excuse of the treatment you got at the hotel either.

It is in violation from your description. Everything is to be marked, and accessible without any obstacles. All pathways are to be leveled and cared for and within distance (Not a football field) to the room. I can't vouch for employee responsibility since so many chains are now owned by out of country entities, but that is definitely lax, and I'm sure the uttered word "lawsuit" could get a lot of reaction.

I don't remember the agency off the top of my head, but there are several who monitor these types of complaints, because many of the smaller chains ignore them. But it doesn't absolve them from following the rules. (I was a travel agent in a former life and had to know all this stuff :) Just wish I could remember it all now.)

Stacy Dawn said...

(((hugs)))) That just sucks. I sure hope your mom is mending well and you are feeling better.

I'd send the stuff to the head honchoes with a little letter from a lawyer! Not to even call 911 is inhumane.

Laine Morgan said...

Holy Moly! You did have a nightmare. I hope your mom is better soon, and hope your recourse against that hotel is effective in getting them to remedy their violations! And I hope you get a vacation from your vacation. :)

Heather said...

Omigosh, I hope your mom is doing okay. I agree with everyone else, that clerk should have called 911 - or at the very least pointed you in the direction of the ER. Send copies of those pictures to Super 8 and research area newspapers to send your story to, just in case you don't results from the bigwigs.

Sorry your trip wasn't everything you hoped it would be! (((hugs)))

Jenn on the Island said...

OMG!
After a trip like that getting home sure is priceless.
Hope your mom feels better soon.
Jenn

Bebe Thomas said...

Sending some healing energy your mom's way. And never staying at a Super 8 - ever.

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