When Mrs. Pincus booked this trip, she arranged for an overnight stay and a shuttle to the cruise terminal through an online service called "Park Sleep Fly." (Wasn't there a serial killer with that nickname?) We packed our luggage and headed south on I-95 towards the Best Western BWI Airport Inn & Suites. For around a hundred bucks, they offered a room for overnight, parking for our car for the week we'd be away and shuttle service to the pier — plus a complimentary breakfast in the morning. Sounds good? Yeah..... we'll see.
We followed the directions as the indispensable Waze app guided us to our destination. Exiting I-895, Mrs. P navigated through what can only be described as a seedy-looking neighborhood, eventually arriving at our accommodations situated in a small courtyard at the end of Belle Grove Road, just past two auto body salvage yards.
The elevator arrived. We entered. The door closed. The inside of the doors were decorated with large, full-color graphics of the Baltimore Orioles — which were defaced with angry, jagged gouges obscuring the smiling visage of the familiar Oriole logo. The doors opened at the seventh floor and we followed the directional wall signs to our room. A pile of trash — two greasy pizza boxes, several Coke cans and some unidentifiable crumbled paper — was on the floor next to the small utility room that housed two vending machines and a commercial ice maker. The pile remained for our entire stay.
We found our room and Mrs. P swiped the plastic key card in the lock. A little green light above the knob flashed. I opened the door. The first thing I noticed was a black backpack sitting on the floor under the lone window. The lights were out. The beds were made. The room appeared clean and unoccupied... except for the backpack. Again, Mrs. Pincus and I exchanged bewildered glances. I slowly approached the backpack and gave it a gentle nudge with my foot. Mrs. Pincus exclaimed in horror, "What are you doing?"
"I'm checking to see if something is in it.," I replied, although I was quickly cut off by a stern "Don't touch it!" from my wife.
We decided that the removal of the backpack was the responsibility of a hotel employee. Still with our luggage in tow, we retraced our steps to the elevator (passing the trash pile along the way). Back at the front desk, we encountered a new member of the hotel staff. This woman was dress in a more professional manner and wore a name tag that identified her as the manager. The blond who greeted us earlier was nowhere in sight. Mrs. P told the manager of the strange backpack in our room. The manager listened and immediately asked if we'd like a different room.
"No," Mrs. P answered, "We just want someone to remove the backpack."
A fellow from the maintenance staff was summoned and he accompanied us to our room. Once inside, he fearlessly approached and grabbed the backpack. "Anything else?," he asked with a smile and without waiting for an answer, he grabbed the remote control for the television off the desk. "Let me make sure your TV works.," he said, and mashed a few buttons on the device until the screen lit up. We thanked him as he exited our room.
As night fell, Mrs. P and I ran through our dinner options using Google for nearby restaurants. Across the street was a Checkers, whose neon sign inexplicably flashed "Gheckers" from a side window. Next to that was a Dunkin Donuts. We ruled out both of theses choices, settling instead on hoagies from a nearby Wawa, the beloved Philadelphia convenience chain that has expanded down the east coast. I got directions to the closest Wawa. As we walked to our car, I spotted two young ladies exiting our hotel from the rear of the building. They were prancing towards a car parked in the corner of the parking lot. Both were dressed like stereotypical prostitutes you'd see in any episode of any police show on television in the 70s— short, tight skirts, sparkly tops, fishnet stockings and impossibly tall platform shoes. Glances were exchanged for a third time.
|No microwaves for you.|
|Not included in this story.|
|At the mercy of a bungee.|
The shuttle lumbered into the parking lot of the