Reflections On A California Trip

I, along with other family members, flew to Los Angeles last year to attend a cousin’s wedding. The weather was perfect for the nuptials which were held in a garden filled with fragrant flowers and lush foliage. We Midwesterners agreed that California weather was ideal and, for the time being, forgot that other things about the West Coast were not.

It was a typical Jewish wedding, the reading of the Ketubah, and the groom stomping on the glass at the conclusion of the ceremony followed by shouts of Mazel Tov. At the reception, the love-smitten couple were held high on chairs as friends and families danced beneath them. Most age advantaged folks and I watched the dancers rather than joining them. Our fear of falling on the uneven grass undoubtedly entered into that decision. Even so, it was delightful.

Even though the weather, the family and occasion were all wonderful a few things happened that made us happy to live in Dayton. Anyone who’s been to California knows about the congested traffic on their Freeways. People don’t talk about how many miles it takes to go from one place to another, because that depends upon the time of day. Someone might tell you it takes 40 minutes. At other times, such as at rush hour, 2 hours is more like it. And that’s to go 20 or 30 miles. Regardless of the time of day, we witnessed bumper to bumper traffic as well as drivers who jockeyed from one lane to another thinking they were making progress. It was really more than I could bear, and I avoided much of it by closing my eyes.

But perhaps the most bizarre thing happened upon our arrival at the hotel. The lobby was not fancy but looked decent. The price seemed right, too. After checking in, my aunt and I went to our room while other family members headed to rooms nearby. As we walked through the door, our noses were immediately assailed by a heavy, musty odor that permeated everything. When we opened the drapes in hopes of airing out the room, we discovered there were no screens. As we tried to get around the furniture without bumping into one another, we commented that the room was really too small for 2 double beds, a dresser and us.

Then I checked out the bathroom as I usually do in a new place and discovered that it too, was tiny. Worse, however, were the running toilet and dripping faucet all of which made me determined to go to the front desk and demand another, more suitable room. My family members who had experienced similar situations readily agreed that conditions were unacceptable.

As we exited our rooms, we were astonished to see that, walking nonchalantly down the hall were two pigeons. I think at that point I screamed, though I don’t exactly remember. “That does it, folks. We’re getting out of here.” I shouted as I descended the stairs, family following. We rushed to the front desk and demanded to see the manager. I was so upset that I practically jumped over the counter as I complained about the lack of screens, the dripping water, the musty smell and, most disgusting, the birds. I am sure he was a bit frightened by my demeanor, because he apologized profusely and immediately agreed to take our credit card numbers out of the computer. Either I intimidated him, or he was used to people who complained about sharing space with pigeons.

Luckily, the story had a happy ending which made us see California in a better light. We were able to find wonderful accommodations that included a suite of sizeable, new rooms, complimentary breakfast and was less expensive. And happily, the only pigeons in sight were those we spotted out the window.

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