Friday, May 1, 2020
The woman in front of me checking into Motel 6 carried plastic bags from the nearby Marathon gas station for baggage. The manager, Don, told her politely that she couldn't have anyone else in her room. No one. Not for a visit, or quick meeting, or certainly not a party. If he found anyone in her room, she'd be kicked out immediately and lose any money on the room. She said the only people who would come by were there to pick her up. "Then you make them pick you up out front on the road," Don the manager said. She told him that she couldn't stay in her home because someone was threatening suicide all the time. Don didn't respond. Her son had already paid for the room so she picked up her plastic bags and said Don would have no trouble out of her. "Have a blessed day," she said. Don said, "You, too." As he checked me in for three nights, Don said over his shoulder, "Did you hear the speech I gave her?" OK, he said, turning to me and starting it over. I understand how I look right now. I have scraggy beard -- I call it my COVID beard because I stopped shaving when we closed the office -- and when not working I wear simple T-shirts where the only pattern is a series of food stains. Were I to boil it, the T-shirt could make a decent broth. I told Don I wouldn't be problem. How many times had he heard this? I told him I had just been laid off and had to move out of the office apartment, showing my card. "Rich Jackson, executive editor, Herald-Times." He didn't respond. I had left work at almost exactly 3 p.m. and it was now 3:30 p.m. I went from someone to no one in 30 minutes. I expect Guinness Book of World Records to call any minute. He finished the speech and I checked into the room. It smelled clean, and looked it. No mini fridge, no microwave. Hell, no Kleenex -- or even the sandpaper version you find in most hotels. That's fine. For forty-six bucks a night, I just need clean. Time to stop and flop and catch my breath. If there's blame to pass around, I'll take all of it. I had been working pretty much everyday since arriving at the Herald-Times 11 months ago with the exception of a week off at Thanksgiving to go see my kid. When COVID-19 covered the land like a deadly blizzard, I worked almost every minute of the day. I took little time to take care of myself and no time to look for an apartment, where I could unpack my goods in storage -- mostly books and cooking equipment. Plus, I love being a newspaper editor. A friend asked me recently what would be next. I said the three loves of my life are my kid, my mom and being a newspaper editor. There were a few times where it seemed like work but for most of the days it was like breathing. I have a little money saved up and the company is paying some severance and all my unused vacation and personal time for the year. The latter is real money for me as I've always kind of scraped by. So I've asked my social media friends for help, maybe a room, a bed. I'm a decent cook and better raconteur. On the downside, my snore sounds like someone trying to suck an obese cat through a Dyson V10 vacuum cleaner. So while not in distress, I am dispossessed. I am homeless.
Posted by _____ at 4:04 PM