Watch Where You Stay

My friends at the Silver Spring Penguin have a great recap of the complaint filed against a pair of hot-sheet motels in Silver Spring that truly seemed to be dens of iniquity. We’re talking rampant prostitution, drug overdoses and sales at a Days Inn and a Travelodge.

One commenter says they “feel bad for out-of-towners who book rooms there not knowing any better.” I can relate. It happened to me once.

I was on doing some lobbying work a decade ago for the electric bicycle industry. Yes, there was such a thing. I was trying to convince the New Jersey legislature to create a new category of vehicle — an “electric assisted bicycle.”

I was young, had no capital, and this was my first business. I needed to save every dime. So I booked what I thought would be an inexpensive chain hotel in Trenton. Well, it sure was inexpensive — but it was a Den of Iniquity. Bulletproof glass in the lobby to protect the desk clerk. Cigarette burns all over the bedspread, with a dried pizza crust sitting in the middle in case I needed a snack.

I did not even unpack. I went downstairs to get my money back, which of course did not happen and I left anyway. As I left, I saw people all around the courtyard, leaning over the railing and giving me the fisheye, like it was a prison wing.

Since then, I have learned to be careful when staying in urban environments. Trying to save a buck can backfire! Even so, that was money that, at the time, I could not afford to throw away.

How did the trip go? Well, I was shaken down for campaign contributions to a staffer who was running for city council and my proposed bill never went anywhere. (I was successful in Washington, Oregon, and California though, so there.)

One thought on “Watch Where You Stay”

  1. I worked for the US NRC in Silver Spring in the early 1980s, right next to those hotels. It was just as bad then, probably even worse. We all knew of a one local “madam” – what we knew was she was a he! Lunchtime walks were always an adventure…..

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