630 miles and his legs were cramping, his back was getting scoliosis, and his hypnotized eyes were following the dashed lines on the highway into dreamland. But even worse, the bran flakes he had for breakfast were sending musical telegrams through the borborygmus of his bowels. He felt the urge to find a room.
Elroy cranked the steering wheel into the first hotel he found.
Lockdowns and social distancing rules had recently ended, and cabin fever tourists like himself crammed the lobby. He had to wait a long time for his turn at the front desk, while tightening his butt cheeks. “Room for one, just for the night,” he blurted out to the petite young blonde behind the counter.
“Certainly, sir,” she typed something into the keyboard, then looked up from the monitor. “Will that be shitting or non-shitting?”
He was caught a bit off guard by that question, and just stood there staring blankly for a moment. “Excuse me?” he eventually queried.
“Shitting or non-shitting, sir?” the blonde smiled, all business-like, with fingers on her keyboard, poised for a reply.
“Uh, I don’t understand. What do you mean?”
“Well sir, if you choose non-shitting, then you’ll only be able to go #1 in your toilet, and not #2. If you do do a #2, you’ll be charged a $200 room freshening fee.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing before,” Elroy mused, feeling a little flushed with irritation. “But I’ve got to go, so of course I’ll choose shitting.”
“Very good, sir,” the pretty clerk cheerfully offered. “Now let’s see . . .” clackety-clack went her fingers, seemingly forever, as she gazed into the monitor, “ . . . looks like we have one shitting room left. That will be 50 extra dollars, for a total of $140, plus $53.75 in taxes and resort fees. So I’ll charge your card $193.75 for the night.”
This was well above Elroy’s budget. “Look,” Elroy remonstrated, “I’m not even going to get into it with you over the resort fee thing. Been there, done that, with other hotels. It ain’t right, but I know I can’t fight it. But this shitting room charge, this is ridiculous!” his voice rising with every syllable. “Who ever heard of charging someone $50 to take a shit?!!” Now he was kind of shouting. And he shook his fist in the air.
The smile on the pretty blonde’s face evaporated, as her lips pursed in fear. She took a step backward. “Sir . . . sir . . . I’m sorry but I don’t set the rates here,” her voice trembled. “Would . . . would you like . . . like to spe-speak with my supe-supervisor?”
Elroy hated to scare people, and immediately felt horribly ashamed at his outburst. But by-goddamnit, this shitting charge was an outrage! Still, it wasn’t her fault. She was just an employee following her training. He forcibly collected himself. He took inventory of his bowels. And he got an idea. He had noticed a supermarket about a block away, as he was driving to the hotel.
He lowered his voice and tried to reassure her. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” he spoke with soothing tones. “It’s not your fault. Tell you what. I just now felt it go back up inside me, so I don’t think I’ll need a shitting room. I’ll take a non-shitter.”
And for a savings of $50, Elroy got himself a room. The first thing he did after he stepped inside, was rush into the bathroom, drop his trousers, and cut about five large loaves into the pellucid waters of the porcelain throne.
Fuck their shitting and non-shitting rooms, Elroy smugly concluded as he gasped with relief. Anyway, how would they know?
By the stink-ass smell, of course. But Elroy had a plan for that. As soon as he finished his business, he planned to walk down to that supermarket and buy a can of air freshener. Then he was going to spray the hell out of the bathroom. And God knows, it needed it. He crinkled his nose.
He stood up, flushed the toilet, and hitched up his pants. But suddenly, as the last gurgling gasps of the plumbing faded away, an alarm went off over his head.
Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!
It scared the crap out of him. Figuratively, of course, as his cannon had already spent its ammo. He looked up and spied a round device on the ceiling that resembled a smoke detector. He immediately sprang up onto the edge of the tub, in an attempt to reach this tattletale alarm and silence it.
But then came a thundunkerous pounding on his door.
He swung the door open and came face-to-face with the petite, blonde clerk. How the hell was this frail-looking thing able to knock so hard? he wondered.
“Sir, the stink alarm has gone off in your room,” she sternly advised him. “Did you take a shit in there?” Then the effluvium hit her and she twisted her face. “Eww, you did, didn’t you?”
“Please, I was desperate,” he begged. “I’m going to clean it up with air-freshener. I promise!”
But none of poor Elroy’s begging and pleading could sway her. Rules are rules and policies are policies. She was sympathetic but firm. His card would be charged an extra $200.
Learn a lesson from Elroy. Never choose a hotel in a hurry. Take time to check out all their fees and rules before you walk in their door. On top of exorbitant taxes, you may find a nebulous resort fee, an outrageous parking fee, wi-fi fees, early check-in fees, early departure fees, late-arrival lockouts, cancellation fees, minibar charges, extra person fees, fridge fees, linen fees, and yes, even toilet paper fees.
You could even be charged for writing a bad Yelp review.
Elroy’s story is fictional. So far, I’ve never heard of shitting and non-shitting rooms. But I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that is next. And if it should happen to you, my advise is to lay off bran flakes, and all other forms of roughage, for a few days before your trip. You can always have an enema after you return home.
This tip alone could save you hundreds of dollars.