Chain Hotels: tasteful, but no local flavor

I came, I worked, and got paid

I left as twilight did fade

I did well to cheat

My exposure to heat

And in a nice hotel I stayed.

Synopsis: I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa. In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, and honoring a 1 year non-compete clause, travelled and worked in out-of-the-way places in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand. After three years working with a Community Health Center, I went back to adventures in temporary positions until they have an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system I can get along with. A winter in Nome, Alaska, assignments in rural Iowa, a summer with a bike tour in Michigan, and Urgent Care in suburban Pennsylvania stretched into the fall. Last winter I worked western Nebraska and coastal Alaska. Getting my wife’s (benign) brain tumor treated took a large part of the summer. I worked a week in urban Alaska before heading to Pennsylvania to our married daughters and our grandson.  Any identifiable patient information has been included with permission. 


I stayed in a very nice hotel in Alaska, with a hot breakfast every day and tasteful décor.  I walked to the clinic in the mornings, lunched in the Doctors’ Lounge, walked back in the evenings, and watched first-run movies on the TV.  After a week, I checked out of the hotel, and met up with a longtime friend in Anchorage.  We spent a morning scouting for moose.  About sunset, I headed back to the airport where you can spot the fisherman by the coolers and the cylindrical fishing rod cases. With day faded into the subarctic’s midnight twilight, I boarded the jet and sleep poorly all the way to Chicago O’Hare.

I left Alaska under clear skies with ideal temperature and deplaned in Chicago in stifling humidity and heat. My flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh got cancelled, due to “air traffic congestion.”

I had never heard of such a thing.

I approached the ticket agent with cheery patience. Actually, I was determined to be so sweet she’d get diabetes from talking to me.  While she tapped furiously at her keyboard, I said, “Look, it’s rare in my life that this happens, but today I’m just about as flexible as can be, and these folks behind me, they just want to get onto the plane.  So go ahead and take care of them, and after they take off, you can see if you can help me.”

Jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, I slouched into a deliberately uncomfortable chair and snoozed. When the crowd cleared out I approached the podium.  The agent booked me to Pittsburgh the next day with a flight through Charlotte, NC.

I very politely asked for a hotel voucher. She looked at me for a moment, and then said that she almost never gets anyone nearly so calm as me and she would see what she could do.  I watched her take her case to her boss at the next gate, and she came back with a voucher.

I stepped outside the air conditioned airport into the heat and waited for the shuttle. I went directly into the cool of the hotel and checked in.  The clerk, finding I had no food voucher, comped me a bag of snack mix from the in-house mart.

I haven’t always gone out of my way to avoid the heat. In the summer of 1972 a college buddy and I rode our bicycles from Connecticut to Denver.  One hundred-mile day in Ohio we each drank 3 gallons of fluids and urinated not a drop.  By the end of the trip, entry into normal climate-controlled businesses felt uncomfortably cold.  Till two summers ago I wouldn’t use the car AC in town.  As time has gone on, though, I find the cold easier to tolerate than the heat.

The next day I flew into Pittsburgh. My oldest daughter picked me up.  I didn’t discourage use of the Honda’s air conditioner.

I checked into a hotel of the same chain I had in Alaska. It had the same hot breakfast and tasteful décor.  Nice, but no local flavor.




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