Part With the Dollar

The power of a single dollar was demonstrated one exhausted night as the young couple drove across Texas. They had been driving for hours with only brief stops for gas, food, and restroom breaks. The hour was late. The darkness in the remote area was total. There were few indications of human activity around.

They pulled off the highway at the next exit. It wasn’t a town, simply a wide spot in the road. It had a few motels, quick restaurants, and gas stations. Not much else could be seen.

The young husband drove towards the two nearest motels. They stood on opposite sides of the road and declared their rates openly. One was a national chain, the other an independent place. The difference in the advertised prices was one dollar.

The young wife was the frugal one of the pair. She scanned the prices and quickly decided they should stay in the independent place. The young husband was not so sure, but was too tired to argue much. After all, it was only one dollar. He turned away from the well-known national chain location and pulled into the unknown’s parking lot.

The couple climbed out of their small car and checked in to the place. The flickering porch light, peeling paint, and NO REFUNDS sign at the office should have been a clue, but they decided to stay there anyway. They went back to get overnight bags and walked to their room. They used the key, turned the doorknob, and went inside.

The odor of old tobacco smoke hung in the air. There were ashtrays on the night stands. Clean, but clearly used. Neither one of them had ever smoked and the stinky film on the curtains and blankets irritated their noses and skin.

The husband forged ahead to the bathroom to take a hot shower. Rusty water trickled in a weak stream from the mostly clogged shower head. A rinse in that stuff would leave a person worse off than when they started. He decided to skip it and get some sleep.

His head hit the pillow and he was engulfed in tobacco odor, triggering a fierce coughing spasm. After a few minutes, he was able to settle down and begin resting. They both had a fitful remainder of the night and struggled to sleep. In the morning, they left quickly once they grabbed a fresh set of clothes from the car. The bags they brought into the room smelled bad.

They drove many more miles across Texas that day. The windows were opened to ventilate the car and keep their own odors flushed away. By late afternoon, they were ready to stop again. This time, the young husband insisted upon a recognized national chain – whatever the price. Sometimes it’s just worth the extra dollar. You can quote me on that.

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