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Friday, October 29, 2010

Inexpensive accomodations at the Dallas Downtown YMCA...

Well I'm now back on the boat after a good four days of loitering at my friend's house on Marco Island... or "the rock" as she would often refer to it... and it goes without saying once again that her swimming pool was just as inviting this time around as it was on the previous occasions that I had visited.

Though my boat may feel confining at times, it is nevertheless my own personal space where I can sprawl out and not feel that I may perhaps be imposing in anyway. Besides, there is the little matter of adhering to the second tenant of booty-call protocol as explained in a previous blog entry.

In any event a narrative of the happenings of my four days of loitering on Marco Island will simply have to wait for a later date... if only because I wish to conclude my narrative of events in my prior blog entry that last found me seated alongside an empty revolving baggage carousel at DFW airport some three decades ago.

While apprehensively staring at that empty baggage carousel go around in circles, I kept wondering where I might stay that evening. It was now early evening around eight pm or so and I had already made a number of phone calls to inquire about lodgings for the evening without any success.

I had made use of a telephone receiver mounted alongside a huge visual display of a map outlining the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. All one had to do was note the number on the map corresponding to the hotel one wished to call and simply press a button for direct dial.

Incidentally, direct-dial telephones were a novelty for me at the time. I had never seen one before. The only phones I had ever previously come across were black, rotary-dial telephones with an occasional dial-tone from back in the day when I lived in Puerto Rico.

But I digress... One number after another had been called and each time I had gasped upon the front desk clerk informing me of their hotel room rates. In my pocket were some two-thousand dollars in American Express cashiers checks which most assuredly would have vaporized in a matter of days if I were to stay at one of those fancy hotels.

You see... I was literally off the boat after having grown up in Puerto Rico and totally clueless about affordable lodgings such as Motel 6 and the like and so there I sat staring at that revolving empty baggage carousel when a song performed by the Village People happened to suddenly pop into my head.

YMCA...ymca.... YMCA....

I spring up out of my chair... find a pay phone along with the ubiquitous yellow pages... make note of the various YMCA phone numbers and call to inquire about whether they have any rooms available for the night and of their room rates.

I'm in luck... the Downtown Dallas YMCA has one room left but I'd better hurry to claim it. I plead my case and explain my situation and assure the desk clerk that I'll be there before midnight to check in and to please hold the room for me. The desk clerk is a real sweetie and assures me that she will.

I collect my bags and head for the terminal curbside area to hale a cab when once again I'm in luck. A Trailways bus is soon scheduled to depart for the thirty mile trip to downtown Dallas.

I board that bus after loading my bags into the baggage compartment and upon the bus driver giving me instructions to sit in the back and to keep my eyes glued to his rearview mirror. I am to wait for his signal when we reach my stop.

That African-American bus driver has the demeanor and physique of a no-nonsense drill sergeant so I readily comply with all of his instructions. The bus later makes a number of stops in downtown Dallas after the long drive from the airport.

Well groomed and coiffured passengers can later be seen stepping off the bus at the various luxury hotels with hotel bellmen eagerly awaiting curbside to collect their bags. These hotels were undoubtedly the same ones that I had called earlier that evening to inquire about their room rates.

The last stop is at the Fairmont Hotel. It has a worn look about it in comparison to the other hotels. Sure enough, upon stopping and upon the remaining passengers disembarking, the bus driver peers up into his mirror and we make eye contact. A quick nod of his head tells me that I'm at my stop and it's now my turn to step off the bus.

I'm the last passenger to be attended to and I'm given concise and deliberate instructions on where to find the Downtown Dallas YMCA. I am to walk one block over and two blocks down. I am to look for an old brick building in front of the First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas.

It's late August and I was to later find out that the 104 degree Fahrenheit temperature earlier that day was to be the hottest that year in Dallas. I'm lugging two heavy bags while trekking those couple of blocks to the Y. Everything is bigger in Texas or so it seems and those street blocks each seemed to measure at least a quarter of a mile in length.

I eventually find the YMCA right where that driver said it would be. The place has a seedy look about it but I'm exhausted and only too happy to finally have a place to crash for the evening. My room is located on the fifth floor of that six story dilapidated building and so I ride on up in an equally dilapidated Otis elevator.

The elevator finally creeks its way on up to the fifth floor but not before giving me a few scares. I get off that elevator and look around one last time to check and see whether its cables are still holding it in suspension. The elevator does not crash on down to the ground floor so I continue on to find my room. I unlock the door, flip a light bulb on, toss my bags inside and lock the door securely behind me.

It's stifling hot inside that room and there is no air-conditioning, not that I ever had any while growing up in Puerto Rico. It does take some effort to finally open the window to circulate some equally hot air in from the outside. I'm in for a most uncomfortable evening to say the least.

It's past eleven pm or so and I take a cold shower, never mind that hot water was nowhere to be found in that building. I don't bother to unpack my bags and I'll worry about finding better accommodations in the morning. I am nevertheless relieved to have finally arrived in Dallas after having read that Newsweek cover story weeks earlier that I previously mentioned in a blog entry... besides, I certainly can't complain about the very modest room rate that I paid.

Hey... you get what you pay for.

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