I asked the secretary to book me a motel room at government Per Diem rates if possible. This was a nearly impossible task in the region of New Jersey where I was visiting a government contractor. She was able to accomplish this task — in fact, she got me a room with a view.
A very unusual view.
It was in the 1970’s and I flew from San Diego, California, where the Naval Ocean Systems Center was located, to the Newark Airport in New Jersey, and picked up my rental car. Asking for directions at the rental counter, they pointed me to the Meadowlands Sports Complex and said the motel was nearby.
I found the Meadowlands Sports Complex and the motel seemed to be at the edge of the parking lot to the Giants Stadium. I asked at the entrance kiosk if I needed to pay to get to the motel. The attendant said no and gave me instructions for reaching it on a perimeter road.
The parking spots in front of all the rooms were deserted, but there was a car by the side of the office and I entered the office, telling the clerk that I had reservations. Giving me a strange look, he called to the back saying some guy claimed that he had reservations. The answer came from the back office with a chuckle that some woman had called last week asking for a reservation and to give me the room.
Checking into the room I picked up the phone to call my wife with the government authorized safe-arrival-telephone-call. The phone was dead so I headed back to the front office get it connected. On the way out I noticed a film projector on the nightstand pointed at the ceiling. The ceiling was painted a smooth white that made a perfect projection screen. In the office, I noticed a selection of pornographic films on a shelf. Asked if I wanted to rent any, I found out I could rent a double feature for about the same price I was paying for the motel room. I declined and changed my four-day reservation to just the one night.
When I left the next morning, the motel seemed more than half full. A couple of cars were in front of rooms, but mostly 18-wheel trucks parked in a large lot behind the motel. I also noticed a break in the fence that allowed easy access to and from the stadium parking lot.
Later I found out from locals that the motel did a thriving business during sporting events at the Giant’s Stadium. Wives thought their husbands were attending a sporting event, while the husbands were holding their own sporting event with their mistresses in the motel rooms.
This was my first, but not last room with a view this trip.
I attended contractor meetings that day and then went looking for another motel.
This proved more difficult than I thought. Every room in every reasonably priced chain motel/hotel was book solid — all at much more than the government Per Diem rate.
Finally, on being turned away at the sixth hotel I tried, I pleaded with the desk clerk for anything they had, even a cot in a utility closet. Someone in the back office overheard me and came out to the front desk. He said he could let me have a room, but it had no television. I said that was no problem and I booked it for three nights.
The room had a rather cloying pink decor and a four-poster king-size bed in the center of the room with a scattering of heart shape pillows. It wasn’t until I went to bed that I noticed I had another room with a view. A mirror, the size of the bed, was supported by the four-poster canopy, The bed was lit by spot lights which provided an interesting view in the overhead mirror.
For two more nights I did without television, but I did have a room with a view.