E3 2013 Journal – Day 1 or, “How to Stay in the Worst Hotel in L.A.”

OK, technically I didn’t stay at the worst hotel; I only reserved it. I suspect if I had stayed there, I wouldn’t be alive today and writing this. Still, it was a near miss.

I’d like to start by saying thank you to the owners of America’s Best Value Inn – without you, the first day at E3 would have been totally uneventful.

I got to the ABVI around 10:30 in the morning and the guy behind the desk gave me attitude for being too early. “We rented your room last night” he said, and told me to come back at 3 or 4. (That news got to me a little. Of course I realize that every time I’ve stayed in a hotel, other people have always spent the night in my room right before I take it, but that’s something I try not to think about.)

No room meant hours to kill so I just went along to the convention center. Business done by 6:30, I headed back to the hotel totally wiped out. A different guy stood behind the counter and I noticed a stash of canned cokes and junk food behind him. “What’s that for?” I asked.

I’m sure you’re all way ahead of me and yup, that was their version of a vending machine. It’s a classy place that doesn’t even have a vending machine, and it’s an even classier place that hands you your TV remote controls along with your room key. I suppose their usual clientele is prone to stealing them?

Anyway, I lugged my bags up to my room, noticing the outdoor pool with the heavy layer of black silt at the bottom of it, and tried my card keys in the door. They didn’t work. I lugged my bags back down to the desk and the guy came back up with me and the keys still didn’t work. His solution? He let me in with his master key and told me I couldn’t leave the rest of the evening. I should have run away right there, but sleepiness prevailed over good sense.

I went in the room and oh….my….god. I haven’t seen a room that bad since a 1999 road trip when I got stuck in a sleazy motel in Indianapolis during the Indy 500. The Indy room had baby roaches, black mold and a murder-sized blood stain on the mattress. The room at the America’s Best Value gave it a run for its money though, starting with the broken/missing dead bolt and the masking tape slapped over the peep hole.

Nothing to see here folks, nothing to see here.

Next, the greeby drapes falling off the bent curtain rod.

The 50 year old bedside table…

Like gold these remotes are.

The ancient TV stand, with the bodily-emissions slathered all over it…

Most people use Endust, not spooge.

The desk with the same interesting patina…

Cozy.

The bathroom with one feeble, naked bulb illuminating a cabinet missing both its door pulls. Not that I wanted to open it. It probably hid the entrance to Hell.

I don't want to know.

With the sun setting and a rising sense of panic, I sat on the bed and tried the wifi with half a thought toward finding another hotel. It didn’t work. I tried my cell phone – no signal. I picked up the room phone, intending to call Hotels.com to find a room somewhere else and the weirdo at the front desk answered. He told me that while I could receive calls IN, I could not make calls OUT. AAAGHHHHHH!!!!

I swear, it was like a friggin’ horror movie.

After the phone revelation, I more or less sprinted out of there. I headed out in the ever-growing downtown L.A. darkness, hoping somehow to find another less-potentially-lethal place to stay. (Incidentally, I did find another slightly better place for the night. The room was filled with residual smoke and I had to open the window wide (4th floor) and leave the AC on full blast in order to breathe, but hey, it had a working phone and a dead bolt.)

Lesson learned. Make reservations for E3 eleven months in advance or plan on sleeping at the bus station.

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