Tuesday, September 22, 2009

itchy itchy scratchy scratchy

Last week I went to Toronto. Not because I had any strong urge to visit Toronto. At least, not for just one night, only to turn around and fly back home again the next day. It wasn't what you might call a vacation.

The trip was for my bioscan appointment with Worldbridge, the people who handle the UK immigration stuff here in Canada. I got a digital photo taken (which I didn't even ask to see, because I have seen my passport photo, and have decided it's just better not to know how I am going to be immortalized on my Visa.) Got my hand scans done. Gave them all my documentation. Yes, that three inches of accumulated paper that took us months to get together. It got some raised eyebrows I have to say. Turns out most people don't supply them with half a forest worth of paper. But they asked for proof of relationship. And boy did we give it to them. In short form, even. If we'd given them all of the proof of contact we had, it would have required clear-cutting about a thousand acres of old growth forest.

I was politely informed it could take up to three months for my application to be processed.

I'm sorry...WHAT? Three months. Seriously?

Apparently so. Which kind of makes completely useless all of my lovely plans to travel on the sixth of November. Or even the assumption that I will be with My Guy before Christmas. Trying very hard not to think of that right now. Although, I may get to visit the pleasant man with the John Denver wig at the airport again when I am forced to change my flight. That'll be nice.

It all went terribly smoothly and blah, blah blah. Nothing much exciting about the whole thing. The plane trip both ways was smooth as glass, no turbulence. Mom and I made it through the flight with no motion sickness, not a batted eyelash from either of us. And then we both managed to almost pass out on the elevator ride up to the 25th floor of the Eaton Centre for my appointment. And no, I don't understand that any more than you do.

Most of our time in the big city was spent walking Yonge street. Mostly because it is very hard to get at all lost if you stick to one street. And there was a whole lot to see on Yonge Street and it's immediate cross streets. We poked our way through a lot of interesting little shops, until I got so tired I lost interest in exploring even such wonders as the Roots store. So we made our way back to the hotel by way of the biggest bookstore I have ever seen, to spend our remaining hours in T.O. curled up on couches in the hotel lobby.

Ahhhh, yes. The hotel. That little gem our travel agent found for us, only blocks away from the Eaton Centre and what passes for affordable in downtown Toronto at only $179 a night for a one bed room.

We should have known, eh?

Now, as far as first impressions go, it made a fairly good one. The lobby was impressive, with shiny floors and comfy couches and uniformed bellmen waiting to take your baggage to your room. It was a bit confusing with several different desk areas and no really clear signs telling you where to go. But once we actually found the place to check in, things seemed nicely on their way to a pleasant stay.

I opened the door to the room and immediately decided it was a very good thing I am not claustrophobic. It was tiny, with just enough room for the bed, wardrobe, desk, and two chairs that took up every available inch of wall space and then some. Mom and I were sharing a bed, our budget being somewhat minimal for this little excursion and Toronto being not so friendly to the frugal. The bed was not huge, but was the central feature of the room, with just enough space to walk around it.

Now, my mother is....hmmm. A bit OCD when it comes to cleanliness. And not one to bite her tongue when it comes to critical comments. I'm not saying she didn't mention the dubious hygiene of the coffee maker, which looked like it had been wiped down with a smeared dust cloth at best, and had likely never been actually washed. Or that she didn't wrinkle her nose at the state of the bathtub and sink, both of which I am pretty sure were hastily swiped with the same cloth that had left those charming streaks all over the not-so-shiny metal coffee pot. Or that she didn't point out that there was no possible doubt that the splotchy green bedspread had been used and abused by (possibly centuries worth of) guests before us without the benefit of a trip to the washing machine. Or that we didn't both cringe just a bit at the filthy carpet, which looked like it had never seen the business end of a vacuum cleaner and had mysterious staining throughout, including under the bed.

But here's where I was left with my mouth hanging open. She just decided not to use the coffee pot, and to buy coffee in the cafeteria-style restaurant in the morning instead. She volunteered to take a long hot shower before I ran my bath for the night so that it would be clean enough for me to actually lie in for a soak. She folded the bedspread back so that it still covered our legs to keep us warm, but didn't actually touch any part of our skin. She decided to keep her socks on to avoid touching the carpet.

Are you all standing there with your mouths agape like I was? You should be.

I was so thrilled with my mom's attitude. She had obviously decided to make the best of our little jaunt to the big city, and I was proud of her for it. I found myself biting my tongue to not complain as much as the room deserved. And there were plenty of things to gripe about, even beyond the cleanliness issue.

Like the fact that the door to the bathroom was impossible to actually close. The door had swollen up in size and no longer fit into the doorjamb. It was obviously working out at night, getting itself beefed up to impress the fancy door to the hall, with it's sexy green light and alluring keycard slot. I suspect steroids.

It was also impossible to plug the tub for a bath. It had a metal plug with one of those levers you turn to move the plug up and down. Between the combined efforts of the two of us we managed to budge that thing about a quarter inch from where it started. Which means I alternated between having my heel smashed down on the plug to keep it closed while trying to soak in a hot bath with my book, and actually lying comfortably while listening to water rush down the drain and constantly turning the tap back on to refill. Relaxing.

After my bath, which used up enough water to drain half of Lake Erie, I tried to settle in to watch a movie with my mother. I prepared to get comfy in bed, sitting down on the edge of it ... only to have it go scooting out from under me! I got up, looked at it with my head tilted, and tried again. Only to have it slide away once again. Good thing that room was tiny and the bed didn't have very far it could go, or I might have been seriously injured in its attempt to escape. Obviously not a bed that was going to graciously allow us to nestle in it's rock hard comforts for the night without first putting up a fight. I did have a eureka moment, though, in the midst of wrangling the bed back into position. I suddenly understood all the mysterious stains and footprints under the bed. They were no doubt scuffs and drag marks made by other guests digging their heels in when the bed went shooting across the room in yet another bid for freedom. Obviously this mattress had not been properly slaughtered and dried before being shipped off for luxury hotel use. It was desperately trying to gallumph it's way back to the swamps of Squornshellous Zeta. And who can blame it, really?

All in all, mom and I weren't exactly sad to leave our little hotel room the next morning. I was achy and tired and feeling slightly dirtier than when I'd arrived. And psychosomatically itchy.

Or so I thought.

Until I went to the doctor yesterday and casually mentioned the red splodge on my belly that had been there since the day we left the hotel. It is irritating, and growing slowly, day by day. I jokingly told my mom that I had probably caught a fungus from that green bedspread and would be slowly consumed by it. Ha haha ha, funny right?

Only....not so much.

Because the first thing the doctor asked me was if it was possible that I had been exposed to bed bugs.

Oh, yeah. It's possible. Definitely possible.

Almost inevitable, really.

Score one for the wily mattress. I knew that thing was out to get me.


And how about you people? What's the worst experience you've had in a motel, hotel or guestroom?

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