The motels that line US highways and byways have undergone a renaissance of sorts in the last few years. Once travelers took their chances with their choice of an over-night stay. Would the bed be comfortable, the shower good, the air conditioner in good working order?
No longer. The road-side inns of America have been McDonalized. One is as the other, as the other — as the other.
Tom Bodett, the only spokesman Motel 6 ever had, started it.
In an early commercial for the motel chain, he ad libbed, “We’ll leave the light on for you.” And all of a sudden inn-keepers began looking at customers as friends of the family rather than the meal tickets they are.
Probably someone found a close out sale on pillow top mattresses and that got the ball rolling. Now all of the beds are high and soft and the sheets and comforters are folded in mysterious ways that are really tough to replicate.
Hair dryers, irons and luggage racks are standard. All have room darkening curtains covered by see-through panels framed by useless drapes. There is a big screen tv, a directory of houses of worship and a completely neutral listing of nearby restaurants. The shower rods bow out beyond the front of the tub and the shower curtain has a clear horizontal panel at eye level.
I love these places! But it’s a good thing that Hitchcock made Psycho in 1960. The shower scene at the Bates motel just wouldn’t have been the same if Janet Leigh had been able to see Perkins through her clear plastic eye level panel. “Get out, creep face! This isn’t your room!” Fade to darkness.