Tag Archives: Food

Hotel Rooms Suck

I’m currently out of town and sitting around totally bored in a hotel room. I really don’t want to write a blog post or anything but there is literally nothing else to do so why not try to be productive? After this I’ll probably try to work on some stories or something. While I don’t exactly know where this post is headed I’m going to write it anyways. This has never before been attempted on the Everything Sucks blog!

It’s already uncomfortable enough being in a city that you’ve never been in. In this case it’s Waterloo, Iowa (yay…). And it’s also discomforting knowing that the city you’re currently in which you’ve never been in before is also exactly the same as nearly every other city you’ve been in. Even though you’ve drive hundreds — even thousands of miles — across the wide open expanses of the United State of America, you always find yourself in the exact same places that you’ve already been. Our current hotel is situated less than a mile from a mall, a Target, a CVS, a handful of other hotels, a handful of gas stations, and a handful of restaurants. You already know those too: Applebees, Olive Garden, Burger King, McDonalds, Arbys, and so on.

This is America. Seriously. Zoom in on any city and its “business section” and you’ll find the same general theme of businesses. Coast to fucking coast…

My point here is that while being holed up in a hotel room is boring, you also can’t go outside and find anything else that isn’t boring. There’s no culture to explore and discover. This city is the same city I live in even if it has a different name. The streets have different names and everything is laid out differently but it’s the exact same city I’m used too: there just isn’t anything new out there and it’s not like I’m in a different country or anything. For all purposes Iowa and Illinois are exactly the same thing. No new and exciting accents, geography, or anything. Not even a new time zone.

Hotel rooms are fit nicely into this because they’re all exactly the same too. Each room of a hotel is superficially the same layout, even if one room is a mirror image of the room next to it. Each room has a shower, bed, sink, a bunch of mirrors (to make the room look bigger I’m assuming), and usually a table or a desk with a “work chair” or something like that. These rooms are cookie-cutter rooms that you’re just meant to sleep in because there isn’t much else you can do in them. Besides type bored blog posts that is.

Work in progress on “The Work Desk” feature of every hotel room.

They’re also surprisingly devoid of life as well. When you go into people’s houses or rooms they each have their own design, layout, and unique smells. People usually have their belongings/clothes/artwork/pictures/junk around that makes these places feel “lived in” and alive. Hotel rooms feel clinically clean and totally devoid of life even if they are, microbally, diverse and thriving (eww). It’s strange because the room I’m in has also been lived in by countless other people over the years and I don’t even want to think about how many babies were conceived and how many STDs were contracted on the mattress I’m laying on right now. But even knowing the amount of people and “stuff” that has actually occurred where I’m at there are no signs of anything really. It’s as clean and bland as a doctor’s waiting room. Hell, even more so as our room doesn’t have the classic “doctor’s office artwork” on the walls. A hotel room is probably the blandest living space you can find in our society.

I’m also staying at a fucking Motel 6 which is about as bottom of the barrel as you can get in terms of lodging. This is partly due to procrastinating the reservation as well as being fucking cheap. I’m notoriously cheap! A hotel room is just a place to sleep when you’re away from town and I’m not trying to stay at a place with a “fitness room” or a place that offers a “free continental breakfast” which I’m never awake in time to attend anyways. A room is a room and a bed is a bed and so be it. Anyways, Motel 6 is stupidly cheap and you can tell this from the room I’m in: this place isn’t trying to lie about its cheapness or to pamper you at all. Hell, it doesn’t even have a coffee maker which I’ve assumed was standard in all hotel rooms. This makes the room feel even more “hotely” than usual, once again pointing to the lack of stereotypical “hotel art” on the walls. These walls are bare: there is literally nothing on them besides the white and brownish-orange paint on the walls.

Next to our cheap Motel 6 is a Holiday Inn Express, and while not a 5-star place itself it is much higher up on the hotel food-chain than our Motel 6 is (Their rooms are around $90 per night while ours were around $70). In fact the building itself is higher up with its four floors overlooking our paltry two floors. Sometimes I will look out the window and see curious Holiday Inners curiously glancing out — and downwards, metaphorically and physically — into our Motel 6 rooms. And hey, I’m looking right back at them as well, a kinda passive curiosity exchanged between us. I ask in my imagination to them, “Hello, fellow traveler, what exactly are you doing in Waterloo, Iowa of all places? Are you on a business trip or are you on vacation with your family? Is this hellhole your actual destination or are you headed for more elaborate locations in the USA? Are you stopping for the night on a long journey to the West Coast or are you heading out East? Perhaps to see New York or Washington? Niagara Falls? Or maybe the Grand Canyon?” Then again maybe the man looking down on me from over there is just picking up a prostitute for the night. Who knows. I’m imaging them wondering the same thing about me as well: Who is this guy sitting in a rolly-chair with a hat on at 8 p.m.? Why is he rolling around in his hotel room in said chair? Why does he look angry? And what is he typing on his computer and why is he taking pictures of his hotel room? And why the fuck does he keep looking up at me and then typing something on his computer?

(Note: I also doubt that anyone is staying in Waterloo during a transcontinental adventure. Waterloo, IA doesn’t even have a giant interstate running through connecting anything important. 380 connectes Cedar Rapids to Waterloo but doesn’t really do much other than that. Why anyone is here is anyone’s guess.)

I’m new to staying in hotel rooms and usually only deal with them for the rare vacation and then only for a few days at most. I’m imaging the people who stay in these lifeless boxes frequently, like pilots, business travelers, musicians, etc. and I wonder what the hell they think of these places. I don’t even know what jobs require you to frequent these bland, all-the-same-but-kinda-different rooms and buildings, but it almost seems like it would be draining in a way. Like if you stay in these rooms for too long you go crazy. I’m thinking like the movie Fight Club or in the Stephen King stories 1408 or The Shining where the hotel room/hotel itself is haunted. Hotel rooms seem to have some mystery to them simply because they’ve been around for so long and have had so many people stay in them. Over time there’s bound to be something crazy happen in them. But maybe that’s the wrong outlook and that some people find these rooms comforting in a way. As all the rooms are the same I could seem them turing into “home” for the frequent traveler; a little slice of comfort and familiarity to come home to in the total blandness of them. Like if you stay in bland and drab rooms long enough you start to find them comforting in a way. Like you find yourself used to and comforted by the neutered lamp-on-desk, undecorated white walls, and wrapped up single-ply toilet papers. The white, undecorated towels. Not to mention the little shampoo bottles as well! As for me, luckily they’re only boring, even if they are intensely boring. I’m just trying to pass the time here. I’m not returning to just another hotel room on a month’s long job assignment, nor am I terrified that the room is haunted or that I’m losing my mind. Maybe boring isn’t so bad after all.

Watermelons Suck: Selecting “The Good One”

Back in the day, I used to work in the produce department at a local Sam’s Club. I stocked food and had the pleasure of dealing with dumbass customers which could be a post all on its own. It’s been awhile since I worked there so I don’t have that fresh, fiery hatred to rant about it as if I had just experienced it. One of the things I would be asked on a regular basis was, “How do you know what watermelon is good?” or “How do you pick out a good watermelon?” And, dammit, that question would piss me off more than nearly anything else ever, besides asking me for a product that they’re standing in front of. So how do you pick out a watermelon?

“How to Pick a Watermelon”

First off, I’m not a watermelon lover by any means, so me being constantly asked about how to pick out a “good watermelon” was ridiculous from the start: there are no good watermelons because they all taste like shit. It’s like asking me to pick out a good country song: there are no good country songs. The same goes for coleslaw. I also hate cantaloupes and any other sort of “melony” melons. It must be a DNA issue with me or something because I have no control over it. When customers would ask me about “the good watermelons” I’d usually tell them that I don’t even like watermelons so I didn’t know how to “pick one out” and usually suggested that they just randomly grab one. They didn’t like that advice. 

Slaw

…in case you needed to be told this.

Luckily some of the more zealous customers would tell me, matter-of-factly, how to pick out a “good watermelon.”

Some told me to look for wide stripes on them! Watermelons have dark and light green stripes on them (in case you’ve never seen one), and the ones with the wider stripes are “gooder” apparently. How the stripes determine the flavor profile of the melon I don’t know, but that’s what makes a good one. Some other people would say to look for a spot where it lay on the ground because it means the melon is ripe. Nevermind the fact that they all have a spot because melons, in fact, grow on the goddamn ground. Some people would say to look for a little stem at the end that would pull off easily, or something like that. Others would pick the damn melons up, put their ear on them, and knock on them like it was a fucking door. I tried this myself and they all sound the same and I never learned what “sound” a “good watermelon” makes as opposed to a “bad watermelon.” I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few of these “tried and true” methods for determining what makes a watermelon “good” or “bad” but whatever. I’m sure you see where I’m going with this post anyways…

Lightly researching on the internet (because everything on the internet is true), gave some even more ridiculous methods for finding a “good” watermelon. One person insisted on the melon having “straight green lines” and “the more perfect the better.” The same person also recommended that the scar where the flower falls off should be small, and that this “guarantees a perfectly sweet and rupe [sic] watermelon (;” Another person suggested that, as direct advice from a farmer (!!!), that the prospective watermelon pickers look for the location of a bee sting on the melon, given away by a tiny bit of juice oozing out husk. Once again, this all but guarantees that the watermelon is decent. And just to cap it off with some really fucked up nonsense, another person described an old wives tale about putting a broom straw on top of a melon, and if this straw spins, the watermelon is ripe. At least this person didn’t seem to take the technique too seriously, by adding “…entertaining at least.”

Does Any of That Work?

As stated, I’m not a watermelon expert, but I’m pretty damn skeptical of these methods mostly because they trigger my “sounds like bullshit” alarm. Even though a farmer (who is expected to be an expert) suggested something about bee stings, I know enough about bees, or have enough questions about bees and their habits that should undermine that theory. Do bees even eat watermelons? If they do, why would they sting the melons? How do bees know the melon is ripe? Has anyone actually compared a “bee stinged” watermelon to a non-bee melon and compared the taste profile? I doubt it. The theory seems on shaky ground, and just doesn’t seem to make plausible sense. I mean I might be wrong, but it sounds fishy from the start.

What about stripes on the melon? Once again I’m skeptical because there are natural variations in all fruits, vegetables, and meats. It’s a bad analogy, but it’s like saying people with black hair lie a lot, or that blondes are more likely to get cancer. I’m just skeptical that the damn stripes or the “greenness” of the melon really has any correlation with how yummy the melon is. Once again, I might be wrong, but shit like this should be so easily testable that it should be common knowledge by now. Get a green melon, or a “straight striped” melon, and eat away. Are they better, or not? Do some fucking science people.

Ooo, or what about the straw from the broom? Someone please tell me how the melon’s interior, by being sweet, yummy, and tasty can influence a piece of straw to rotate? Do the sugar molecules move in such a way that produces a magnetic field that somehow interacts with the tiny amount of iron in the piece of straw which causes it to rotate? Maybe it does! Or maybe that theory is just some silly bullshit that someone made up?

At the very least, given these ideas might actually work in selecting a melon, no one is this picky when shopping for other fruits, vegetables, and meats. With apples, you check to make sure they’re not rotten, and you buy them. Lettuce? Is it green or brown? Brownish lettuce is starting to rot, and green is fresher (unless the lettuce is naturally brown). Duh. Squishy tomatoes are about to go bad, and potatoes are obvious as fuck due to the horrid smell they emit. No one browses through package after package of ground beef looking for “the good one”; you just grab one that isn’t a nasty brown color and go about your day. But melons, NO! Somehow melons are the single thing in the produce department that takes 5 to 10 minutes to find the “the good one.” Get the hell out of here…

The Right Way?

I found a website that seemed to give some decent tips at finding a “good” melon, or as they called it, a “ripe” melon. First off, a ripe melon is a different thing than a “good” one, and already seemed to be off on an objective footing. Secondly, the things to look for actually make some sense in an obvious way. Suggested traits to look for are a firm husk with no soft spots, a yellow spot where it laid on the ground (as opposed to a whitish spot), the melon should feel heavy, and the melon should sound hollow. These are boring things to look for, but they don’t send my “bullshit” alarm into insane mode because they make logical sense. We look for firm fruit and vegetables all the time, and it’s almost obvious to realize a soft watermelon is going to be nasty to eat. At first I was confused about the spot, but if it starts off as a white spot and becomes yellow as the melon ripens, well, that makes sense then. It’s like saying a red tomato is ripe when a green one isn’t. Like no shit. And the heaviness? That is because a ripe watermelon has a lot of water in it (go figure) and water is pretty heavy. “Listening” to the watermelon also makes some sense as you’re simply listening for a hollow-sounding melon that doesn’t sound “dull.” This ensures that the melon isn’t filled with nasty, goopy, rotten pulp.

The point with these things is that they don’t tell you that the watermelon will taste amazing! No, they simply tell you that the watermelon isn’t fucking unripe or rotting. These traits are also fairly obvious as opposed to the witchcraft the customers all seemed to be doing. There isn’t a “good” watermelon sound that only you can hear properly; you’re just making sure it doesn’t sound dull and liquidy inside. Picking watermelons isn’t glamorous, and you don’t get to prance around like you’re the Watermelon God or something because you’re so damn good at it, so sorry. But considering the watermelon is a melon, these techniques are probably about as good as you can do without cutting it open and having a taste of the damn thing.

If I Ate Watermelons…

…I’d look for something akin to the paragraphs above: a watermelon that isn’t blatantly rotting, soft, or leaking all over the place. That’s it. If I go to buy a watermelon for someone else, that’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to walk up, and get a damn watermelon. It’ll take me twenty seconds at most to find one, and it’ll probably be almost as good as any other watermelon. And if it isn’t, well, it’s not like the watermelon eater I’m shopping for will know the other melons were tastier. It’ll be good enough.

In case you don’t know, Sam’s Club (and hence Walmart) is a fairly large company and they don’t source their melons from mom-and-pop farm operations; they most likely get melons in bulk from big-ass farms that mass produce them, just like every other thing they have in stock. My point here is these melons are planted in bulk, probably genetically modified, grown in bulk, and are all picked at the same time with little care given to ripeness or quality. There isn’t going to be much variance in the melons, because they’re not “hand picked” in that way that hand-picking implies. There probably is nothing better about watermelon A, B, or C; they’re probably nearly carbon-copies or clones of each other. And if I was buying a watermelon from a large supplier like that, well, I’m going to just randomly pick one because that’s about as good as you can do. The melons probably won’t be the best, and won’t vary much in flavor, so don’t waste your time.

If you’re at a farmers market or a local produce supplier, sure, you might be a bit more discerning with your melon picks, although you might be assured that the person picking them is themselves an expert and picked them at the prime of ripeness. This also gives you some reassurance that the melons will be “good” because someone who knows what’s going on with melons would’ve picked them. But if you’re at Walmart, or another large grocery store, just do what I’d tell a few customers to do in regards to finding a “good watermelon”: just fucking pick a melon because they’re most likely all the same.

Fun Fact: There’s a National Watermelon Promotion Board complete with a Watermelon Website. Yes, watermelons have their own lobbying group to influence the government.