I had 8 hours of driving ahead of me, so I got up as early as possible today, which was difficult after getting back to the hotel at 3am. It was hard to say goodbye to the lovely folks at the Penny Lane Pub.
I got back on the road out of Richmond and started towards the Appalachian mountains and Tennessee. The drive was just what I needed after the chaos of the day before. Green forests stood tall on either side of the road. I set up my tripod on the car seat and was able to film the road as I was driving. Hopefully I can keep this up throughout the trip, although it will probably be strange for other drivers to see a camera hovering in the window of my passenger seat. I got into Knoxville, Tennessee without incident to stay for the night.
I stumbled upon America’s Best Value Inn, possibly the worst shithole hotel in all of Knoxville. The night before, I’d purchased the room online. The pictures looked decent and it was cheap. When I arrived, I could tell there were some shady dealings going on. It reminded me of those scenes in movies where they meet up at a motel, go into a room, open a briefcase and say, “Here’s the drugs, you got the money?” This was the hotel room from those movies, along with some crackheads, prostitutes and pimps thrown in for good measure. I didn’t think to read the reviews when I purchased the room, but the next day I read a few:
“Bed Bug infested roach infested a lot of crimes such as prostitution and drugs…People beating and robbing people breaking into rooms, Severe beatings”
“I am writing now from my room in this shit. I travel a lot and this is the worst motel I’ve ever stayed in! Location is BAD. Area is dangerous or it seems as it is. Room is stinky. it’s very old and dirty.”
“By far the worst hotel experience of my life. This place was absolutely disgusting and should be leveled.”
After I tried unsuccessfully to get my money back at the check-in counter, a dirty bearded fellow named, “Lil’ Jon”, introduced himself with a polite fist bump.
“Hey hey buddy, how ya doin, I’m Lil’ Jon. Anything you need I got.”
I think he was the unofficial “check-in” after the official check-in. He basically stood around the parking lot all day. I gave him a polite wave of acknowledgment and went to my room. He hovered around my room as I was opening the door, so I kind of gruffly asked him “whaddya want?”
He said, “Nah nothin, just trying to chat man.”
I realized a little later that I should probably try to get on his good side, since my car was in the parking lot, full of my belongings. I came back out of my room and said, “Hey Lil’ Jon, was nice to meet you man!”
He responded, “Yeah cool. Hey do you need a lady?”
“Nah I’m cool, thanks anyway” I said, and we parted on amicable terms.
I drove into downtown to get some food and a beer on the main drag, South Gay street. I had some tasty pork chops, cinnamon apples, garlic mashed potatoes, and their locally brewed beer. I didn’t want to go back to the motel until very late, so I found a live music venue called Preservation Pub. It’s legal to smoke indoors in Tennessee. Everybody in the room was smoking, so I bought a pack of cigarettes from their vending machine and partook. I’m a “If everybody else is doing it, I’ll do it” kind of smoker. The music was one man with a laptop called “Half Def”. He was a hipster-looking rapper with mean sideburns and a potbelly who rapped about killing zombies and smoking weed. There was one girl on the dance floor gyrating and flailing around wildly, really using the empty floor to her advantage.
I tried to kick off more dancing with a couple flight attendants I met there. I’d never met flight attendants outside of a plane before. They both had thick southern accents. One seemed a little pissed off and jaded about something, and the other was happy and smiled a lot. Apparently a day in the life of a Tennessee flight attendant is: getting up at 5am, flying to Arkansas on an 80 seat plane, then flying back and forth again two or three times, serving peanuts and water, and dealing with disgruntled passengers for 12 hours. An older lady started getting down on the dance floor by herself, I somehow managed to talk the flight attendants into joining me.
Tennessee Flight Attendants
Something people may not know about me is if I see a dance floor, I gotta dance. I try to warn people if I go out with them so they’re not surprised when I end up jumping in and flailing around wildly. The flight attendants and I got the place going a bit. a few other people joined in. When the solitary gyrating girl returned, I went back to the bar to give her space to do her strange, interpretive movements. She was the real pro tonight and i had to give it up for her. One thing that’s good about passing through cities like this is I can act like an idiot and not worry about being embarrassed the next day. By then I’ll be long gone.
When I got back to the motel at 2am, Lil Jon was still in the parking lot waiting for connections. We said our good nights and I went to my room and crashed.
Originally published at theinbetweentimes.com.