An occasion arose where I needed to reserve a motel room in the small town of Heavener, Oklahoma. I have passed through Heavener several times on my way to Broken Bow Lake, but never stayed in the place. Heavener’s claim to fame is the Heavener Runestone, a rock alleged to hold an inscription by early Viking explorers. However , the authenticity of the markings are in dispute.
A Google search turned up one motel.
“Sorry, we’re full.”
Full? The week after Christmas? In Heavener, OK? Are there that many people in town to see the Runestone? Uh, okay, any other motels in town?”
"The Crane Motel,” he says.
Another Google search confirms that there is indeed a Crane Motel but there are no photos, no ads, no room rates, no reviews. Fearing that the Crane would be yet another experience to add to my list of Motels From Hell, I consult the map for the nearest town. Poteau is only 12 miles north. Close enough. Google lists three motels, all well known names.
Day’s Inn looked suitable and I dial the number at the top of the add, an 866 number. From the moment she said “Thank you for calling Day’s Inn,” I knew this gal was not from Oklahoma, unless there is a colony of East Indians somewhere in the corner of the state. Like in the country of India. I’m not talking about Apaches or Kiowas here.
Now those who know me, know that I am about as deaf as a fence post. I have amplified phones, headphones, hearing aids, even a speech to text phone for Pete’s sake, and I still struggle with phone conversations, especially a female, and more so when the female has an accent. I knew where this conversation was going before it started.
She mumbled something about room preference. That’s what it sounded like. I took a chance. “Non-smoking, lowest price.” There was a long silence. I must have guessed wrong. But she came back with “One night?” Okay, so far so good.
“So that’s one night, at Day’s in at Moore, Oklahoma?”
Moore is just outside Oklahoma City. How the hell did Moore get in the picture? Or did she really say Poteau? I was in big trouble.
“No,no, Poteau, Oklahoma as in P-o-t-e-a-u.”
“One moment, we have a lot of listings for Day’s Inn in Oklahoma.” Clearly, I was not communicating, with Annahanda, or Annabarisha, or Anaconda or whatever the hell her name was.
Storm clouds of impatience were gathering. My mood turning dark.
“Mr. Williams? I have a room at the Holiday Inn for $97 and that’s with a swimming pool.”
“Holiday Inn? What happened to Day’s Inn? Who do you work for anyway?” Then I realized, she probably said Day’s Inn, not Holiday. Had my aging ears deceived me once again?
"Darlin’, it’s been nice talking to you, but I got to find somebody that speaks Okie. Goodbye.”
More Internet searches and I find another number, a 918 number, my area code. I dial it.
“Day’s Inn of Poteau. This is Joanna.”
A native Oklahoman with a trace of southern accent. I was back among my people.