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Eleven hours left to drive back from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta, I stopped by Orlando to spend the night and explore the city the day after. Only needing a place to sleep in, I did not intend to waste money on a luxurious hotel. Google offered a long list of cheap hotels and motels, including a secluded two-star hotel on which I decided. Despite the horrendous reviews, I remained optimistic seeing the deceptively neat photos online. I booked a non-smoking room, and the second I entered, I understood why these reviewers were unanimously unsatisfied. The entire room, in spite of being a non-smoking area, smelled as if a pothead had been living there for years. I immediately grabbed air freshener from the lobby and sprayed the room every ten minutes to distract me from the sickening smell of marijuana. I then moved to the sink to brush my teeth only to find it severely clogged. I proceeded to the bathroom and slipped off the toilet, thanks to the detached case. Having sweated all day long, I needed a shower and hopped in the bathtub to stand on an arbitrary unneeded carpet, covered in dots of blood.

Where I slept.

Where I slept.

I did not expect splendor, but the weed odor created and gradually worsened my headache. I went under my blanket to hide from the disgust and managed to fall asleep soon. Thirty minutes passed, and I was wide-awake. A seemingly uneducated group of people had gathered in the center of the hotel square and refused to quit howling for hours. My neighbor blasting his music and electrifying my room did not help mitigate my sensitivity. I thought of checking out around twelve thirty in the evening and sleeping in my car but persevered and miraculously fell back asleep. I woke up around seven in the morning and hurried out of the room like a wanted man. Inhaling fresh air, I felt alive again, though the headache took hours to fully vanish.

I could not stop wondering what one-star hotels would be like if the trash can from which I had fled was given two stars. “Jail” continued to pop up in my head as the only hypothesis. I learned that sometimes spending more money may be a wiser move. “You get what you pay for,” but I would have been content sleeping in my car.