The holidays are over. It's time to sort through and maybe even use a few gift certificates! I love to receive gift certificates, especially to favorite retailers. I also appreciate vouchers that can be exchanged for cash. That brings up a question, dear readers. What would you do with a truly hefty gift certificate for something you didn't want; a certificate that couldn't be refunded or exchanged?
A couple of years ago Brad and I received an embarrassingly large gift certificate to a hotel we didn't want to go to, in a small, pretentious town we didn't want to visit. The amount of the gift certificate would have bought one or two big power tools, 3 or 4 days stay on Kona, or a lot of perfume. I have my theories about why anyone would give this kind of a gift, but I'll save those for another time. It would have been extremely impolitic of us to return the certificate to the givers. The sensible thing to do would have been to re-gift or maybe donate the certificate to a fund raising auction, but we felt obligated (don't ask me why) to use it. So begins our story of A Room With a View.
We needed moral support to "enjoy" our gift and enlisted our friends Ellen and Michael to help us spend the entire gift certificate as quickly and painlessly as possible. On a cold afternoon in late December the four of us pulled up to a hotel of sorts on Whidbey Island, WA. After the desk clerk added insult to injury by requesting an additional $70 (!) in tax, we headed to our accommodations.
The suite located above a shop in downtown Langley, has two bedrooms and a single bath. It is tastefully furnished, except for the artwork, which appears to be rejected material from the shop below. One window has a view of the street and parking lot. The other looks out on a deck, rooftops, a tree and a sliver of the Saratoga Passage, complete with what appear to be smoking factories or nuclear power plants. When we arrived, these limited vistas were partially obscured by fingerprints, dog slobber and smeared Windex. Dust bunnies, hair, and crumbs had settled, undisturbed, under the tables. The wine glasses in the otherwise clean kitchen were smudged with lipstick. While the dust and the dirty windows made us feel right at home, we were expecting a lot more for the exorbitant price!
We stowed our gear and went out to explore the town only to discover that 75% of the shops were closed and the small, pebbly area between the water and the town (it couldn’t really be called a beach) was covered by high tide. Fellow tourists were wandering around in the frozen air, looking like bored zombies trying to come up with something to do. After about thirty minutes we returned to a warm fire and settled into three movies, a picnic supper, wine, cheese and dessert. At 11:39 pm there was a heavy thumping sound followed by rock and roll as a 4.8 earthquake rattled the smudged windows and dirty glassware.
The following morning we made our way to the dining room for a complimentary breakfast of lox, hard-boiled eggs, muffins, and underdone quiche. The owner/proprietor stopped by our table on her way in to have breakfast and inquired about our stay. I was about to suggest a capable cleaning service when Ellen, fortuitously, jumped in with a non sequitur comment about the sunny weather. After breakfast we quickly packed and beat a hasty retreat to a local winery.
Our experience in Langley was an adventure, of sorts, in pretension, amplified by unrealized expectations. In 2015 Brad and I received yet another gift certificate to a different expensive hotel in the same town! This time we will ungratefully re-gift it!
Ellen's note: Readers, what is the most unjustifiably overpriced and/or pretentious gift you have ever received? What did you do with it? Leave a comment and be entered in a drawing for an Olympic Orchids (perfumes or plants) gift certificate! The drawing will take lace on Tuesday, January 19.
[All photos are mine/Azar's]