Tom Germond Sig

I’ve struggled to come up with an appropriate nickname for a testy operator of a hotel in Bar Harbor.

“Fat Face” first came to mind, but it would be lazy, juvenile and unprofessional on my account to call him that since I’ve already used the moniker at least twice in my career when referring to an assistant principal at the junior high school I attended.

Daydreaming in the pejorative, I’ve ruled out a dozen nicknames for the guy. I also asked Vera, my dear friend in Maine who stayed with me in the hotel room that evening, for some help since she made the reservation for us. I suspect it’s not a high priority for her.

So I guess I’ve made my own bed here. Some background:

When Vera and I first got a glimpse of the hotel in Bar Harbor, we noticed that it was in an area where some buildings were in disrepair. We were wary.

Since the cost to stay at the hotel was more than $200, Vera asked the proprietor if we could see the room. He grimaced and initially denied our request. Vera asked him to return our deposit, but he refused, saying the deadline to cancel our reservation had passed. We asked to see the room again; the hotel operator finally relented and led us upstairs to the unit. After looking at the décor, we deemed the room to be satisfactory.

The hotel operator, who henceforth will be known here as Mr. Insolent Innkeeper, decided to have the last word.

He said he was offended that we would ask to see the room before we checked in, boasting that his hotel had a four-star rating, great reviews and received other kinds of plaudits. Hearing Mr. Insolent Innkeeper’s line, you’d think that Queen Elizabeth and Arthur Friggin’ Frommer had spent a night there.

I think Vera and I were both so taken aback by Mr. Insolent Innkeeper’s tirade that we were speechless. He probably scared the hell out of the bedbugs, too.

Sooooo — we decided to go explore the town and try not to dwell on Mr. Insolent Innkeeper’s meltdown, especially since it was the first time I’d been to Bar Harbor, as well as Maine.

Centrifugal force brought us to an upstairs dining area in an establishment that had many local beers on tap.

“Do you think they will be offended if I ask to sample one of their beers?” I asked Vera. She snickered.

And this went on all day.

“I’m full. Will they be offended if I don’t eat the rest of my beans?”

I can assure you, I didn’t waste any beer.

I also was wondering if a local T-shirt shop employee would be offended if I tried on a shirt before I bought it.

At least the breakfast at Mr. Insolent Innkeepers’ place was good. But Vera and I were worried that other patrons were whispering about us: “That’s the tacky couple that asked to see their room.”

I made sure I cleaned my plate.

Returning to Bangor, where Vera lives, I was mulling over our encounter with Mr. Insolent Innkeeper. I discussed our experience at the Bar Harbor motel with a bartender at a brewery and asked her if she thought we were out of line. She assured me we were not.

“We’re in the hospitality business,” she said.

I also did some research online on whether it’s considered appropriate to ask a hotel operator to see a room before checking in. This, essentially, is what a hotel worker said: “Would you go to a restaurant and agree to be blindfolded so you can’t see the food before you eat it?”

So there.

Better to be safe than sorry. Decades ago, being the last of the great cheapskates, I stayed in an inexpensive hotel in Raleigh, N.C. Six months later, I had a bad case of bedbugs. My fingers itched for weeks. Threw away sheets and other bedding materials. I bet my doctor did, too.

Don’t want to do that again. And I learned the hard way: When in doubt, check it out.

Curious to know if any readers out there have had similar experiences and if they think Vera and I were out of line to ask to see a room at a four-star hotel before we checked in. Sorry, I can’t disclose the name of Mr. Insolent Innkeeper’s establishment. Don’t want to hear from a lawyer.

But I won’t be offended if you think Vera and I insulted Mr. Insolent Innkeeper. I’m used to being taken to task.

Be careful out there — and don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Tom Germond is executive editor of Tampa Bay Newspaper. He can be reached at 727-397-5563, ext. 330, or by email at