One of the pleasures of visiting a student at Bard College in New York is the opportunity to stay in a nearby bed and breakfast. While Bard is not located within any town, it surrounded by small towns with bed and breakfasts we’ve enjoyed like the Red Hook Country Inn, and The Inn at Hudson. This time, I called a new one, and finding it full, I made the mistake of asking for a recommendation and trusting the advice of the man on the phone.
He suggested the Gaslight Inn, in Red Hook. It is on Route 9, on the west side of the road, across from a gas station. The motel rooms closely resemble those of the Bates Motel, featured in the Hitchcock thriller “Psycho.” We arrived quite late, and found a note on the motel office door saying to use the intercom. “Hello?” said a quavery older woman’s voice.
I said my name.
“Did you call before?”
“Oh, is your name Molly?”
“Oh. How long are you staying?”
It went on like this, repeating all the details of our initial phone conversation. We were told room #7 was for us. The key was in the lock. The room was small, and smelled faintly of something; the fixtures were old and flimsy. The door did not even have a dead bolt on it.
After I stopped making comparisons to the Bates Motel, I realized the Gaslight Inn reminded me of the case Kveragas v. Scottish Inns, which we covered in Business Law. Armed intruders kicked in the flimsy hotel door of the room Mr. and Mrs. Kveragas were staying in, injured both, and made off with $3000 in cash and jewelry. If I understand the case correctly, as a guest I should be able to rely on the fact that a reasonably prudent motel operator would employ adequate protective measures for my safety. In the event that the persons responsible for the facility did not meet this standard of care, they are negligent. Of course, when the lady in the house comes and stabs us with a kitchen knife, she’ll have a key, since she’s the owner.
The day we checked out, the office was dark, and I had to ring the bell again. “Hello?” said the voice.
I said my name, adding, “We’re checking out.”
“Oh, did you tell me that before?”
“How much did I tell you the room would be?”
I had to leave a check with the housekeeper, Rosa, who had just arrived with a drink tray and coffees for her co-workers.