Thursday, July 5, 2012

Can't in Connecticut

'Can't' isn't in my vocabulary.  'Challenged'....yes, but not the word 'can't'.  In Connecticut, however, the phrase "I can't" seems to be part of the venacular.

Checking into a national chain hotel, I requested the room rate shown online, which was $30 cheaper than the rate the young lady was quoting me.  Showing her the rate on the small Iphone screen, she shrugged her shoulders, smacked her gum and said,

"I can't".
"But it is published right there."  I countered.
"I don't care.  I can't do it."  she sniveled, cracking her gum again.

Now, it wasn't so much that I couldn't get the lower rate that irked me, but her apathetic, "I can't"  attitude. After such gracious hosts the last several days, this smacked me in the face like a wet tuna.  It stank!

"Well,"  I said, trying to enroll her to help me, "How do we go about getting this rate?  Surely others have come in using this site with this rate.  What can we do to make this work?"

"I don't know. I can't do it",  she answered, never looking up from  her computer screen.

"Is there anyone here that can?"  I queried.
"Ok.  Do you have availability for tonight?"
"Oh, yes.  There aren't too many people staying here tonight."


"If you have empty rooms, does it make sense to rent me a room at this price rather than letting it stand empty?"
"No....I can't."
"Why not?"
"It's not in the computer."
"Ok, thank you."  I replied, and left.

Out in my car, I fired up my netbook, and jumped on the internet.  Finding the booking site, I made a reservation, closed the computer, then re-entered the hotel.  After a brief wait, the same girl, smacking the same gum, emerged from the back office and took her position in front of the computer screen.

"I have a reservation,"  I said, handing her my drivers licence.

Consulting the computer screen, she checked me the lower rate.

"Enjoy your stay," she said handing me the keys as if our previous conversation had never transpired.

After stowing my gear, I went next door to a restaurant. Ordering, I requested that the french fries be substituted with broccoli, which was also on the menu.

"I can't,"  answered the young waiter, "It comes with french fries."


Not wanting to go through the whole "I can't' thing again, I took the french fries.

Early the next morning, I parked far out in an almost vacant strip shopping center parking lot.  As I was preparing to ride, someone walking by came over.  I greeted him with a friendly "Good Morning", to which he replied "You can't park there."   Not wishing to argue, I moved across the street, parking in an equally empty shopping center lot.

Once on the road, I enjoyed the sights and sounds of the area. Surprised to discover that tobacco was a big crop, I watched the migrant workers toil under the hot sun while teenagers splashed in a pool next to the fields.  I wondered if the workers felt any resentment.  I also wondered if any of them fell out of the transport vehicle, which was a school bus that had the all of its sides removed and rows of benches fastened to to the floor.  I suspect it was hidden somewhere when OSHA came to inspect.

Powering up a steep hill on a somewhat busy road, I shifted wrong and dropped my chain.  Unable to get it to catch while still riding, I stopped, moved off the road and into the edge of a yard.  I had done a good job of jamming it, and was diligently working to fix it, sweat pouring down my face, when I felt someone's presence.

Turning around, a middle-aged man, drinking a Coke, was observing me.

"You can't do that here", he said, pointing at my bike with his Coke can and walked away. There was no explanation....just that word again...."can't".   I watched him retreat, finished setting the chain and left.  I was starting to feel as if someone was pranking me.....

Hot and tired, I stopped about 35 miles into the ride at a convenience store.  A cold drink sounded very refreshing! In fact, a Slurpee sounded even better!  Filling a small cup full of Wild Cherry Slurpee, I went to the register and pulled out $2 to pay for the $1.50 charge.  Sucking on the straw, the cold, sweet fluid tasted like Ambrosia, instantly bringing down my body temperature.  MMMM--it was good!   Wincing from the brain freeze that also instantly hit me, I put money down on the counter.

"I can't take that,"  said the older lady at the register.

I looked at her expectantly, thinking she was going to show mercy on me and just give it to me. but she continued to explain:

"The computer is down and I can't ring you up."


"I've already had some of it."  I acknowledged.
"I can't ring you up."
"Then, what if I just gave you the money, and you keep the change?",  I offered.
"I can't"
"Then, may I just have it?  I've already started drinking it.", I pleaded hopefully.
"No, you can't.  I can't ring you up"
"Then, what should I do?",  I asked, drawing more of the wonderful coldness through the straw.
"I don't know.  I can't ring you up."
"Well, here, let me leave my money, and ring it when you're up and running again.", I again offered.
"I can't"

Now, a local man in line behind me was listening to this Abbott and Costello exchange.  Stepping forward, he intervened....

"Look, Betty, just let her have it and I'll pay for it the next time I am in."
"I can't"

He tried to convince her for several more minutes, but to no avail.  Finally, he said
"You've got to be able to do something.  She's already started drinking it....let one of us leave some money."
"I can't ring it up.", the woman again said, then turned an got a smaller cup, "but she can put it in this and drink it. I won't charge her."

Bewildered at this 5 minute ordeal, I accepted the small cup, poured the remaining Slurpee into it and thanked both of them.  The gentleman then put his purchases down and pulled money out to pay.

"I can't." , the woman began again, getting quite agitated.

He and I just looked at each other, chuckling at the insanity of it.

I still shake my head at that whole's one of those things that make me go "hmmmm".

I heard the word 'can't used so much during my brief stay in Connecticut, that I wonder if the nearby University of Connecticut, also known as UConn, shouldn't be called UCan't instead. pictures.  My camera broke.....I think it had a case of the "I can'ts".


  1. Sue, think I would have put the money on the counter and walked out! Would you belive that when we traveled back to Ohio for Mom Wells funeral in May, the hotel in Wadsworth where the girls all stayed had a funeral rate. We stayed in the same hotel in WI (as the one in Wadsworth) on our way to Ohio and they would give us a funeral rate for the room because it was a "resort" town! And, on the way back that same room went up in price!

  2. OOPS, Meant would NOT give us a funeral rate (unless Fred made the reservation online, but that would not work)