The Night at Dubois (La nuit au Dubois)

by  Sam C. Chan
This is an essay in French, written as a beginner's exercise. You're reading the English version of that article.  See also: French version.  (en français)

In May of 2001, Vicky and I went on a 7-day trip across three states: Ohio, New York and New Jersey.

We first drove from Brockport, NY to Cleveland, Ohio to attend a quarterly Intel conference. Then, we visited our our friend Renée, her mother Solange (originally from France) and her stepfather Eric (originally from Manchester, UK). They are all very nice (and fun) people. We stayed for 2 nights, at the Red Roof Inn.

We then went on to New Jersey, where we attended a 2-day regional conference and training, organized by The ASCII Group (an IT industry guild). This time, we stayed at the Hilton, where the events are being held. Needless to say, the luxury and spaciousness were in stark contrast to the low-price accommodation we had back in Cleveland. At the conclusion of the conference, we took the opportunity to visit 3 of our long time suppliers in the area. New Jersey (like New York and California) is full of computer distributors.

That was the end of our business engagement. We spent the rest of the trip in New York City for sightseeing. We decided to stay in New Jersey because hotels are more expensive in NYC. We moved from the Hilton to the more affordable AmeriSuites (one of my favorite chains over the years) in Secaucus, NJ, with easy access to the tunnel to enter NYC.

By now, you might be wondering: Why the mysterious title with a French-name city?

Dubois, PA mapIt turns out that the quickest way from Cleveland to NY/NJ metro area is via I-80, which cuts through the heart of Pennsylvania. Because we departed Ohio after dinner, we couldn't drive straight through to New Jersey. The closest thing to a city along the way was Dubois, which is still considered "middle of nowhere" by most standards. We arrived at the office of this privately owned motel late at night.

After repeated ringing, the proprietor of the inn, a friendly and helpful Indian gentleman, finally came to unlock the office door―in pajamas! He had apparently retired for the night  presumably a standard practice. We immediately realized that there were really no practical justifications for an on-duty person around the clock. Since we were only accustomed to operations of the chain hotels/motels―up until that point, it still struck us as an odd experience. And it didn't end there. We discovered that the properties were kept in excellent conditions, and superb cleanliness, with many obvious renovations. But there were still various fixtures from an unfamiliar era remaining. Our juvenile inner selves emerged. We were constantly exchanging looks of puzzlement, smirks, snickers, and out-right giggles.

Incidentally, we have a friend Melissia with Dubois as her surname. Her mother Wendy is from England and is a good friend of Vicky and I.

Years later, we still occasionally talk about that unusual experience―the night at Dubois.

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