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Monday, Sep 25, 2017
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It's tough to MYOB at B&B

The century-old bed and breakfast in Savannah, Ga., was utterly charming — gorgeous period pieces, wood floors, a long porch lined with rocking chairs, rustic fireplaces tucked into cozy corners. So why did there have to be all those people? Everybody assumes newspaper reporters are extroverted jerks; how else can we ask all those annoying questions and probe bereft survivors about how they feel? The dark secret of our profession is that many of us are introverts. We get into journalism because we love to write, and it's one of the only ways to make a near-living wage while doing it. So, no, we're really not all ghouls who want to publish Dale Earnhardt crash photos or chase Princess Di to her death.
I'm definitely an introvert, and my husband, an editor, is a closeted one. Our solitary ways have made us wary of B&Bs, but a recent deal on Groupon enticed us. We agreed to try it for a long weekend, as an experiment. We were checked in by a friendly guy ("My name is George!") who greeted us by name before we'd left our car, introduced himself as our host, and told us we had arrived just in time for social hour. Ready for the free wine and cheese after the six-hour drive from Valrico — score one for the B&B! — we shuffled into the main dining room. Fresh meat! Immediately, strangers gathered 'round, asking where we were from and at what restaurant we planned to eat that night. We quickly learned that food and restaurants are the common ground among B&Bers of disparate ages, occupations and football teams. Apparently, some people want to experience life in groups of happy strangers, and God bless them. I suspect the same is true of cruise-ship fans, although there you also have the lingering excitement of just maybe being asked to don a life vest and jump into a small boat filled with frightened strangers. We avoid cruises, too. All of our fellow B&Bers, as well as our two hosts, were achingly nice. When my husband darted away to get a beer, a man rushed up to keep me from having to stand alone for 20 seconds. Where was I from? What restaurant were we going to tonight? What food did we plan to eat? The talk may have been superficial then, but the walls of an old house are thin. Let's just say we now know much more about Tom and Mary than we learned in the social hour. Although we sometimes splurge on a fancier place, my husband and I are mostly plain-ol', by-the-highway, chain-hotel types. We like a microwave and a mini-fridge, two appliances that seem to appear in inverse relation to how expensive a hotel is. The fanciest places have nothing but a bed and nightstand, and maybe some $50 cans of macadamia nuts. The middle-of-the-road hotels seem to understand that guests are hauling their own sodas and don't necessarily want to share that they're off to dine at Cracker Barrel and won't be dressing for dinner. Or for breakfast. Our B&B served breakfast at specific seatings, and the couple who showed up a little late for ours (the understandably fatigued Tom and Mary) were gently chided by the host. Everyone sat at the same table and talked about, you guessed it, food. My husband and I had a great weekend. You can't go wrong in Savannah. But next time we'll find a nice hotel with a fridge, a microwave, maybe a make-your-own waffle machine. We'll smile at fellow travelers and keep moving. Introvert bliss.

dkoehn@tampatrib.com (813) 259-8264

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