By now, many of you have heard about the six hour and twenty-two minute rain delay at this year’s Daytona 500. Others of you might even know that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race. What you haven’t heard is the story about Zeke and Bubba. It’s about two brothers and their adventures related to this year’s race. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Zeke and Bubba were vacationing in Florida with their wives. Being the avid NASCAR fans that they are, they decided to go to the Daytona 500. Their wives wisely spent their race weekend shopping.
After bidding their lovely wives adieu, the senior citizen brothers drove toward Daytona. The first order of business was reserving their parking spot for race day. They paid $50 to park in a Five Guys restaurant parking lot near the track. Then they checked out the souvenir stands at the track before going to dinner.
They arrived at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse woefully underdressed. Imagine them dressed in typical NASCAR race fan attire. Instead of turning them away, the hostess seated them in a “special” room in the very back of the restaurant.
After dinner, they checked into their hotel, 30+ miles away. It was a Candlewood Suites property.
The clerk asked, “Have you ever stayed with us before?”
They responded, “No.”
“Well, you have a standard room. There is no maid service for the weekend.”
Dismayed, they replied, “Huh?”
“Your room will not be cleaned during your stay. If you need something, like towels or toilet paper, you will have to come to the desk and ask.”
“No, sir. I’m not kidding.”
Zeke inquired, “What about breakfast in the morning?”
“We do not offer a continental breakfast. We do have a few vending machines around the corner. And there are several restaurants nearby.”
Zeke and Bubba gave each other a look and shook their heads. They completed the check-in process and received their room keys.
They located their room and flipped on the light. To their surprise, there was only one bed. It was not a king size bed. They weren’t even sure it was a queen size bed.
Knowing every room within one hundred miles of the track was booked, they knew they were stuck. At least they were moderately close to the track.
They decided to make the best of it and relax. Zeke commandeered the recliner. When he pulled the lever, the recliner went back, way back. Almost perfectly horizontal. That was the only position it offered. And the chair wasn’t level by any means; it leaned heavily to the right. He tried to shift his weight to level the chair, but it was like riding a surf board through a tidal wave, lying on your back. The waves were relentless. Tilting and rocking this way, then that.
Bubba laughed at his brother’s misfortune as he sat in a swivel chair. He propped his feet up on another chair. He leaned back and within moments, he flipped over the back of the chair and crashed to the floor, hard.
Zeke struggled to free himself from the tipsy recliner and rushed to his brother’s aid. “Are you okay?”
Dazed, Bubba responded, “I think so.”
Zeke helped his brother up, and they had a good laugh over it.
They finally decided to call it a night. There was no clock in the room. So, they called the desk for a wake-up call. After getting ready for bed, they left the bathroom light on, in case nature called in the middle of the night.
The bed was barely big enough for the two of them. Zeke joked that they could do a remake of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.”
In the early hours of the morning, Zeke had to go to the bathroom. When he tried to open the bathroom door, it was locked. All of his pushing and pulling on the handle woke up Bubba.
Bubba asked, “What are you doing?”
“I have to go to the bathroom, and the door’s locked.”
“How can it be locked?”
“I don’t know. It’s locked.”
Bubba got up and tried the door. “It’s locked.”
“That’s what I’ve been saying.”
After several more minutes of pushing, pulling and sticking various objects in the doorknob hole, Bubba slid a coin into the slot and unlocked the door. There was much rejoicing. And both were relieved, literally and figuratively.
At 6:00 A.M., the wake-up call sounded. Zeke grabbed the phone on the night stand. It was dead. The phone across the room taunted him. (I’m imaging a curse word was uttered at this point.) Bubba got up and answered the other phone.
Around 7:30 A.M., they drove 30+ miles to the Five Guys lot and parked. Then, they walked a quarter of a mile to the Cracker Barrel for a hearty breakfast. The restaurant looked like it had been gutted. The store part of the restaurant was non-existent. Long picnic tables stretched from one end of the building to the other. People were packed in like sardines.
The hostess asked, “How many in your party?”
Zeke replied, “Two.”
Always the jokester, he spelled, “E-I-E-I-O.”
He watched as the girl actually wrote, “E-I-E-I-O.”
Zeke apologized, “I’m sorry. I was joking.”
The girl looked at what she had written and laughed.
Zeke smiled and gave his real name.
Once seated, they were handed the menu. There were five, yes, count ‘em – five choices. That was it. The choices were priced at $7 and $9. The only eggs you could order were scrambled. You couldn’t order toast or waffles. But you could have all of the grits and gravy you could eat.
Zeke and Bubba were not fans of grits and gravy. Zeke ordered a $9 breakfast—a slice of sugar cured ham, hash brown casserole, three scrambled eggs and fried apples. He even managed to sweet-talk the waitress into bringing him sourdough toast. He was the only person to get toast that morning. He said, “It was de-licious!”
Bubba got a $7 breakfast—sausage patties, hash brown casserole and three scrambled eggs.
After breakfast, they walked back to the Five Guys parking lot and sat at one of the outdoor picnic tables. Zeke took a nap. Bubba read a magazine.
Many of the area restaurants were closed and sold their parking spots for $40 or $50 each. So their options for lunch were limited. They decided on Panera. The “You-Pick-Two” deal had healthy choices for soups, salads and sandwiches.
They entered the Panera and joined the line. The bakery items beckoned to them.
Zeke said, “I don’t know about you. But I’m not going to waste any calories on soup or salad.”
So, they ordered danishes, scones and other tasty treats.
Riding their sugar high, off to the track they went, and they hiked to their seats. The first part of the race was enjoyable, but hot. Initially, they were relieved when the clouds rolled in. That soon changed.
Bubba looked at Zeke. “I felt raindrops. Do you feel raindrops?”
“Yup. We better head for cover.”
Sitting on aluminum seats in the middle of a thunderstorm with tornado sirens going off was not good.
They found shelter in the entrance of the men’s bathroom. And there they stood, for the next six hours. They were not about to give up their spots for anything. And they met a lot of interesting people, coming and going. (Sorry, Zeke insisted on the pun.)
Eventually, the rain let up, and they were hungry. They forfeited their coveted spots in search of food. Remember, vendors were prepared for an afternoon event, not an entire day-long event. Two booths ran out of beer. One ran out of cheeseburgers. Another ran out of pop and foot-long corn dogs. They finally found a vendor with food—Philly cheesesteaks. But that vendor didn’t have drinks. Parched, they searched and searched for a vendor with drinks.
While quenching their thirst, they stood under some bleachers. It was raining, and they had no rain gear. Zeke came up with an idea. He approached a track worker. “Can you help a race fan out? It’s pouring, and I could really use one of those garbage bags.”
The worker handed over a black garbage bag. Zeke poked a hole in the bottom for his head and poked out two arm holes. He and his NASCAR shirt would now stay dry. He ran back and told Bubba to get himself one.
Bubba ended up paying a dollar for his rain gear. He was too embarrassed to beg for a bag. He only poked a hole big enough for his head.
At this point, Zeke realized his Dale Earnhardt commemorative hat could get ruined by the rain. So he walked over to a souvenir stand.
As he approached, the lady commented, “Nice poncho.”
Zeke pressed his hands together in prayer and with a weird accent pleaded with the lady, “I have come to beg for a helmet.”
It took her a second to figure it out. She laughed heartily and handed him one of her plastic bags. She mimicked his weird accent, “Here is your helmet.”
No one has ever accused him of not being resourceful. Zeke gleefully pulled the bag down over his head. Kids, don’t try this at home! It was clear, so he could see through it. But after a few minutes (and almost suffocating,) he poked holes only big enough for his eyes and nose, and proudly donned his helmet.
Then the brothers headed back to the men’s room to get some paper towels to dry their seats. Not wanting to be seen carrying the paper towels, they stuffed them into the front of their pants. So, now picture them wearing their garbage bags with protruding bellies, and Zeke wearing his helmet.
Toward the end of the race, they worried about getting clean towels and toilet paper for their hotel room. They realized they weren’t going to get back until after midnight. They didn’t think anyone would be at the desk. And they only had a partial roll of toilet paper left. And they had thrown all of their towels on the bathroom floor. Quite a conundrum.
During their last visit to the men’s room, Zeke encouraged Bubba to grab some toilet paper. “What if there’s nobody at the desk when we get back? We don’t have enough toilet paper. We have to have toilet paper.”
Bubba agreed. When they got back to the car, Bubba pulled out an industrial roll of toilet paper from under his garbage bag poncho. (You know the enormous rolls that weigh a few pounds each.)
Zeke and Bubba laughed like school boys.
At 12:30 A.M., they arrived at the hotel. And to their surprise, there was a lady at the desk. She eyed the enormous roll of toilet paper Bubba was carrying.
Zeke quipped, “Don’t worry. It’s for our adding machine.”
Bubba and Zeke laughed all the way to their room.
Zeke gathered all of the dirty, wet towels and carried them to the desk. “We need towels.”
The lady pointed. “I’ll meet you around back.”
Zeke replied, mischievously, “Oh, I’d love to meet you around back.”
The woman shook her head.
He met her in the laundry room to get fresh towels, as Bubba yelled, “Don’t forget to get a roll of toilet paper!”
Apparently, the gigantic roll was a bit unwieldy to manage.
When they checked out the next morning, Bubba decided to leave the toilet paper behind, which probably bewildered the housekeeping staff. Then the men drove back to the other side of Florida to rejoin their wives.
After the men relayed the tale of their weekend adventure, Bubba’s wife said, “Oh, you poor guys. You had so many troubles.”
Zeke’s wife just smiled.
The brothers exclaimed, “What are you talking about? We had a wonderful time!”
And they meant it.
Copyright © 2014 by Suzanne Purewal