I'm In Canada And Convinced This Wouldn't Have Happened To Me Anyplace In The US

This is part of our series on the Alberta oil sands.

I just got into Ft. McMurray Canada after a very long day at the Alberta oil sands drilling site Christina Lake, a remote spot about 60 kilometers from here.

This is the second trip I’ve made for BI, and I do my best to book accommodations as cheaply as possible. There’s nothing like a stiff spell in the Army to really make you OK with any set of clean sheets after a long day, and the few bucks I save makes me feel alright about hitting Henry up for stuff like the flight over the oil sands mines I’ll be taking tomorrow.

So I get to the Super 8 Ft. McMurray and there’s a problem with my two reservations, not the staff’s fault and they eventually get me set up, no big deal. Then I use my three last Canadian dollars to get a Coke Zero, the machine stiffs me, and the girl at the desk apologizes they can’t offer refunds.

I get to my room, pour myself a glass of lukewarm tap water and the phone rings. I look at it, not at all sure I want to answer. “Mr. Johnson this is Amanda at the front desk, would you be interested in a room upgrade?”

I glance about the space at the old card table in the corner, the tired rug and the uneven bed covered by a dark brown polyester bedspread, and say “Sure, but uh, what prompted the offer?”

“Well,” she says. “It seems we had a bit of a struggle getting you checked in, and we just want to make your day a little better.”

I said thanks, went and got a new key, still not expecting too much, but appreciating the gesture nonetheless. I was directed to the “executive wing” and opened the door on a newly refinished room, with Egyptian cotton sheets, a down comforter, a couch, chair, and a desk to work from.

I’m sitting there now as I post this and remain firmly convinced I’d still be at the card table if I were anywhere in the lower 48.

I’m working on the ton of pictures I took today at the oil sands site while feeling like I’m at the Four Seasons. It may be nearly May, and snowing hard all damn day, but I think I could get used to this place.

Ft. McMurray Room

Photo: Robert Johnson — Business Insider

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