The motel’s neon vacancy sign lures the weary traveler from the freeway. She enters and inquires after a room. The receptionist, without looking up from his crossword, slides a clipboard across the front desk. An application? When did motels become prep schools?
The traveler scribbles in the requested information. Name: Monique Jackson. Reason you chose our motel: Sleep. She notices but ignores the advice that reads, “Giving the motel more information will make us more likely to accept your booking request.” Monique hands the application back to the receptionist, who takes out a worn Polaroid camera, snaps a quick picture of her, and tapes it to the application. He disappears behind the desk and quickly reemerges.
“No can do,” he says. “Owner tells me not to rent you a room.” [...]