Sally spends 300 nights a year in a motel
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Sally Nordstrom spends 300 nights a year sleeping in a motel. She is not a rock star or a hooker. She is, however, an escort – but not that kind of escort.
More specifically, Nordstrom owns a business that transports oversized loads throughout the United States and Canada. The name of her business, Sally Jo's Oversized Escort Service, which she named fully aware of the double meaning, is painted on the side of her truck and often makes people think she's in a very different business.
Nordstrom, who is 60, has been driving for four years and she loves the job and the lifestyle. She doesn't mind spending so much time away from home and in motels, in part, because she always has the company of her dog, Tasha.
Because Nordstrom travels with Tasha, the pet-friendliness of the motel is the most important to her. She says about 50 percent of the motels she encounters on the road allow pet guests, but some require a non-refundable deposit. She never stays at those.
"I prefer the mom and pops over the chains," says Nordstrom. "I look for family-owned roadside motels of yesterday because the rates are usually better and they tend to be more comfortable and homey."
Nordstrom says the indie motels don't always have new beds or towels, but they always have a fridge, a coffee maker and a microwave. She prefers when there's cable television because that's something she doesn't have at home.
"The people at the mom and pop's are really nice and many know me by name," says Nordstrom. "I don't think this is what my mom and dad had in mind for me – to be known by name in cheap hotels all over the country – but I like not knowing where I'm going to be from one day to the next. I'm a gypsy at heart."
One of Nordstrom's favorite motels is outside of Alma, Kansas. She and some other truckers once showed up after the diner, attached to the motel, was closed. One of the truckers mentioned he was hungry and so the owner opened up the diner just to serve them a late dinner.
But Nordstrom has her share of creepy motel stories, too. One place, located outside of Shreveport, La., she refers to as the Bates Motel and says she will never return.
"It was so creepy, and the guy who ran it was so creepy that when I went to take a shower, I had my dog sit in the doorway of the bathroom and I showered with the curtain open," she says.
Another time, Nordstrom and a friend walked up to the door of a motel in northern Minnesota with a glass-paned door. One of the three panes was broken and at first, Nordstrom didn't think much of it, but her friend said, "Sally, that's fresh blood on the pane. There is no way I'm staying here."
As the women were walking away, someone came to the door and yelled after them to return, but they didn't.
Does she ever get lost during runs? Not usually, but there was this one night, when Nordstrom was in "God only knows, Georgia" and it was hot and sticky outside. Eager to get into an air conditioned room, Nordstrom saw the closest motel identified by her GPS was 25 miles away.
She called the motel from a truck stop and booked a room.
"I ended up on dirt roads through cotton fields," says Nordstrom. "I could just about hear the banjos playing."
The roads got more and more rugged, and Nordstrom started to get nervous and uncertain where she was going. There did not appear to be a motel anywhere in sight.
Finally, she got to a highway, turned onto it and saw her motel about a block away. She realized she was on the same major highway as the truck stop from which she had booked the room.
She had driven in a huge circle.
"I told the proprietor about the route my GPS had taken me and she said she was so sorry, she would have told me about the bad directions loaded into the GPS systems had she known I was using one," says Nordstrom. "I guess GPSs are only as good as the people who write the directions into them."
Once in a while, Nordstrom sleeps in her vehicle, a Toyota Highlander that has a bed in the back. "I really don't want to start living out of my vehicle. I don't think that's good," says Nordstrom.
Although she is always concerned about bedbugs, in her four years on the job, Nordstrom has never had a problem with them. She's heard stories, but she herself, has been lucky.
This month, Nordstrom, who lives in Riverwest but is soon moving to the town of Waubeka, is "running local," with loads from Chicago, and therefore will be a little closer to home than usual.
"I love the lifestyle and living on the road and sleeping in motels, but I'm always thrilled to be home," says Nordstrom.
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