You Get What You Pay For

11 03 2012

Welcome to Cheraw. Like any Southern town...a nice place to live.

I love small towns. About 22 years ago, I was in Cheraw, South Carolina-population 5,145, to audit the safety program for a local manufacturer. It was my first trip to Cheraw and there wasn’t much of a hotel selection. As I recall, there was the Cheraw Inn, which boasted air-conditioning and color TV, and then there was a Days Inn. I chose the Days Inn. That was the first and only time I ever stayed at a Days Inn.

As dinnertime approached I decided it was time to find a place to eat. Usually, if in a town, especially a small town I’m not familiar with, I would check the yellow pages to see what was in the area. What are yellow pages, you ask. There was a day when you could find two books in any hotel room in America-the Gideon Bible and the phone book. The phone book, kiddies, was a book with an alphabetical listing of most every resident in town who had a telephone. In the back of that

Not the worst place I ever stayed.

book were pages which were yellow, thus the name yellow pages. These yellow pages listed all the businesses in the area, including restaurants. I would look to see what restaurant had the largest add or the most appealing description.

I was in the very small town of Jamestown, Kentucky once and looked in the yellow pages of a phone book which was 5 inches by 7 inches and about one-quarter inch thick. Either Jamestown was a very small town or there were a lot of unlisted numbers. There were two pages of listings for restaurants and the largest add, which was a half page, stated this place had the best home cooking in town. Well, I like home cooking so that certainly sounded appealing. But then below that, it read, “Also, bait, gas and tackle.” Not exactly Ruth’s Chris.

The Cheraw Inn

So here I was in Cheraw, looking through the meager listings of local restaurants but not seeing anything that suggested a gourmet dining experience. That takes me to plan B. Plan B is where I go to the front desk and ask for a recommendation.

Now, asking locals for a recommendation can be quite risky, especially if the local is a front desk clerk who appears to be about 18 years old. Well, I took my chances and asked this young lady the best place in town to eat. Her response was very familiar, “What kind of food are you looking for?” You mean I have a choice?

“How about a steak?” I asked.

Without hesitation she told me that the best steak in town was out at the country club. “But they’re high”, she warned me.

“That’s okay” I assured her, “how do I get there?”

So she gave me simple directions to the country club with another warning, “I’m serious” she said, “they’re high. You’ll pay 7 or 8 dollars for a steak out there.”

Even 22 years ago, seven dollars was a cheap steak and as you might expect, I had a seven dollar steak. Proof positive, you get what you pay for.

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