Is your motel 420 Friendly?
Posted on November 16 2015
A few years ago I thought I was Sal Paradise. I packed up a backpack and went around America with just a few clothes and a copy of On The Road. I didn’t want to be one of the cliched students who find themselves at a Full Moon Party, instead, I wanted it to be dirtier. I wanted it to be rougher. And whilst following The Classic American Road Trip might be something of an older cliche, I wanted to work whenever I could and avoid going places where I’d run into other people travelling. I wanted to be amongst people who didn’t even have a passport. I wanted to find a Dean Moriarty in a forgotten small city.
I could go on talking about this time of my life for a very long time, but I won’t. Instead I want only to explain a term I learnt in a motel in Pasadena. As I was checking in I saw a big sign that said “420 FRIENDLY” and asked the guy at the desk what this meant. I’d seen this sign a few times and I was trying to find out new stories so thought the best thing to do was to ask.
The guy kind of looked like a bum, with no uniform and wild hair. He just smiled at me.
“You smoke?” he asked.
“Cigarettes, yeah,” I said. I suppose being from England I don’t admit to smoking weed to strangers straight off because you never know if it can get you in trouble.
“No, weed,” he said. And I could tell from his smile that he did. That he knew that I did. “It just means you can smoke it here.”
“What does the 420 mean?” I asked.
“That’s just the time we smoke it. I mean you can smoke it whenever, but you come asking me for a towel at 4.20 and I won’t be here.”
“What time is it now?” I asked.
“We got twenty minutes,” he said.
I always got away with a lot of stuff being English, and this guy wanted me to join him after I’d dropped my bags off. I always tried to find motels that said 420 Friendly after this point. There’s always a Dean Moriaty working in these places.