My friends at the Silver Spring Penguin have a great recap of the complaint filed against a pair of hot-sheet motels in Silver Spring that truly seemed to be dens of iniquity. We’re talking rampant prostitution, drug overdoses and sales at a Days Inn and a Travelodge.

One commenter says they “feel bad for out-of-towners who book rooms there not knowing any better.” I can relate. It happened to me once.

I was on doing some lobbying work a decade ago for the electric bicycle industry. Yes, there was such a thing. I was trying to convince the New Jersey legislature to create a new category of vehicle — an “electric assisted bicycle.”

I was young, had no capital, and this was my first business. I needed to save every dime. So I booked what I thought would be an inexpensive chain hotel in Trenton. Well, it sure was inexpensive — but it was a Den of Iniquity. Bulletproof glass in the lobby to protect the desk clerk. Cigarette burns all over the bedspread, with a dried pizza crust sitting in the middle in case I needed a snack.

I did not even unpack. I went downstairs to get my money back, which of course did not happen and I left anyway. As I left, I saw people all around the courtyard, leaning over the railing and giving me the fisheye, like it was a prison wing.

Since then, I have learned to be careful when staying in urban environments. Trying to save a buck can backfire! Even so, that was money that, at the time, I could not afford to throw away.

How did the trip go? Well, I was shaken down for campaign contributions to a staffer who was running for city council and my proposed bill never went anywhere. (I was successful in Washington, Oregon, and California though, so there.)