"I always buy the little shells, cause those are the babies!"
-Random Gift Shop Customer, March 2012
Oopsie Once, Shame On You
I used to work the night shift at a local hotel, Among the coterie of drunks, bums, crazies and weirdos one finds trolling the grounds of a hotel parking lot in the wee hours, there's also the occasional ne'er do well.
One such fellow happened to be a guest of ours who showed up in the lobby very late, and very intoxified, one night.
"Do you have a Band-Aid or something?" He asked.
Diligent employee that I sometimes am, I checked the "emergency kit" hidden in the laundry room. It was vacant of small adhesive bandages (so states your narrator to avoid using a corporate brand name more than once in the same story). The only stuff remaining -aside from tongue depressors, cotton swabs, or generic "aspirin-type caplets" - was a roll of white medical tape and a few rolls of industrial strength gauze.
I returned to the lobby to let the guy know that he was out of luck.
"Thanks for checking," he stated, "they fixed this for me at the hospital earlier, but then I accidentally messed with it."
As he said this, he lifted his hand to reveal a very bloody and gore infused thumb which, yes, looked like it had been stitched up at some point, but was now threatening to erupt across the room in which I stood.
"Hold on a sec!" was my reply. I brought him the tape and the entirety of the gauze.
"Maybe this will help." I said as I handed him the Florence Nightingale Starter Pack.
He thanked me and groggily exited the lobby, returning to his room. I heard nothing more from the man himself. However, the next 2 hours produced at least a half dozen phone calls through the lobby phone - folks trying to reach the room of El Gauzo. Diligent, yet skeptical, employee that I sometimes am, I put them through.
He soon received a few in-person visits. As that guest had booked the room for a few days, I figured he was a typical social night owl - a breed that proliferates this section of the South. It was not uncommon for guests of the hotel to randomly have little private parties in their rooms - often times old friends coming back to relax and chill out after a night on the town.
When I returned to work the next week, I found out how completely naive I had been. I was informed by my manager that our guest was more deviant than his sloppily grotesque request had led me to believe.
The kid had booked the room by phone, using his mother's credit card - but told the attendant at check-in that he would be paying cash for the room upon his leave. When check-out day came, he couldn't pay, not enough bills in the wallet. Normally, this would be no problem, we'd just charge the card on file. The kid panicked at this, desperately making a plea bargain with the manager. Given another day (still booked in the room), he would have the money and be ready to check out on time - so long as we didn't charge poor Mama for the room.
Mama ended up getting a phone call anyway, but not from us. That call was from the cops. Hours after making his morning deal with management, our guest was apprehended in his shoddy attempt to mug a tourist. Somehow, he'd managed to mishandle all the moolah he'd obtained from selling drugs out the room his mother ended up renting. The next room he'd occupy would be a lot smaller, colder, and operated by the Florida Department Of Corrections.
I'm sure the desk clerk there wasn't as friendly as I was either.
Oopsie Twice, Shame On Me
When we moved into our current house, Bess and I rented a moving truck to transport our things from one abode to another.
After assisting with a few of the heavier and awkward pieces (and no, I am not being self-referential here), Bess, our friend LoriSue, and her daughter rushed to the new house to remove the ancient dog-furred carpets and to prep the pad for the arrival of our stuff.
After loading the remainder of our clutter and accoutrement into the room on wheels, I rolled down the cargo door at the back, securing the latch with a strong piece of rope. Yes, Rope. I'd opted not to spring for a brand new padlock, as we were headed literally just over the bridge into town, a trip that even with massive gridlock bridge traffic would take all of 20 minutes, at a top speed of about 15 MPH.
I arrived at our new house safely, and met the cleaning crew. All of us were exhausted and hungry. We opted to unload the truck after loading ourselves into a car and getting a quick bite to eat (sure, we could have just ordered a pizza, but then there wouldn't be - as the late Paul Harvey is wont to say - the rest of the story).
There remained but one problem: the unlocked latch. Oh, it was a good strong rope for sure, but it could also be untied with ease, and we like all of our stuff. So, protecting the load from potential thieves was the challenge.
LoriSue, at the time, lived only a couple blocks away - on Twine street - and had a fence separating her driveway from the backyard.
"You can back-up the truck to the fence, that way no one can get to the latch," she intelligently observed.
"Awesome!" I said, "I'll be right back!"
And so, I started up the moving truck and headed over to LoriSue's house, carefully maneuvering so as to avoid the proliferation of neighborhood cars, trees, and curious squirrels dotting that particular path. I got to the house on Twine street and slowly backed into the driveway. I could easily see the fence in the rear view mirror, and gunned the engine a bit to help the truck over the driveway lip.
What I neglected to notice was the tree next to the driveway, whose branches reached over the pavement, just a few feet too short for the vehicle I was in.
With a giant SKEEERCRAAAK, the tree made it's presence known - and dropped a humongous branch across the breadth of the driveway; one end grazing the roof of the houses porch, the other end barely attached to the tree - and the middle resting comfortably on the roof of the truck, where it had made a dent at the precise center of the rear door.
I was stuck. The truck was back as far as it would go, and pulling forward would release the tree from the truck, but run the risk of crashing it through the porch.
I turned off the engine and got out to assess the situation - and to panic a little.
As I emerged, I noticed two things: One, that tree had just been involuntarily amputated of a main appendage - and Two, a trio of little ole ladies had heard the commotion and come out of their houses to give me the stink-eye. I believe one of them even commented on how long that tree had been standing there - but the conversation in my head was much louder than any on the street.
I'll eliminate most of my personal vocalizations that followed - you wouldn't want to read a massive litany of Cap-Locked profanities, anyway - but I did use my phone to call the gals awaiting my return to the other house.
"Uh, we have a big problem. I think y'all need to come over here"
Within moments, they'd arrived and helped me to plan the extrication of truck from tree. We'd have to risk the branch falling on the porch, but the truck could be removed from the driveway, then we could deal with the tree parts. Our trio of little old ladies stood in their individual doorways, watching, and probably laughing unto themselves.
I got back into the truck. With a few prayers and the repeated mumblings of "pleasepleasepleaseplease" - I pulled forward. The cracked limb fell, bounced slightly on the porch, and hit the ground - harming none of the structure, save for a few leaves and twigs scattered on patio chairs and benches. We took the truck back to the new house after surveying the damage to the tree, and made a quick phone call to LoriSue's landlord - whom was actually pretty cool about the whole deal, from what I recall.
After catching my breath, we figured we should now just unload the truck before heading for food. The only obstacle - the metallic notch in the top of the loading door. The thing wouldn't open - it had been bent closed.
We were safe. Both houses were safe. The truck was relatively safe (hours later; myself, Bess, and the kindly gent whom ran the rental depot all thanked multiple gods that we'd opted to pay for the insurance on the vehicle). As no one could break into a door that wouldn't open - we went to lunch.
Eventually, we got back and jimmied the door open enough to remove all of our things and place them in the new house. It was an agonizing ordeal, but with a relatively happy ending.
I walk around our neighborhood a lot, however, and even though it's three and a half years on - those little old ladies still look at me funny when they catch me on Twine street.
The Dispatch From Escalatorville
Z.F. Lively, Proprietor/Vehicular Arborist