After last year's fiasco with the Blue Gelee, I decided not to stay at the Hyatt for the conference. I opted for the Marriott, since that's where the conference would be, anyway.
The first morning, I returned to my room for a moment about 10 AM. The door was open; the cleaning crew was there. I stepped in and called out. An oriental face popped out from around the corner in the bathroom.
"Excuse me. I need to saw your key, please."
As visions of the ads for Texas Chainsaw Massacre III danced on my ocular lids, I handed over the key. She verified the room number, smiled, thanked me, and returned to cleaning. I headed towards the phone to check for messages.
A shriek from the bathroom had me leaping back across the bed. As I ran to the door, the cleaning lady jumped imposingly in front of me, hands on her hips. Incredulously, she demanded, "what kind crazy you?"
I could only stand there with my jaw slack. "Huh?", I queried, ever the brilliant wit.
"What you mean, put in tub the drapery?"
Amazed, I walked past her. I relaxed, and smiled. It was only the shower curtain. I drew her attention to the sign at average adult eye level on the shower wall: "Please place curtain in tub before using shower". "Just following the rules," I said. I felt a bit guilty about the water all over the room, but that was hardly my fault.
"No! No! That not right!", she began. I was beginning to despair of making her understand, when we were interrupted by another person wearing the Hotel Housekeeping seal of approval. I started to explain it to her, but Ms. Broken English interrupted, and explained it all for me, including my murderous ancestors, unnatural soap usage, and nearly certain mental and emotional instability.
In walked a blonde woman, a little younger than these two, wearing natty black pants, a white blouse, a black tie, and a "Supervisor (Housekeeping)" pin. Between the accusations of the cleaning folk, I attempted to tell my story. Her initial "may I be of assistance?" smile gradually faded to a contemptuous leer, and finally to a sneer.
"Well, aren't we the regular rock and roller?", she spat. "I suppose you've peed on the TV and spilt wine all over the sheets as well?"
Beginning to feel a little peeved, I interrupted her. "Listen here, Miss Manners..."
At this point, a man in a tux walked in, with a gold name tag that identified him as "Manager (Asst.)". He was accompanied by several guests, two more housecleaning personnel, and the smell of cigarette smoke.
We went through essentially the same rigamarole, except that he was much better at showing contempt in an aloof sort of way. Just as we were getting to the shouting point, he fell silent. As did everyone else. In walked a man in his 50's, every hair in place, in a perfect Brooks Brothers 5-piece (at least) suit. The fresh carnation in his lapel, the look of awe on everyone's face, spelled MANAGER as plainly as if he had it tatooed on his forehead (which he did not). He was accompanied by two VERY large Boston policemen, each wearing enough brass on his collar to get at least halfway into the Pentagon.
We went through things again, this time without the background noise of everyone else telling the story simultaneously. He asked a couple of questions of Ms. Broken English. He smiled. I began to breathe a litle easier.
"Sir, I'm quite sorry for the apparent misunderstanding."
"No harm done," I grinned back.
"Of course not, sir. That's why we require the large deposit up front, to cover such things when our guests get a little, ah..."
I began to see red. My fists balled up. The cops moved closer, grinning ferally. It was about to get ugly. I had to get myself under control; I couldn't very well give my talk from inside the local hoosegow.
I turned away and counted quietly to 10. The room got very still. I could hear a vacuum cleaner from the floor below. Puzzled, I turned around. At first, I saw nobody - then I realized they were all bowed down on the floor, their faces touching the carpet.
In walked a skinny 30-year old with hair down to his waist, in raggedy jeans and a plain, white tee. "What's up, dude?", he asked.
Now thoroughly flummoxed, I went through the whole thing from beginning to end. His face contorted in mild anger. In succession, he kicked the Manager, the Manager (Asst.) and the Supervisor (Housekeeping). Each of them bleated, but was otherwise quiet. He then spoke softly to the two cleaning personnel. They sat up, and he spoke patiently to them in what must have been their own language. After a minute, their faces lit up, they each mouthed an "oh", and they stood, smiling like shy schoolgirls. Ms. Broken English bowed low.
"I sorry. Now I understand. Please forgive me?", she pleaded.
"Of course," I quickly responded. At this point, I was waiting for the Candid Camera crew to appear. The other cleaner bowed as well, and we all smiled at each other, like a happy sitcom ending.
The freak (the owner, as it turned out, a dropout from MIT) flashed me a peace sign and a grin. Then he got a sour look on his face, and mumbled something about a plastic society. He yanked the still bowed forms to their feet. "That's how it WORKS! That's why we put up the SIGN!", he hissed at the now ashen-faced managers. I realized the cops and guests were long since departed, although I no longer cared.
The dude with the hair ripped off the Supervisor's badge, and handed her a feather duster. He pinned her badge on the Asst, and ripped his badge off, which went to the Manager. The Manager's badge went to a VERY startled Ms. Broken English, who bowed to everybody in sight, like a well-oiled hinge flapping around.
We shook hands, he wished me a cool day, and he trucked (yes, trucked, I swear it) out into the hall. The various demoted staff slunk after him, except for the former supervisor, who, after giving me an especially nasty stare that felt like a kick in the crotch, proceeded to clean the sink with the feather duster, which solicited a few hoots from the new Manager.
Ms. Broken English smiled (shyly, yet again). Her cohort saluted and marched briskly out. I tipped her and headed towards the phone.
Last updated: 17 Aug 1994
Copyright 1990-1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.
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This copyright may be freely used, distributed and modified subject to the conditions noted above in the preceeding paragraph. Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514