MS. SWEETE
As Fate would have it this woman’s name was Sweete.
She had checked in, in the afternoon, with her cowering little
female companion and they had been in their room until
sometime in the evening when I got a phone call. The
cowering companion told me that Ms. Sweete wanted
something which we do not have—I forget the specifics,
and by the time I finish telling you this, you will too.
Whatever it was, I explained that we did not generally
provide that and, knowing me, I suggested a place where
they might go out to obtain it. Ms. Sweete took the phone
from her friend to make the demand herself, but we still did
not have what we did not have 10 seconds earlier. She said
a few foul words to me before hanging up.
So far, everything was normal.

About twenty minutes later Ms. Sweete’s meek little
companion showed up in the office door and apologized to
me for the way Ms. Sweete had treated me. I told her that
was OK, there was no reason why she should apologize for
her friend’s behavior and, when I said this, the poor woman
began to sob and shake all over. She turned pale and I had
the feeling she was going to pass out, so I asked her to
please have a seat.
“I can’t. If I’m gone too long she’s going to come looking
for me and that won’t be good. You don’t know how she
gets.”
“Oh, how does she get?”
“She gets really angry and...believe me, you don’t want to
know. I really... I really...I have to get back.”
The woman sounded completely frightened.
“Are you going to be OK?” I asked.
“Oh, sure, she uh...she just get really angry and it can get
out of control for a while, but uh...”

The woman’s lip began to tremble and then she said this,
“I’m scared to go back, but I’m even more scared not to.”
“You’re frightened by her?”
“Oh yes. I have good reason. You don’t know her temper.”
“Why are you traveling with someone you’re afraid of?” I
asked.
The poor woman broke down in tears. I comforted her as
best I could within the parameters of my employment here,
but went beyond and said, “You don’t have to stay with
someone you’re afraid of...”
She looked at me somewhat startled and left in a hurry.

About twenty minutes later Ms. Sweete called down and
asked once again for the same thing that she’d asked for
before—which we still could not provide—and, once again
I told her that perhaps she could get it at Walgreen’s or at a
corner store. She showed up at my desk less than a minute
later, a short, fat, red-faced woman with tiny little eyes, with
her trembling companion in tow.

Ms. Sweete stood in the doorway with her hands on her
hips and said, “I shoulda known. I shoulda known. Just as I
expected, some old, white asshole with a tie.”
I said nothing to that.
“You don’t have anything to say?”
“What would you have me say, Madame?”
“What would you have me say, MADAME?” she mimicked
me. “I’d have you say anything instead of that.”
I said nothing to that. I remained in enforced silence.

She said, “Are you just going to sit there staring at me, you
flaccid old prick, or are you going to say something?”
She sat down heavily across from me. “If you can’t think of
anything to say, I want to speak to somebody who can. Is
there a manager around here?”
“I am the manager at the moment.”
“There’s no one else around? No REAL manager?”
“I am the manager.”
“I want to speak to a REAL manager. A REAL manager. Is
that phrased simple enough for you to understand?”
“There’s no one else...I’m it.”
“OH, so suddenly you’re the only one around? I want to
speak to your manager!” she demanded.
“I am the manager, you can speak to me.”
“Well, then I want to speak to the owner.”
“The owner is not here.”
“Oh, suddenly there is no manager, there is no owner, all I
have to speak to is this useless old white asshole who can’t
think of anything to say but, I AM THE MANAGER, I AM THE
MANAGER...Is that it?...everybody’s gone home and left you
in charge?”
“What may I do for you?”
“You can get someone in here with some balls, that’s what
you can do for me. I want to speak to somebody who can
get something done around here.”
I said nothing.

“Oh, so now you can’t think of anything to say to that either?
Is there ANYONE around here other than you—ANYONE with
some brains, with some balls, who isn’t going to just sit there
blinking at me like a fucking idiot?”
“I’m it.”
“You’re it alright. You are the most useless piece of crap I
have ever had to deal with. You can’t answer a single
fucking question; the manager and the owner have both
mysteriously disappeared leaving some old white asshole in
charge; and HE can’t even respond to a simple question.”

I couldn’t believe any of this was real. I just sat there
looking at this disgraceful human being.

Meanwhile, Ms. Sweete’s skinny little companion cowered
behind her, standing in the doorway. She was in tears.
Sweete turned and snapped, “Is this the guy?”
The companion nodded.
“You,” she said, pointing at me, “better learn to stay the
fuck out of other people’s business.” She instructed her
companion to go back to the room and the woman fled.
“I should call the cops, that’s what I should do,” she said
running her hands over her jaw. “I should just call the
cops.”
“I’m not entirely sure what the problem is, but if you want
me to call the police, I’ll do that for you.”
“I should. I should call the fuckin’ cops.”
‘Would you like me to call them?”
“Yes. Yes, call the cops. Call the fuckin’ cops and let me
speak to them. It’ll certainly be better than sitting here and
watching you stare at me. DO IT! Call ‘em!”

So I called the police.

Naturally I suppose, they wanted to know why I had called.
It was a good question. I wasn’t quite sure myself.
“Well, I’m a desk clerk at a hotel and we have a guest here
and she asked me to call you.”
“The guest is there with you?”
“Yes.”
“What is the nature of the problem?”
“I’m not sure.”
“You’re not sure.”
“No, she asked me to call you.”
“Can I speak to the guest?’
“Sure.”
I handed the phone across to the woman.

Her side of the conversation went like this: (sweetly)
“Yes? I have no idea, Officer. We were just sitting here
talking and he said, ‘I’m gonna call the cops.’ I really have
no idea, Officer. There’s no problem that I’m aware of. As
I said, we were just sitting here and he decided he needed
to call you. No, no problem at all. I could not possibly even
guess.”
Then she extended the phone to me and said, “They want to
speak to you.”
“Yes.”
“Do you need police assistance?”
“No.”
“Then I want to advise you. Do not call here if you are not in
need of police assistance. OK?”
“Sure.”
“You sure?”
“Yes.”
“Don’t do it ever again.”

“So. Asshole,” she says to me after I hang up, “I hope
you’re happy.” And she gets up, and she walks out.

And even as she goes, I know that it is only a matter of time
before the letter arrives, and I am called into the owner’s
office. Why did I not try to make this guest feel more
welcome? Why did I not do whatever I could to accommodate
her needs?

In the letter she will say that I was rude of course, and I
guess perhaps I was.

As for calling the police, I can offer no explanation; I’m still
confused about that myself.
from
TRIAL BY GUEST,
by Henry Edward Fool
from  TRIAL BY GUEST,
by Henry Edward Fool
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