Desperation and Chance Met
by Dale Angel
A chronically uninvited acquaintance visits my house often. When I see him coming and wanting to move in again, I get panicky. You’d think with this familiarity, I wouldn’t get so hysterical. His name is Mr. Unemployment and we have spent too much time together. This intimacy hasn’t diminished or quelled my fear.
I was trying to out run him. My foot plunged to the ankle on the accelerator, forcing my car into overdrive as it coughed and wheezed. It is addicted to oil with an appetite I can’t satisfy, and the last tires I got off the used rack feels like one is square.
Desperation and chance met, and I got a job at the Inn. One of the perks: you got to wear a bright red jacket to represent the company. You’ve seen these jackets before, the same kind little monkeys on a string wear that do tricks.
I paraded in mine.
Besides the front desk I was to answer the phone and route calls. My desperation convinced them I knew what I was doing. They took the chance I might.
When the lights flashed I was supposed to place the incoming calls to in-house people, except the lights all lit up at the same time. It looked like a casino. I answered in my modulated voice. Someone from the British Isles wanted room 14; it was busy…..What to do? I let him loose somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, explaining that we were experiencing international problems.
Once I had Hong Kong and I almost matched him, but my hand slipped. He got put out somewhere near Guam.
The man from the Philippines asked for room 55. I thought he said 65. Much of his frustrations and anger was lost in my inability to really appreciate his profanity. Language was a problem, but I understood hysteria.
I got better on the phones. When I made contact, I was inflated with success. In this euphoria, I got a lesson in Big Business.
At morning showers, all the guests got cold water. The Inn was prepared for this. Ordinary business men went wild. They surged in mass, in their pajamas wearing shaving crème and toothpaste with their hair standing on end.
The phones lights were all blinking at once. The staff coolly explained that as a prank, vandals had shut off the power in the night. That was the standard reply. There were others as good. Once a man started coming over the counter screaming “That’s what you said the last time I was here!” I mingled with empowering big business.
A limo drove up with an entourage of high-powered people. The leader didn’t even have to stop and register, I was impressed. The lights lit up the bar, and they used dollies to deliver liquor up to the suite.
I arrived for work the next day to find the staff looking for little pieces of paper, anything to show who it was that was there. He was an early riser and had left with no forwarding address.
I had troubles of my own: my roommate announced she was getting married and moving, I asked “May I please keep the apartment?”
She said “no’’.
I threw my stuff in the car. I couldn’t shut it off; it wouldn’t start again. I filled the tank with the engine running, gunning the motor. I headed for the freeway south. You could see the Inn is self-destructing. Desperation and Chance was a failed relationship and Mr. Unemployment wants to move in again.
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