When you’re traveling – both in the real world and its virtual counterpart – and you meet new people, have you ever stopped to consider just how “new” those people really are?
It was nine o’clock on a Saturday (cue the Billy Joel), when our paths crossed; she was a young (fresh-out-of-the-box young, from the looks of it), petite, scantily-clad, crimson-haired waif with her whole life ahead of her – and I… was not.
Her uncontrollable sobs reached my desk before she did. Her plea was expressed through ragged gasps and attempts to wipe the torrent of tears emerging from her puffy eyes.
“Do… you know… how I can get back to Hamilton… at this time of night?”
Admittedly, after nearly two decades in the hospitality trenches, it takes a lot to throw me… but she managed it with her genuine sad sack routine. I had seen her earlier the day before and so I had a rough idea what had transpired.
- She checked-in Friday night with a much older gentleman who was no gentleman at all.
- Her body language told the tale; her traveling companion was a virtual stranger – but she was smitten.
Apparently though, her smitten phase had passed.
ME: I’m assuming you had a falling out with your boyfriend and you want to get back home rather than work it out?
HER: Dave’s… not my boyfriend… he’s just some asshole I met online that I’ve been banging on a whim!
ME: A whim? Is that like a futon?
Yes, I was most likely throwing myself on a landmine, but you know me…
HER: (After a few excruciatingly-slow-passing seconds of pondering.) You’re funny! But I don’t want to laugh now… I feel terrible!
But laugh she did.
And as her body flailed from laughter, snot flew everywhere.
Seriously, it was all over.
I fetched her a towel. (I couldn’t find a drop-cloth that was big enough.) But my lame attempt at humor had done the trick; she began to perk up.
HER: But I still don’t know what to do! I can’t stay with that asshole… he made a video of me sucking his [CENSORED, BECAUSE MY DAUGHTER SOMETIMES READS THIS BLOG! USE YOUR IMAGINATION] and he uploaded it to an amateur porn site! Dave’s not even his real name! I checked his wallet… I think he’s married… with grandkids, even! Can you believe that?
ME: Actually, I can. But only because I’ve been doing this job for almost twenty years.
HER: TWENTY YEARS? And I thought my life sucked!
It was my turn to erupt with laughter – but not snot.
And now we’ve reached the point of this little tale. (Granted, most of my posts contain no actual points of relevance but every once in a while I get lucky.)
It is amazing/disheartening to see the schemes the human mind can concoct when faced with the anonymity – perceived or real – travel affords it. People often feel empowered when they leave their usual environment but unfortunately that feeling of power can have a dark result: Some travelers embrace their inner darkness and give it free reign.
“Dave” obviously presented himself as a “good guy”, one who, in his virtual persona, wouldn’t misrepresent himself to a sweet young girl in order to “raid her candy cupboard” and broadcast it on the internet. But that’s not who he was, apparently.
Fortunately, when the young lady in question accepted that her “new not-a-boyfriend” actually wasn’t real at all (“Dave” invented him), she wiped her nose (repeatedly), regained her composure and contacted a friend who drove down to Niagara Falls to rescue her from her ill-fated liaison.
Friends are the best. Everyone needs at least one, though many are better.
Incidentally, I wonder what the lovely Alicia Witt would think of my writing?
See you in the lobby, kids…