Three stacked redheads at the end of any bar will tend to get noticed and I certainly took note of them as I passed on my way to the wash closet. We shared outlier positions for different reasons – three redheads are as common an occurrence as me at this particular dive bar that has none of the dive bar charms of my usual haunts.
An hour or so later I stepped out for some air and one of the three followed me to the sidewalk.
“Can I bum a cigarette” Morgan asked with a smile.
“Of course” I replied while pulling a brushed silver cigarette case from the breast pocket of my suit.
“Oh, so fancy, you make me feel under-dressed or something” she mocked.
“Well if we’re gonna kill ourselves we might as well do it with some style.”
“Ha, indeed… you ever stop a bullet with that thing?”
“I never would have thought you old enough to make a Johnny Dangerously reference” I fired back with more than a bit of a laugh.
“Are you kidding me? That was the movie I went to on my first date!” Morgan exclaimed with a big smile.
Just as she was telling me about the teenager who tried to feel her up in the theater, Morgan’s sister came outside. She too bummed a smoke. Introductions were made, a couple of laughs shared, and maybe a passing puppy or two got petted. At some point, they mentioned the sibling debate about a drive back to Richmond because they couldn’t find a hotel room.
“We really want to stay another night, but, we called everywhere; they’re all sold out” Tracy said.
“If you really want a hotel room, I’d be happy to make a few calls for you – I have a couple of connections in that business.
I made four calls before we went back inside because I needed to relieve myself again. “I haven’t given up; there are still a couple of chits in my pocket. I’ll come find you when I find you all a room.”
As I was washing my hands, an old friend came through with a room and at the “friends and family” rate too. Leaving the restroom, I passed Morgan and Tracy on their way into the ladies room. I gave them the good news and told them that I would scribble down all of the information for them by the time they returned to the bar.
A couple of minutes later I was transcribing the hotel’s address, phone number, and the manager’s name when I felt a tap on my shoulder.
“Are you the guy that just offered those women a hotel room?” a tallish woman queried without introduction.
“Pardon me” I replied even though I had heard her quite clearly.
“Did you just offer those ladies a hotel room?” the tallish woman repeated still without introduction and two degrees more sharply than acceptable in polite society.
I stood up – an instinctual response to a power move so I could meet her gaze at eye level – before responding “You’re just a bit misinformed, I offered to make some phone calls to try to find them a room; but more importantly how does this concern you?”
“I’m the manager here and this whole thing feels kinda skeevy.”
A quiet smile is the surest sign that I am really angry. Through that slight smile, I just excused myself and walked right by the tallish woman towards Morgan, Tracy, and their oldest sister who I didn’t meet. I gave them all of the information for their hotel. I took one more deep breath before turning my attention back to the manager who curiously was still standing by my empty bar seat.
“Ya know, I’ve done your job, and your boss’s job too; and now I get paid a lot of money to tell people in your position how to do your job. So I appreciate the fact that you take the safety of your guests seriously. And I know you work in this popped-collar Georgetown bar where hordes of frat boys descend every weekend night with roofies in the pocket and bad ideas on the brain. But I am not one of ‘em, I don’t look like one of ‘em and even if I did you don’t talk to your guests like that. I don’t appreciate your attitude, your condescension, or any part of the way you approached me. Now, you’re going to bring me my tab, and while you do that I want you to think about whether you owe me an apology. The short answer is yes, because I’m industry and know how badly you just screwed the pooch, but more importantly you should think about whether you owe me an apology just because I am some random guy who walked into your bar looking for a burger and a beer, and you treated me like shit for no good reason.”