October 21, 2013

Mr. Blackout

Mr. Smith needed to be picked up and put in a limo. Simple enough, right? Except Smith was a notorious drunk; a "blackout" drunk - he would literally drink himself unconscious every time he drank, which was all the time. In fact, security had been informed to confiscate any alcohol he brought into the hotel - he was that bad. One sip and he buys a ticket to ride the alcohol express. Only he winds up shitfaced in the men's room, marinating in his pants, and misses his train. The guy was a mess and could not be trusted. He sounded suicidal to me. I get the duty to pick him up, while my partner, an amiable guy named Matt, stays in the office.

When I knock on Smith's door, there's nothing. I knock again. This time the latch turns - slow. And there's a deliberateness to the door's opening, like something out of a Frankenstein castle flick where they don't get many visitors. Smith peers out and the guy is flying high - eyes bloodshot, skin as red as a runner's, and his BO pours into the hall like a broken bottle of Stoli. Shit - somehow he snuck it in.

He numbly looks at me. I am certain he knew there was a sentient being before him and I was also sure I could have mugged, pantsed, and drawn a dick on his face with a Sharpie with no complaints. I'm also certain I could have exsanguinated and served up his blood "neat," on the rocks, thrown a tiny umbrella in and it's a party.

"Mr. Smith, my name is James, with security. I am here to-" Wordless, Smith turns like he's dog paddling through jello and I follow him in. He faces a small table of half-eaten breakfast and then faces me, like he's looking for approval. It is here he does something interesting. He turns back to the table and as if he's now realized his chance for Olympic gold is at stake, dives face first into his food. Just, wham! It's like the pin connecting his torso to his hips is suddenly removed - he folds at the waist and plows into eggs Benedict.

He hits with the force of a sack of vodka-soaked potatoes. In fact, if this guy were part of the Avengers, this would have been his superpower - drunkenly throw himself at Loki. They could have called him "Blackout," which is a pretty sweet-ass codename. Maybe there could be some rivalry between him and the team and Thor would yell, "Verily! Have at thee, Blackout!" And then proceed to tire as he tried to injure Smith's positively numb body to no avail.

Now, maybe Smith was hungry. Maybe he was doing the worst yoga technique ever - "downward facing what-the-fuck-are-you-doing" (I do not recommend it) - but whatever it was it was not healthy. The second after he plants face, he bobs up like the world's happiest buoy in a sea of gin. I let out an audible and leap to bear hug and hold him up - no good. This guy is bigger, heavier, and way drunker than me, so my control of him is about as graceful as cat sex, but without all the hissing and scratching.

As I squeeze him, he dives again - obviously unhappy with his first attempt and possibly trying for silver - and slams again into breakfast. What does this guy's face have against everyone's favorite meal? The scene was kind of like a John Woo movie - slow motion action, but instead of doves scattering it was Cinnabons and bacon strips.

I quickly reposition and get him up, but his weight settles and it's like someone throws a mattress on me. It is at this moment my partner crackles over the comm, "How's it going up there?" I quickly flash back to the RockPaperScissors we played to decide which of us would deal with Smith. It was his game, best of three - he took paper, I played rock. I realize now I should have hit him with that rock.

I stack Smith on my hip like in Judo and fumble for my mic - "Get up here!" is all I can say before Smith slides off. I drop him onto his back onto the bed. He immediately ... no immediately isn't quite right. Instantly? Directly? Whatever. He's snoring. Sawing logs. Sleeping the blissful sleep of liver failure or something.

See, this changes things. Legally, innkeepers can't put unconscious drunks into the back of a cab and yell, "adios, douchebag!" in the exhaust. Authorities look down on that. My partner arrives along with the front-desk manager - a small, and small-minded woman - and instead of doing the common sense thing, we have to have an actual conversation about whether to call paramedics. Spoiler alert - we won. But then she does something else.

Understand: this guy Smith, he's going to the hospital. As far as we know he's dying of a BAC of zero point oh-my-fucking-god. But as paramedics are carting him off, I say to Ms. Manager: I'll get his contact info and call his family to let them know he's being admitted. You would have thought I said let's draw the dick on his face. "Whoa! You can't do that!" She shakes her head, "Hotel regs. Privacy issue. We're not contacting anyone." Regs? Privacy? This guy's dignity card just expired as did his expectation for reasonable privacy after endangering his own life, lady. When you're unconscious, i.e. you're incapable of making decisions for yourself, and you're being admitted to the hospital, I'd say those are two awesome reasons to contact next of kin. But she was self-satisfyingly adamant - no calls. And I learned something that day about ethics and not being a bitch. Mostly ethics.

See, for 10, 12, 16 hours a day - everyday she worked - she was following the hotel regs. Their rules of conduct. Their version of an ethical compass. Except magnetic north was calibrated to "protect the hotel at all costs." And she was, in fact, habituating those same rules into her own psyche, her own thinking, her own behavior, no matter how awful the rules were. The hotel came first. No matter what. Not a very accurate compass if you ask me. Would she put the hotel first before her own family in this situation? If not, then how is it right to put it before Mr. Smith's family?

I looked at her. "You can sleep tonight, knowing this guy may die, and his family have zero clue?"

She didn't answer.

1 comment:

Silvi said...

I wish there was a like button for this. Excellent writing!