I have a story sitting in my head right now. I was washing dishes and listening to Death Cab for Cutie's "I will Follow you into the Dark." Excellent, melancholy song. I'm working on learning it for the uke, but it has some difficult chords. In any case, the song is only peripherally relevant. One line brings me back a few years: "illuminate the 'no's on their vacancy signs."
In the summer of 2005, I moonlighted at a motel. I have so many entertaining memories from that job. It was actually a lot of fun, and the only truly disappointing part was my meager wages.
One night, a woman stumbled into the office. She'd just driven up, but it was clear that she wasn't in any shape to be driving. She loudly exclaimed "I need my room!"
Uh, room? What room? Do you want to reserve a room?
"No, I have a room. I paid already. Where is my room? I'm in 6."
I scoured the computer for her reservation, looked through receipts, and tried asking her all sorts of questions. I couldn't find her anywhere. Maybe she was staying at Motel 6, on the other end of town? A quick call into them determined that she hadn't been there either.
"No, I paid thirty-five dollars, and I want my room. See, I have my key!"
Wait a sec, key? She pulled out an honest-to-goodness key with the number 6 on the key fob. We certainly didn't use a key, and I haven't been to a motel with a key in years. Only one place in town would a) sell a room that cheap and b) be cheap enough to still use actual keys.
A phone call there confirmed it; she was staying at the dive motel in the middle of town. I explained directions, but I'm not sure how much she really understood. All I know is that she hopped into her car and drove off.
Ever since, I've wondered about that lady (and many other kooky characters I met at this tiny motel in a tiny town). Should I have called the cops? The town itself was only two miles long; not much to hit, but if she did hit something, it wouldn't be good. Should I have put her up at our place for the night, even though she didn't pay? Was she sent to teach me a lesson, or is this just another one of those unfortunate occurrences that happen from time to time? I often think we live in a divided country that houses many lost souls that most of us rarely experience more than in passing.