Back in 1998 or 1999–I’ve wiped the exact dates from my memory–I, along with two colleagues, was sent on a road trip across the state by my current employer. Our task? To document existing business rules/models at the county level for a state agency.
This road trip took place over 18 weeks–every other week we would fly, or more usually, drive, to another location in Florida, some of them more cosmopolitan than others. Driving was interesting. Once, we got into an accident. A few other times, my colleague the driver would see a desired location, like a Chinese restaurant, and decide, although three lanes over and only 15 feet from the entrance to the place, in heavy traffic, to just barrel over two lanes of screeching, honking traffic to get to said restaurant. I thought we were all going to die. Another hilarious episode resulted when our colleague’s faulty instructions to a watch repair store (his watch batteries had expired) led us right into the middle of a derelict crack house neighborhood with dozens of white/black/hispanic men sitting on their porches in the middle of the day watching us drive by kind of suspiciously…There was also the care-free episode in Chili’s when I found vast quantities of what appeared to be tinsel in my grilled chicken and one of my colleagues found what at first appeared to be a shredded condom in his Caesar salad, but was later identified (thank goodness) as something at least a little more sanitary, made of plastic. Then, to return to our plastics theme, on the way to the airport, a plastic bag got caught in one of the wheels and I suddenly saw smoke rising–had no idea it was just a plastic bag burning from the friction–and thought the $*%&$#&!! car was on fire…
Throw in a hotel from hell in Sebring, Florida (thousands of mosquitos *inside*; moist, sweating, ectoplasmic walls; corridors on the second floor built with such low ceilings I had to stoop–what? they only cater to $%*!! midgets?), the car accident we witnessed in St. Petersburg during which the one guy decided to beat the living daylights out of the other guy, and the 8th trip (to where? I can’t even remember at this point…) where one colleague lost the crown on one of his teeth and the other got a 103 degree fever and, yes, it was what you might expect: an absolute laugh riot.
But the piece de resistance (and I’d long since given up putting up any resistance–if we’d had a 10th meeting out of town, monkeys could have flown out of my colleague’s butt during the sessions and I wouldn’t have even blinked, just calmly writing down in the minutes, “Then a flock of flying monkeys entered the room by way of my colleague’s ass.”) occurred on our Fort Myers trip/experience.
The hotel we were staying at had a computer room with a printer so rather than lug our printer down with us, I was going to use the hotel facilities. I went down there with my disk and the glass door to the room was shut and some huge, 450 lb (I kid you not) 6 foot 5 guy with a shaved head and an earring was using it. All he needed was a bandana, a parrot, and a pegleg to be a pirate (or to be a great big pile of pudding with a bandana, parrot, and pegleg on top of it).
So he comes out and as he passes me in the doorway I see he has shut down the computer and I’m going to have to reboot–which is not good. I’ve got a deadline. I don’t have the time.
So I just kind of under my breath, looking at the screen, said, “No!”
The guy immediately turns around and says to me, “Are you cursing me? Are you cursing me?” His face is all red and his eyes are wild. I have no idea what he’s talking about, but about the time I say “What are you talking about?” he has begun a little dialogue with himself that goes a little like this:
He1: You shouldn’t take this kind of bullshit.
He2: I know–you don’t have to take this.
He3: Yeah–who does he think he is.
He4: Show him what you can do, Stan.
Which is scarier than his anger, frankly. So I tell him of course I wasn’t cursing him–that I just said “no” to the computer. He says a few more things to me and to himself and stalks off.
I sit down, a little out of sorts, and turn on the computer again and start figuring out how to print on their crappy equipment…when he comes back in again!!!!!!! This time the conversation goes something like this:
He (to himself): Show him what you can do, Stan.
He: I can show you your blood on the floor, you punk.
Me: Why? Why do you want to show me my blood on the floor? (a little panicked)
He: You want a piece of me? Because we can go right now. Right now. I’d like nothing better than to see your blood on the floor.
Me: I don’t understand what you’re talking about.
He (to himself): He thinks you’re stupid. He thinks you’re a freak.
Me: Are you okay?
He: So come on–are we going to go? Are we going to go…
…and then he totally freaks me out by saying this:
“FROGGY–ARE WE GOING TO GO? FROGGY–I WANT YOUR BLOOD”.
Now I’m sensing something seriously weird–I mean, how the hell does he get the frog connection? How does he know I collect and write about frogs? He doesn’t know me from Adam.
So I’m severely rattled now and I’m looking around for something to hit him with because he’s balling up his fists. There’s nothing but the printer, so I kind of put my hands on it, I guess thinking I’d rip it off the desk and throw it at him. He, predictably, says again, “I’ll see your blood on the floor.”
Meanwhile, I’m wondering if printing out the meeting minutes is really worth my life. So I say:
Me: Should we call in security and ask them what they think of this idea?
He: Are you the manager?
Me: No. I’m not the manager. I just think we should go out into the lobby and ask security what they think of your idea.
He: Do you own the hotel?
Me: NO! I don’t own the hotel. But let’s go out in the lobby and ask them about this. Get it sorted out.
He (to himself): He’s just making fun of you. He’s going to get you.
Me: I’m going to get up now and we can go out in the lobby.
He: I’m still going to see your blood on the floor.
And then he leaves. One of my colleagues comes down to help out and wonders why I’ve locked the computer room door. I quickly let her in and lock the door, still trying to print the minutes for the next meeting. I tell her the story and she doesn’t believe me! She thinks I’m making it up! (Imagine that.) So, then the guy comes back again, but can’t get in because the door is locked…so at least I’m believed now…but we see the guy talking to the hotel clerk in the lobby. Then he leaves.
Then the hotel clerk comes in and says that the guy told her that I kicked him out of the computer room and told him I was the manager and I would call security on him…We explained our side of the story–”He’s crazy…”–and that was the end of it. We never saw him again…
Needless to say, we all went out that night and had a few stiff drinks…