More tales from an Innkeeper's crypt
Confrontation with country folk
Every once in a while we have to deal with some sort of confrontation at the Aleksander House. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it's memorable. Occasionally, a guest doesn't show up, or decides for some reason or another that he or she doesn't want to stay. You'd be surprised at the people, who live in the country, who are afraid of the city. When they arrive and see that I have an "in-town" bed and breakfast situated only 12 blocks form the downtown area, some of them freak out. I don't know what they think is going to happen; our neighborhood is very safe. I've been living here for fifteen years alone and have had no mishaps. But it is the city.
It's been years since someone arrived at my Inn and decided they didn't want to stay. But occasionally it happens, like the day a young couple strolled up the front walkway to my Inn and rang the bell. It was a few years ago on a lovely spring day, so I was in the garden. By the time I got to the front door, they were banging on it loudly. In retrospect, I guess they were afraid that, while they were standing on the front porch, one of the local "city people" would snatch them up and whisk them away or grab their belongings or whatever.
Anyhow, when I opened the door, they both had weird looks on their faces; she more than he. "My wife doesn't want to stay here" the young man said timidly. I told them to come on in. I thought, if I showed them around my beautiful Inn and assured them there was no problem and the neighborhood was safe, they would be just fine. The woman appeared a little shy and frightened, as her eyes darted quickly around the room. "We live in the country", she said. "And I'm not used to the city." They had made the reservation on-line a couple of weeks before and should have been aware that my Inn was in the city; it says so right on my website.
As it happened, the couple, actually it
was more the woman than her husband, would not leave my house. As we
were discussing the situation I mentioned the fact that I would have
to charge them for the night. That revelation set the women off. She no
longer appeared shy and reticent. In fact, her face took on a bright
red hue and her body went into action. Then, when I told her that I'd
sent her a confirmation letter stating that "...You must cancel at
least 72 hours prior to arrival time to avoid charges on one night's
stay of 50% of the total cost." she started going into anger mode.
An argument ensued and her anger began to escalate. At this point, she was right up in my face, yelling at the top of her lungs. She would back off and then kind of lunge at me. I thought she was going to hit me at one point. She was obviously trying to intimidate me, but I didn't back down. It was then that I asked the two of them to leave. But she stated she would not leave until I told her they would not be charged for the night. I said I had already put the charges through.
Well, she went absolutely ballistic and started calling me all kinds of names; screaming "Gimme my money back! Gimme my money back! I'm not leaving until you do!" I still didn't back down, although I was thinking about it, seriously. I asked them again to leave, but she refused. In fact, she announced that she was going to call the police on me. All this time, her husband never said a word.
When the police knocked on the door, I calmly ushered them in and stood back to see just how they were going to handle the situation. My totally out of control guest rushed up and started rattling off her sad tale, making me look like a crook and a shrew. I tried to get a word or two in in my defense, but soon the room was teeming with accusations.
Finally the police separated us and listened to both of our stories. They told her that they couldn't force me to give her money back, and that they couldn't arrest me like she wanted them to. Then, they informed her that she would have to "leave the premises". I breathed a sigh of relief as the door slammed shut and hoped I would never have to go through that again
Life in the city
I have always lived right in the city. I love the city. I was born in Detroit and
lived in Dallas, San Francisco and Chicago. To me the city is exciting. That's where everything is
happening. I know a lot of bad things happen in our society nowadays, but I'm not a fearful person, and to live in constant fear in your own country, or state, or city must be
a terrible thing. I guess that's why people have guns.
Granted, we live in a culture of fear and mistrust and warnings. Just watch a TV ad for any prescription drug. The side effects may include dizziness, nausea, fainting, blurred vision, hemorrhaging, numbness, and in some cases, death. That sounds worse than what I'm trying to cure. Security cameras are everywhere. Many of us now regard strangers with automatic suspicion.
Even I succumb to a supposed threat
now and then. The
other day, as I was waiting to pick up my daughter, a man approached my
car. Instinctively, I locked the doors. He only wanted to know where
Main street was. But, I'm a woman alone. Maybe he was a potential
attacker or rapist. This is what goes through my head in some
situations. But this could happen in the country too, not just in the
Too many of us have isolated ourselves, lonely and disconnected out of fear. British psychologist Daniel Freeman, who just published a book about paranoia, has argued that living in a big city means "many ambiguous events can lead to paranoid thoughts" because "we constantly make snap judgments based on limited information." (like I did with the car situation) And that is why, I have decided I will not give into paranoia; that living in the city, which I prefer, isn't any more dangerous than other areas of the country. I could, of course, hold myself up somewhere where no one can find me. Then, again, you can never be sure. We just have to make a decision to trust that everything will be alright.
Now, make no mistake, I'm
not telling anyone where to live or how to live. If they want to live
in constant fear, that's their decision to make. And, of course, there
are plenty of people who will disagree with me. And, that's okay too.
But I couldn't do it. Life is too short not to take advantage of
everything it has to offer. And a lot of what it has to offer is in the
city: wonderful art and culture, community, theater, fabulous restaurants, interesting people and so much more. Yeah, I know what you're thinking..................but I guess I'm just a city gal.