austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

From out of the East a stranger came, a law book in his hand

As we'd closed out the Pinball Wizard Arcade all the places to eat nearby were closed, including the Hannaford supermarket. We speculated whether we'd find a Denny's somewhere on the path to the hotel, which was back on the outskirts of Cambridge. We stopped at a Dunkin' Donuts, because after all, there was one at the next block, wherever we were. We got to our hotel, a Red Roof Inn located next to a Dunkin' Donuts, and settled in for the night.

I am not a light sleeper. I am aware of incidents from college when I slept through fireworks in the dorm hall. bunny_hugger is a light sleeper, and has sometimes been woken up by my dreaming about sleeping through fireworks in the dorm hall. So you can imagine what was going on that sometime around 3:30 I woke up to the noise of some squealing people down the hall.

For a few moments I thought it maybe would pass. It was late Saturday, stuff was going on, maybe some room party got a bit raucous, surely it wouldn't go on. It went on. Why? Maybe it was a party. A party given by very oblivious people. I put pants and shirt on, found my room key, and went out to try to figure out what the heck was going on.

At this point I had not the slightest idea what I would do when I found the noise source. The clearest idea I had in mind was that, if it was just a room party that didn't realize there were other people in the hotel, to walk up to it, to as near the center of noise as possible and then declare, ``I thought I heard something''. And improvise from there. But I supposed that starting from harmless comic would give me the best chance to get them to quiet down a couple dozen decibels, while leaving room for me to escalate if that were needed.

It was not a party. It was a group of young women screaming at a group of young men. They were not a happy bunch. I do not know exactly what the point of their contention was. Nor did I care. I decided to walk up without saying anything.

Now I need to put in another point about this. Something which doesn't come across in my writing is that I am a large man. I'm somewhere around six foot three inches. I'm bearded. With thick eyebrows. A friend recently described a picture of me as conveying the image ``Klingon military governor of Organia''. Add to that disheveled hair and a generally worn-out look because it was 3:30 am after a half-week plus of amusement park touring.

So I picked a new strategy. I would walk up to them and not say anything until I had to. Somehow, though, the appearance from nowhere of a large, angry-looking, scary-looking man reshuffled their priorities. They started asking who I was. I didn't answer. They asked what I was there for. I didn't answer. They asked if I was the manager. This surprised me; I hadn't thought of that implication. Still, I didn't answer. The guys fled. The women started apologizing and begging forgiveness. I didn't answer. Then it got weird.

The women who remained started explaining some complicated backstory about the fight that was going on. The phrase ``baby daddy'' was actually thrown in, with no trace of irony or amusement. They explained something about being from Puerto Rico and how if they were thrown out of the hotel they would lose three hundred dollars and that would ruin them. I thought about the days when three hundred dollars would have been a ruinous unexpected expense for me. I didn't answer. One of them asked if I wanted money. Would I take money? She'd give me eighty dollars if I let them stay the night. I didn't answer. A hundred dollars. I didn't answer but wondered what a worse person than me would do in this situation.

The important thing was that after a few minutes of begging me to not throw them out, the women in the room had quieted down and the men they were fighting with were gone. This was as much as I wanted, so I walked back to our room, content, after having done nothing but be present. I explained the situation to bunny_hugger. She was awestruck by my courage. I don't think it was anything. If it took anything it was just a little physical courage, which everybody has. We settled back to sleep.

For about ten minutes. Then the fighting started up again. Possibly my campaign of doing nothing but existing was not the most effective. So I dressed up again and went out to repeat my performance, possibly adding the twist of saying something. There was a guy back at the room, arguing with a different woman, and they saw me coming and asked if I was the manager, or someone sent by the hotel.

The guy ran off quickly. The woman remaining started spinning out some other complicated story which included the accusation that ``he'' had wrecked (her, her sister's, her friend's, whichever) car, and she pointed over the balcony edge to a car that was indeed in the middle of the lot. It didn't seem obviously damaged to me, but how could I tell? I didn't answer. She began to run off and raced right into the cop coming up the stairs.

Now she began explaining all of this yet again. I would have been happy to retire at that point but supposed that since a cop had seen me around the commotion I had best wait to be dismissed as ``a guy down the hall who was trying to sleep''. This took a fair time to get through, so I was away from bunny_hugger long enough she was worried but had also started to fall asleep again.

It transpired that while I was away, bunny_hugger called the front desk to complain about the commotion. They knew about it and explained the police had been called in and that was all they could do. She was satisfied with that and hung up, and does not remember actually saying ``thank you'' or ``good night'', but remember, it was getting near 4 a.m. All that settled we went to sleep.

About twenty minutes later I was woken by the beeping noise of a tow truck that, I assume, took the wrecked(?) car away.

Trivia: In 1908 the British War Office concluded there would be no strategic benefit to attacking German colonies in case of war, and there would be little point in defending British colonies from attack. Source: The Vulnerability of Empire, Charles A Kupchan.

Currently Reading: Roads To Infinity: The Mathematics Of Truth And Proof, John Stillwell.

PS: How September 2015 Treated My Mathematics Blog, which was ``not good enough for me'' and so I get all grumbly about that.

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