I got back from Dallas last Friday. I was there for most of the week. It was as painfully cold there as it was the last time I was in New Jersey and New York, which was also in December. It was so cold it hurt.
The very first night I was there the oddest thing happened. I was sitting in the chair in my motel room catching up on cable TV (I don’t have it at home) and I heard someone knocking on the door of the room next to mine. It stopped and I forgot about it. About five minutes later I heard it again. After another five or so minutes it started again. It was never a loud pounding. Each time it was a quiet, polite knock. I thought nothing of it. That is until the knock came to my own door.
This was a motel not a hotel. You don’t go through a lobby and take an elevator to your floor to get to your room. Here, the other side of your door is a parking lot next to a freeway. Getting a knock on your door at 9:00 PM usually only means trouble.
Instead of shouting “Who is it? What do you want?” I crept up to the door and looked through the peephole. I was surprised to see a girl standing outside. My defenses lowered somewhat and even though I know that doesn’t automatically make it safe, I still opened the door. Slightly. No one barged in so I stuck my head out and looked to the left and right. It was just her. No one else.
She said she was supposed to meet someone in the room next to me but he wasn’t there. Then she started telling me a very confusing story about being locked out of where she was staying and having all her belongings thrown into a dumpster then getting stood up for a ride to the bus station so she could get back to Florida to get her Pomeranian and go home. Or something like that. She was stranded, out of money, without a ride anywhere and she was on foot (in sandals) with what was left of her possessions all crammed in a carry-on bag. She asked if she could sit in my room to warm up until her friend next door got back. The girl was shivering. I let her in. I didn’t want to but I knew I had to.
As soon as she got in she thanked me profusely then took off her coat, pulled a chair over to the heater and leaned over it, almost on it. After she thawed out she sat up and started talking and talking and talking. It was obvious that she was a serious party girl. Her mannerisms were that of a crack smoker. In fact, I think she was coming down off of a two day banger. Her poor eyelids looked like they were starting to get too heavy to hold up but she managed to keep them open.
I was so uncomfortable with her in my room. I just wanted to watch some cable and go to bed in an hour or so. I had a hard day ahead of me and the last thing I needed was a stranded, broke and desperate stranger hanging out with me in a room my company was paying for. She was actually pleasant to be around and very good looking. Although she did ramble on about her troubles at first, she spent the the last hour or so asking me everything she could think of about me and my life and seemed genuinely interested. I should have caught on then but I just wanted to be alone and I was too busy worrying that this “friend” next door wasn’t going to be returning to his room anytime soon, if at all, and how I was going to eventually explain to this poor girl that I needed her to leave.
She had an address book and was calling everyone in Dallas she knew to see if they could pick her up and take her to the bus station. Or at least if she could spend the night. She was very apologetic the whole time. She was as uncomfortable being there as I was having her in there. Every phone call she made, and you would be surprised how many there were, ended with a sorrowful “OK . . . Bye.” Sometimes she would go through her bag, facing away from me and I would hear her sniffle. She kept saying how she felt like such a burden on everyone. I am a very soft-hearted guy and this sort of broke my heart.
Eventually, she ran out of options. There were no more numbers in her book. She asked if she could stay a little longer in case her friend next door showed up. How could I say no? We watched COPS, commented on the people and chatted casually during the commercials. I could see the gears turning in her head. She was about at the end of her rope and never stopped thinking about how she could get back to Florida.
After awhile, she leaned forward and said “I really need to go . . . But we could do something though.”
I didn’t know what she meant but I told her that I couldn’t stay up much longer because I had to get up early in the morning.
Her response: (motioning toward bed) ” No, I know . . . as soon as we’re done I’ll be on my way (motioning toward door). I’ve got a condom . . . ”
I understood now. Loud and clear. She wanted to trade sex for money.
I wasn’t shocked but I was surprised. I should have seen it coming. I simply told her that I was flat-broke too and the only reason I was making it through the week was because all my expenses are covered by my company when I travel, which was true. Being flat-broke at the time was not. I had a 20 dollar bill in my wallet which I hid deep in my own bag when she was in the bathroom. I could never take advantage of someone like that. Ever. I was running out of money myself and I needed that bill for my daughter when I got back home. I would be paid Friday but I needed it for Thursday (when I thought I would be home).
She eventually got her belongings together, put her coat on and headed out the door. Before she pulled the door closed she looked at me, thanked me again and said some really nice things about me which also surprised me. I wished her luck and told her that things would only get better. She then walked off into the cold with apparently nowhere in particular to go. I went to bed and fell asleep worrying about her.
The next day I saw that I had a deposit in one of my bank accounts. I could have given her that twenty. I could have given her my shoes. I feel like such an asshole.