I had just finished my “free” breakfast of home fries, fruit, sausage links, and a biscuit. It was a Sunday morning and the lobby of the hotel was bustling. Boston, country, and British accents wafted around me as I wiped the corners of my mouth with a small paper napkin. I put my fork down on my plate and hoisted the baby onto my lap where he bounced, gums bared, and watched the crowd.
An old man’s voice rose above the din. “Sit down,” he pleaded, sounding annoyed. “Sit down.”
But his wife didn’t sit down. “Excuse me, everyone,” she said. “Today is my husband’s birthday and I would like it if you all sang ‘happy birthday’ to him. His name is Delbert.”
And the people, gathered there in an interstate-adjacent hotel lobby, sang Delbert “happy birthday.” And then clapped.
It took me a full two hours to decide that the toilet was, in fact, not flushing properly. I was in denial for a while and thought maybe it was just a slow-flushing, water-saving model, the kind that fills up to the rim of the bowl and then empties its contents over the next hour. As if there is such a thing. (Is there?)
I realized with chagrin that what I had done was dump the biodegradable liner that held the poop into the toilet along with a handful of wipes, which I meant to drop into the wastebin. But I had already flushed the toilet so the damage was done. Clogged. I looked around for a plunger but this hotel was too classy to give me my own toilet-sucking tools. And now if I wanted anything to get through the bowl and down the pipe — and I mean anything — I was going to have to call the front desk and have someone come and plunge my toilet for me.
So I got the baby ready and I got me ready and just before we stepped out into the sizzling sun, I pressed 0 on the more modern-looking of the room’s two phones. When the front desk clerk answered — this time a youngish black woman — I tried to phrase my problem with as much classiness as I could muster. “I don’t think our toilet is flushing properly.” (I can tell this by how there is shit floating in it after three flushes.)
The clerk did not have much of a pokerface. “Ohhhhhh. Ewwwwww. Ummmmmm. Okay?” I instantly felt disgusting. Obviously I and my baby are the only humans who shit. How embarrassing.
“We’re leaving the room now so you guys can come in whenever and do whatever you need to do.” She was quiet.
When we came back that night, the toilet was sparkling and it flushed like you wouldn’t believe.
Someone called my phone. A number I didn’t recognize. They didn’t leave a message. I’ve been getting a lot of those lately and that has the cumulative effect of pissing me off. Don’t just keep calling back; leave me a motherfucking message. So I called the number back. My phone told me I was dialing Helena, Ark.
The lady who picked up had a Dirty South drawl I could barely decipher.
“Hi, you called me? Your number was on my phone? I was just returning your call.”
She acted offended, like I was intruding in her life, in her privacy.
“WHO DIS?!” she demanded.
“I’m Lindsey. YOU called ME.”
Then she slurred something barely intelligible that more or less told me to fuck off, that she had the wrong number.
“Okay, thanks!” I chirped. I waited until I knew we had hung up before I called her the C-word.