Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tales of the Old Hotel: Freddie the Freeloader

Tales of the Old Hotel

Freddie the Freeloader” (for T.J.)
Strange habit I have: the worst troublemaker in the room wants to tell me his story, as I apparently understand...

After three plus months of life here at our one hundred years old-and-counting hotel, Freddie Allman’s*door sported an eviction restoration notice. At least five times since I’ve seen it, I felt a little sorry for him, on a purely human animal level, because he has lost his home, that most basic need behind food and water and rest.

“Just be wary of that one,” said Ms. Janice, holding a newly-dried pan washed in the community kitchen. “He’s dangerous. When they evict him tomorrow, that one might be loud!”

“I’ve been avoiding him, hon,” I told her. “Steering clear. Not talking. Didn’t want anything to do with his business.” Yet clearly I knew he needed a good community of people. It was a shame he could not see what he might have; Ms. Janice brings me food, O.V. hooks me up, we all do each other favors and turn this wing into a neighborhood.

Life in Freddie’s tiny room was never quiet. If it wasn’t old school rap, it was hair band rock, always just loud enough to hear in the hallway on your way to the restroom. Sometimes the door was open. I’d go down to the other bathroom just to avoid passing the door. Experience had taught me he could pop out at any minute with another request I most likely couldn’t fulfill.

There were other noises known to come from that door, and that was why I avoided him religiously. Not that closed doors meant I couldn’t feel my nerves wrack in empathy as he stayed up on speed. It’s my curse to feel the tightness and mental drain when people around me take those kinds of substances. By itself, that would’ve been reason to be a bit relieved to see him go.

The noises I refer to involve an angry friend of his standing outside the door at 4:30 am, calling him a great variety of bad names and demanding something back. For over five minutes. That was just the last such instance, maybe a week ago. I almost called it the third one, but that’s just three that weren’t between him and residents here.

Ms. Janice had an eye out for him after he came to her door wanting a cigarette. He offered her a dollar, but she said she didn’t have one to sell him. He took offense. “Here’s my damned dollar!” he yelled. “Are you too good to sell me a cigarette now?”

“What I want you to do is leave my doorway,” she retorted, “and never come back!”
So next time she does to empty garbage, he rushes up on her to say, "you and me, we've got something to settle right now! This is why no one her likes you!!" Apparently, her boyfriend then visited his door to inform him perhaps he should let her be.

Such was the residency of Freddie the Freeloader.

I took a “political affiliation” quiz and found the question, about an hour ago, asking did I feel, “some people are just born unlucky.” I pondered how that might fit into graphing me (I came out on the dot with Ghandhi). Now I’m just thinking about Freddie. It’s not like he hadn’t been better off before---he told me he was a car dealer before times got tight---but I never met another soul more miserable to live in this old hotel. Nor have I ever known anyone here to have the police at their door twice over arguments in the middle of the night.

It’s like he decided he lived in a slum now and chose to make his life there as ghetto---what he thinks is "ghetto"--- as possible. More than once I expected gunfire. More than once I thought about going to management and suggesting he be dumped. More than once my rather imposing neighbor O.V. nearly pounded his goatee down around his ankles. More than once I took up an invite to stand in his room before I saw into his drawer and knew all there was to ask.

But it’s not like I didn’t give him a chance, even though I had him pegged for an asshole from our first conversation. Once I got the window into his thinking, however, I could only say my piece and hope he’d realize it did him no favors.

The worst troublemaker in the room wants to tell me his story, as I apparently understand...though he did not think so at first.

(continues, or next! )

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