Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Story of Angry Man

I first met Angry Man in a hotel lobby. The hotel, I have long since forgotten. Angry Man, on the other hand, has become part of my life.  It was twenty years ago. But I can still see the scene unfold.

The hotel lobby is small and doubles as a breakfast room. Coffee is at one end, the hotel counter is at the other. Three or four of us are drinking the last of our morning coffee before heading to our respective business meetings.

The doors to the hotel entrance fly open and in stomps Angry Man. He is large, heavy set, and wears a crumpled business suit. His tie is loosened and the top two buttons on his shirt are undone. His neck is dripping with sweat. His face is swollen and red. My coffee cup trembles on the table as he stamps to the front desk.

"Give me a phone, now!" He demands of the front clerk. "And get me the phone number of Hertz!"

"Hertz?" the front clerk asks, "the car rental Hertz?"

"Of course, the car rental Hertz! What Hertz do you think I am talking about? Get me the phone number now!" The clerk fumbles through his phone book and gives Angry Man the phone number. Angry Man pounds the phone. The counter shakes under his assault.

By now, we are all listening to Angry Man. We have no choice.

Angry Man is shouting into the telephone. "Your security system is malfunctioning. My car door won't open. Get my car open now! I am late for a very important meeting!"

A few moments of silence follow. Very few. "Of course it is the security system! There is a sticker on the window. It says, 'Warning: Security System In Force. Car Will Not Start Without Key.' Well guess what? I have the key and it still won't start! The door won't even open!"

Surprisingly, I understand what Angry Man means. I also have a car from Hertz and I had noticed that same sticker on my window. At the time the wording seemed odd to me. Now my interest is piqued. Whatever had happened to Angry Man, I am thinking, could happen to me.

Angry Man is shouting in the phone again. "What difference does it make? It is a gray Chevy Malibu. I just rented it yesterday. This is the first time I have used the key. Stop asking stupid questions and DO SOMETHING!"

This sounds familiar, I think. Then it occurs to me. I also have a gray Chevy Malibu, also from Hertz. An interesting coincidence.Then I understand.

I walk over to Angry Man. "Excuse me," I say. His eyes spit fire. "What do YOU want?"

"I think," I say to Angry Man, "that you are trying to get into MY car."

Angry Man looks at his key and looks at me like we are twins spawned from hell. He is so furious  he just sputters. But in some dim recess of his brain, he realizes I am right. 

Angry Man slams down the phone and staggers out of the hotel. He says not a word to either the front desk clerk or me. But a minute later, a gray Chevy Malibu screeches out of the parking lot narrowly missing a frightened driver.

Yes, this was twenty years ago. I would like to say that that was the last time I met Angry Man. Unfortunately, that would not be true. I have met him many times since then in many different people. And more often than I would like to admit, I have met a bit of Angry Man in me.

This blog is copyright 2010 by Roger Sessions. Please do not reprint without permission.

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