Chapter Ten / Crazy Dave
I was in between jobs and Faith and I had an offer to help out the managers at the Sunset Motel on 12th Street in Sioux Falls on the west side of town. Even though we had two young children at the time, Faith and I thought this would be a great opportunity to earn a little money in the summer and it would be quite an adventure. So with Christy at 3 years old and Mandy just a baby, our family of four moved in for several weeks at the Sunset Motel while the managers took a well needed vacation.
The managers gave us the full tour and all of the instructions we would need for checking in new clientele and checking out people who were ready to move on. We also received instructions on how to clean the rooms. It seemed a bit overwhelming at first, since there were very many instructions for a multitude of tasks, but we were young, adventurous and clueless as to what could take place at a motel on the darker side of town.
They did give us caution regarding four young men who were staying in a trailer home which was a part of the motel. Evidently, the “roudy four” could find themselves disagreeable and would at times demand services not offered by the motel. Their volume exceeded what was appropriate for their neighbors nearby which resulted in the need to remind them to consider the time and have empathy for others around them. Since they did not always respond to the request for night time decorum, the police would often be called to settle complaints from those who were trying to get a good night's sleep.
We thought our best approach, and the managers agreed, was to stay away from any conflict if possible with these young men and hopefully there wouldn't be any struggles during our time, since they knew the managers were gone and would just very politely give us an easy time.
The first several days went incredibly smoothly. Christy enjoyed the adventures of going with me to clean the rooms and Mandy was the content baby in the care of her mother who was managing the desk when someone came by. Faith would also take care of the necessary paperwork when a person checked out.
One morning Faith received a phone call and I could hear a bit of stress in her voice. She said, “I could help you with that maybe if you would like to stop by the office.” And then there was a slight pause. And then again another stressful answer to the person on the other side of the phone. When Faith said, “If you continue to use that kind of language I will need to just put the phone down.”
I quietly asked her who she was talking to. She quickly and quietly mentioned it was someone in one of the rooms who was quite angry but she couldn't figure out exactly what he was angry about. Then she said again, “I'm sorry but I'm not understanding what you’re saying. Maybe you could call again when you calm down and then we could have more of a civil conversation and possibly I could help you with whatever your question is.”
Within about 5 minutes the door to the office flew open with such force I was surprised the glass in the door did not crack or shatter. A man with very shaggy unkept hair with a beard started screaming, “No one hangs up the phone on me.” I was not in the office, but I overheard him screaming at Faith and I started approaching the lobby.
He screamed again at Faith and said, “Where's your old man?” when I entered the lobby.
I very quietly said, “May I help you?”
He responded, “No one hangs up the phone on me! Let's go out side right now and we will settle this!”
My first impression was not to follow him outside because it really was not in my best interest to try to settle anything with this person who was in such a state of anger. And I said that we could try to help him with whatever question he had. Well there were no questions, just anger, and he insisted that I follow him outside so that we could in his words “settle things.”
I then gave him an indication that I was not planning on following through with his request and began to bring my hand toward the phone. My intention was to call the police.
“You can call the police or whoever you want,” he said, “but by the time they get here they won't be able to help much. And if they take me out I don't care cuz I don't have anything to live for anyway. It's your decision, but I'm going to go back to my room and I want to see you coming outside in ten minutes.”
I still felt the safest idea was to call the police and that is exactly what I did after our unhappy guest left the office and slammed the door again. The individual I spoke with at the emergency call center asked for my location. I described we were at the Sunset Inn on the west side of town. It seemed from the tone of the operator that this was a very familiar location and I then made the assumption that the police were often called to this area. I was informed someone would be sent. Faith and I felt a bit more secure knowing we did not have to deal with this person on our own.
I decided to call the man “Crazy Dave” since we looked up the name of the person who was in the room he had returned to. Crazy Dave after his 10-minute time came back to the hotel lobby. Unfortunately a police officer had not yet arrived. Crazy Dave again demanded I go outside with him to solve the situation which evidently was his issue with Faith hanging up the phone on him. Flashing lights approached the hotel.
“You called the police!” Crazy Dave shouted. “I don't care about the police. I'll take you out and they can take me out. I don't care.” And then the officer walked in.
This particular officer did not look very intimidating. He reminded me of a very young Barney Fife from the old Andy Griffith television show. In a very quite timid voice he said, “Is there trouble here?”
I saw that he had a gun but I wasn't confident he would know what to do with it. His timid and young appearance gave the notion this might be his first day on the job and he was sent as the “rookie” to the ever needful Sunset Inn. He may have been an expert in negotiation and might have subdued our hostile guest with no problems. My instinct told me this was not our reality and I said, “I think we’re good here, but thanks for coming.” He left. And I was left with “Crazy Dave.” Faith, myself, and Crazy Dave all stood for a moment with flashing thoughts. I’m sure Faith was questioning my decision to send the officer away. I was wondering if my decision was the best while a Bible verse continued to remind me, “A quiet answer turns away wrath.” A three second silent prayer went up, “God, please help us now.”
Loudly with tremendous excitement Crazy Dave put his hand out then shaking mine he said, “No one has ever done that for me before. We’re friends. We’re friends. Come on over to my room. Let’s be best buds.”
“I’m glad we’re friends now,” I said relieved but not wanting to go to his room. “There’s a few things I need to do so…”
“Right now. We’re friends. Come over to my room. Let’s be best buds,” he insisted.
Not wanting to ruin my new friendship, I gave in. “Faith, I’ll be back in just a bit.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
“I’ll be fine,” I said as I followed my new friend out the door.
Crazy Dave had a basement room which had long term accomodations. “I’ve been here a while,” he said. “Sit down. Do you want a beer.”
“I’m not really a beer drinker.”
“Here ya go,” he said handing me a beer.
“Dad,” I heard at the top of the steps. The door had not been closed.
“Christy, go back to Mom,” I pleaded as she walked down the steps.
“That’s great. You got kids an' everything,” said Crazy Dave. “Hey, how’s takin over this place goin? Those trailer kids bein’ good? They’re stinkers. Let’s go over there. I can make sure they are good for you guys.”
I lifted Christy to my lap hoping to keep her safe in this chaotic experience. “They’ve been great. No need to visit them for any reason.”
“We’re going over. I’m going to make sure they leave you alone.”
Without a choice in the matter, and having no desire to agitate my new found friend, up the steps we went heading over to the trailer. Faith was outside concerned for what was taking place and I headed Christy in her direction. “We’re going to the trailer,” I told her. Her response was silent but she was clearly concerned for what might take place next.
I reminded myself, “God’s got this.” And then I asked, “God, you got this?” No time for an answer. We were at the trailer.
Crazy Dave gave three loud knocks and waited for an answer.
A shirtless 19 year old opened the door holding a beer and said, “What do ya want?
Crazy Dave instructed, “You’re gonna leave these guys alone and not give ‘em any trouble.”
"What's it to you?" he said and slammed the door shut.
Crazy Dave pounded on the door, found it to be unlocked, went inside, and slammed the door shut again. I couldn’t make out the words, but between the volume of the shouting, objects crashing, and the trailer rocking back and forth, I ran to the office and called for help again. My description of the incident brought a fast result with a police car approaching within minutes. Then another officer arrived. Soon, five police cars with officers all around the trailer brought Dave out and back to his room. Dave was escorted off the property and out of town. The trailer teens never gave us a problem and the motel was very quiet the rest of our stay.
We never saw or heard of Crazy Dave again but often wondered what the rest of his life’s adventure would hold for him. “A quiet answer turns aways wrath,” may have saved us that day from injury or worse. I listened to that still voice and sent “Barney Fife” away, not knowing what the end result would be. But “God’s Got This,” held true as we followed the wisdom of His Word.
The managers returned. They thanked us for holding their fort together, and soon sold the hotel for a future of calm retirement. When we drive by the location today we only see the used car lot which has replaced it. But the memory of “Crazy Dave” will always remind us God’s Word is the answer to daily struggles. “A quiet answer turns away wrath,” is wisdom we would continue to use in the years ahead.
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