Tuesday, November 11, 2008

This isn't in my job description

Generally, working in a day spa is pretty relaxing. There are lovely colors on the walls, a water fountain or two, soothing music, wonderful smells. Coming from the Red Cross, too, I now know what constitutes a true disaster, and what, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty inconsequential. Let's just say that most things that happen in the spa aren't on the disaster end of the spectrum.

I ran home today for lunch, since M was working from home and I'm so close. As I was walking out the door to return to work, my aunt called my cell. I cracked a joke, "Oh, must be a marketing emergency!" as I answered. She warned me that we had a client who was "visibly impaired" and walking/driving erratically. She was due to return to the spa at one, about the time I'd be getting back. Auntie had called the police, but didn't know if they'd come. Okaaaaay. I sorta chuckled and rolled my eyes at M, because it almost sounded like a crank call.

I returned cautiously to work, on the lookout for the white Cadillac Escalade. No signs, and I arrived safely, parked, and came in. Dad and I (yes, I work with my whole fam damily) were unloading some boxes from his trunk when he spotted her going the wrong way down the parking aisle (of course) and then trying to park. I kept watch on her (mainly to see that she didn't take out three cars in her 23-point-turn) while Dad ran to get Auntie. She was already behind the front desk, waiting for her, having been alerted by our staff that she was back. I watched the client practically fall out of her car, then stumble erratically as she lurched towards the front door of the spa. When she reached the curb, she stopped, sized up the step for a moment (it's about six inches) and gingerly lifted one foot well over the curb to step up. Having done this myself while inebriated, I knew she was plastered. I checked the other cars in the parking lot for damage and re-entered the building.

Auntie and our customer service manager had taken her to an office, where they had her wait while a cab was called. Of course, she soon tired of waiting and stumbled back out to the lobby, wailing that no man was gonna control her, and that she was leaving. Now, I don't really care what drunk people do, except that I know for damn sure I'll do whatever it takes to keep one from getting behind the wheel of a car.

She wobbled out to her car with three staff members in tow, each pleading with her to hand over her keys. "We called the cab! The cab is almost here! Please, Holly. Please!" I called 911. The dispatcher asked if this was in reference to the call before. I said yes, it was, but that the woman was getting in her car as we spoke and if they didn't get some officers here now, she was going to drive away and kill someone. She said, "They're on their way."

I hung up and bolted out to the car, where my three colleagues were still unsucessfully pleading with her as she sat in the driver's seat. At one point, she said she was calling her ex-husband, and then proceeded to pull several alcohol bottles (some full, some empty) out of her purse while looking for her cell phone. "I'm going to drink tonight!" she announced. She thought she may have left her phone in the spa, and one of my coworkers tried to bargain. "Holly, I'll give you your phone in exchange for your keys." No deal. She was leaving with or without her phone.

They finally talked her out of the car since the cab had arrived and she could see it. I didn't want to run the risk of her coming right back and leaving in her car anyway, so I stepped up to her and gently placed my hand on her arm. "Holly, sweetie, can I borrow your keys so I can straighten your car out in the parking spot?" "Sure. Thanks." She handed me the keys and I walked away, heart pounding and thanking God that they weren't in her hands any more.

Within thirty seconds two police officers pulled up and I walked up to the first one and handed him the keys through the open window. "She cannot drive. I have her keys. I do not want them, so I'm giving them to you."

What breaks my heart is that between her first visit to the spa and her second, she had picked up one of her children from school and taken him home.

Zoe is getting extra hugs and kisses tonight, and I wish there was someone to give Holly's kids hugs and kisses, too. Please whisper a prayer tonight, as you fall asleep, for Holly and her family, and thank God you are not her.


Anonymous Aunt KK said...

It is in your "Job Description" as a kind caring human being a Mother, Wife, Daughter, Sister, etc..You just saved multiple lives by not letting her out of that parking lot! Lives of people that can go home and kissed their loved ones tonight, thanks to you!

3:30 PM  

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