It was late evening on Sunday when I checked into my hotel in Orlando. I was tired after a long flight from San Francisco, but wanted to check email quickly. I sat down at my desk, fired up my laptop and opened up Outlook. Whilst I sat there, waiting for my messages to sync, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye, a brief, skittish flicker of something off to my right. I couldn’t see anything at first, and I had just refocused on my email when something distracted me again, and this time I saw a cockroach running along the desk.
I yelped, or squealed, possibly both. It was definitely girly. I am very scared of cockroaches. I don’t hate them, in fact I kind of respect them for being such hardy creatures, but I do have a very deep-seated fear of them. These primeval neanderthals could survive a nuclear attack, I remind myself whenever the word cockroach is mentioned.
I felt physically sick as I jumped back from my chair and desk as the roach tried to squeeze itself between the crack of my desk and the adjacent wall, but before it could disappear I placed a glass on top of it, base first, squishing it. Oh good God what had I done!? What was I going to do now? I daren’t lift the glass in case it scurried away, or even worse became angry at my impudence and attacked me. It might scurry off, get its mates and come after me, mob handed, the sneaky little bullying neanderthal shitbastard.
My heart was racing. It was at least in stasis beneath the glass, I reassured myself, it looked crushed, but then one can never be sure and so I left it there and retired to bed, somewhat fearful the wider cockroach family may come out search party style, looking for missing persons.
I awoke after a fitful sleep and immediately but warily checked the glass. It was still there and surely dead by now but I still couldn’t bring myself to lift the glass in case it moved, and so I left it and left for work. I convinced myself the maid would surely be roach proficient and would sort the problem without even batting her Floridian eyelid.
On my return that evening, the room had been tidied and the glasses had all been returned to the bathroom, no roach in sight, presumed cleared away. But no sooner had that thought crossed my mind when I saw the very same roach skittering across my desk and disappearing once again down the same crack it had tried to disappear down the previous night.
The maid must have simply lifted the glass, and despite > 12hrs of overnight glass asphyxiation, this prehistoric monster had simply crawled nonchalantly away and carried on living its life in room 3209. I felt sick again but was calmer than yesterday. I was angry at the maid, she must have seen it under the glass surely? Had she let it go on purpose? Why would she do that? I made a mental note not to leave a tip.
I saw nothing upon awakening and left for my meetings. I returned early evening and had a quick turnaround before heading back out for dinner, but as I switched on the light there he was, for I was sure he was a he, he had that arrogant swagger only males possess. He saw me, waved his antenna in a fuck-you kinda way and headed for the crack, the very same crack, and disappeared once again out of sight. I was astonished, this felt like a game, one in which I was losing. I felt less scared than previously yet more annoyed that this little critter was toying with me. I returned late that night and as sure as eggs is eggs there Kevin was. I was a little tipsy and feeling brave so I ran towards him, certain I could block his path and head him off at the pass. My efforts proved futile and he once again disappeared down the blessed crack, no doubt laughing as he went.
I didn’t see Kevin Wednesday morning but we met briefly Wednesday evening as I returned and switched on the light. Same routine, there he was, waving his antenna antagonistically at me before nonchalantly (and that irked me a little), almost sauntering his way to the crack as if to goad me to try and stop him. I wasn’t going to be drawn into his childish games so I averted my eyes and ignored him. I think that showed him.
Checkout day. As I packed I looked out for Kevin but he was nowhere to be seen. It was daylight, he was probably sleeping. I missed him. I wanted to say goodbye, metaphorically shake his hand out of respect if nothing else. Kevin was a character, we’d played a game and he’d won.
I never did see him again, but I did leave with a new found respect for cockroaches.
And in the end I decided to leave the maid a few dollars tip after all, with a note attached: