The first thing I noticed about the Republic of Georgia was that the locals weren’t too fond of Russians.
When I asked Georgians for a detailed explanation as to why this was so (I suppose I could have just skimmed over the last thousand years of Georgian history), I received the succinct response: “The Russians are always trying to invade our country.” After a week in Georgia of hearing horrific historic accounts of various bombings, invasions, and other violent activity directed towards Georgians, I began to have sympathy fears of Russians. Well, that might be an understatement.
History lesson aside, I want to tell you about a particular night during my trip to Georgia. For once, I was actually traveling on business, and I was working very long hours. I returned back to my hotel one Friday night, I collapsed into bed without even drinking any vodka, and I instantly fell into a deep sleep.
I sprung into sitting position in the middle of the night upon hearing a deafening crash. The sound of thundering, clamorous bangs were booming somewhere on the lower floor of my small hotel, as if low-grade grenades were being tossed about downstairs. Manly screams were exchanged in the midst of all of this thunderous commotion, only followed my more grenade-like thrashes.
What the fuck was going on!? My mind immediately focused on Russians. I was certain whatever horrific activity that was going on down there definitely involved Russians.
The angry man voices continued. What could they be arguing about? The only word I knew in Georgian was pepela, or ‘butterfly,’ which is what my Georgian coworkers had nicknamed me. I had no idea what the angry parties downstairs were upset about, but at a minimum I was able to eliminate the possibility that they were arguing about butterflies.
Then the commotion stepped it up a notch. The cacophonous fighting and thrashing became so overwhelming that I was certain the Russian army had arrived and was looking for hidden enemies of the state. I promptly started to freak the fuck out.
I got out of bed and hurriedly got dressed, whilst the commotion only continued to increase downstairs. It was very apparent that furniture being thrown against a wall and shattered into pieces on the floor. With all that screaming, I was sure it was only a matter of time before knives or guns were brought into the discussion, and I had no intention of being present when it escalated to that level.
“I’m not going out like this!” I said to myself. Killed by Russians in some freak Georgian hotel dispute was not on my top 5 list of cool ways to die.
I had to get the fuck out of the hotel, and fast. I only had my small knife with me, and I wasn’t 100% sure it could puncture human flesh.
First things first; I walked over to the giant armoire in my room and pushed it in front of the door. It was a heavy piece of furniture. This alone expended about 50% of my energy, but I felt better about having barricaded my room entrance from Russian invaders. At a minimum, this would slow them down for a few minutes.
I then walked over to the window to assess a possible leap. I was on the third floor; I contemplated the jump, but estimated I’d at least break an ankle, impeding my ability to run from the rogue Russian soldiers that most certainly seek out maidens to violate. No, no, no, I wasn’t going to let that happen to me.
I moved on to Plan B. Like most females, I make it a rule to travel with a good, strong piece of webbing. This is something I learned during my climbing days; A good, long piece of webbing, not unlike duct tape, can get you out of 95% of sticky situations. I dug around in my backpack, quickly locating my bright red piece of webbing, and looked for a secure anchor in my hotel room. I tied a water knot around the heavy foot of my Victorian-style Georgian bed. I then proceeded to tie similar knots to create loops in my webbing. I threw it out the window. My makeshift ladder fell about eight feet from the ground. I could certainly jump from there without breaking my leg.
Feeling quite MacGyver, I decided shoes would be a good accessory for this window-webbing-ladder hotel escape. Sitting down on the bed, lacing up my second boot, the war that had been going on downstairs for the last ten minutes as I was preparing my escape abruptly stopped. Just like that.
I looked out of the window into the dark, deserted street. How had all of those Russian soldiers left without a vehicle? Had someone pulled a knife and killed everyone? Had someone released a envelope full of anthrax? Should I stay? Should I go? Was I just the victim of some biological warfare? WHAT THE FUCK WAS GOING ON?
Too scared to go downstairs and now equally scared to leave my room, lest the perpetrators be lurking in the alley in the street below my window, I resorted to the only plan of action that seemed appropriate: sleep.
Some hours later, I decided enough hours of silence had passed to careful make my way downstairs for breakfast. I slipped my open knife in my pocket, ready to fight off the Russians. I crept in slowly to the dining room like a ninja, concerned that no one else was there except the solemn hotel owner. He had bags under his eyes and was looking quite disheveled.
I peeked my head around the corner and whispered over to him, “PSSSSSTT!”
He turned my way and looked up, appearing to be slightly confused. “Can I help you?”
“Is it safe?” I asked. “Are the Russians still here?”
“Russians?” said the old hotel owner, cocking his head to one side.
“Who was making all the commotion last night? It sounded like World War III down here. I got so scared I nearly jumped out the window.” (Luckily, the hotel owner did not realize I meant this literally.)
“Oh, yes, sorry, very bad. Very drunk Irishman come back from bar. He break furniture in his room.”
“Drunk Irishmen?” I asked.
“IrishMAN. One drunk Irishman. He very drunk. You go look. His room is right there.”
Overwhelmed with curiosity, I ran over to peek into the room where the war had taken place. My imagination actually hadn’t run that wild; it literally looked as though a tornado had passed through this room. There were shards of glass all over the floor, and every single piece of furniture, including the bed, was smashed into splintery pieces of wood. Huge dents and holes dotted the walls. I could not believe that one man had created such a mess… and as much noise as an entire troupe of Russian soldiers.
“One drunk Irishman?” I asked the hotel owner.
“Yes. Just one. ONE drunk Irishman,” he confirmed, shaking his head.
I’ve since re-evaluated my list of possible threats while traveling overseas. Drunk Irishman is now one step above “Russian Army Invasion.” He was certainly able to do more damage.
I feel like there should be a moral to this story, so I’ll make one up: Instead of watching out for Russian Army invasions, beware of inebriated Irishmen.