One of the funniest things in this great nation are the myriads of laws that make no sense at all. Most of them were written to satisfy the puritan lust in our collective religious conscious.
We have so many laws still on the books that try to regulate and dictate acceptable actions in the most secret places, our bedrooms. I am sure Go Figure knows far more about archaic laws than I do, but some of the ones that I saw in the hotel business were just plain ludicrous.
In the early seventies in the great state of Washington, there were laws in place to save us from that dastardly crime of carnal lust called prostitution. OK, coming from Wallace, I might have a slightly different view of the world's oldest profession than someone from say, Lincoln Nebraska.
To me is was no big deal. Of course, I had never been exposed to those ladies of the evening called"street walkers". The big deal at that time in Pierce County was that desk clerks seemed to be setting up a little side business as pimps. Now these desk clerk pimps didn't drive around in pink caddies, nor did they walk around with fur coats and ostrich hats. They simply turned their heads when a hooker showed up to do business. They then sometimes received a handsome tip from the lady for being a party to the act.
There were two things here that need some explanation. First of all, a clerk was also in danger of being arrested for pimping by innocently no getting the right registration data from a guest. How could this happen", you may be asking. Well, back in those days guests had to register as husband and wife. You could not in theory check into a hotel with a person of the opposite sex that you were not married to. All registrations of couples had to read "Mr. and Mrs". If it did not, and the lady happened to be a hooker, the desk clerk could be charged with pimping. I kid you not!
Stupid law? Yes, but it gets even more absurd. It matters not if the couple was actually married or not, it only mattered that they both sign the registration as Mr. and Mrs. -----. If that was done, the desk clerk had done his or her obligation to the law, and they could not be charged with pimping. How is that for absurd?
I was well versed on this law by my new employer at the Carlton Hotel. Whenever a couple came in I had both parties sign the registration card, and then I dutifully checked the signatures to make sure they read "Mr. and Mrs."One day I got my first test on this law.
Enter one female black lady and a large, very white guy. They told me that they wanted a room, and so I had them fill out the card. I told them they both must sign it. The guy signed it first, and then the lady sigend it. I picked up the form to look at it and at once I noticed that the lady had signed a different name than the the guy. He had signed in as John Henry(just kidding about the name), and she had signed in with something like "Fifi Smith". OK, l was no dummy. I told then that I could not rent to them because they had different last names. No fool, this lady of the night. She looked at me, smiled and said"Oh, you want my married name" She then looked at the man's name on the card, and then wrote Mrs. John Henry. OK, I was now clear, and had done my legal duty, I gave them the key to the room and bade them a good evening.
Thirty minutes or so after the couple had gone upstairs, four very large guys dressed in leather coats and jeans came bursting through the lobby door, walked up to the desk and flashed badges and announced themselves as "Tacoma Vice " They then demanded to know if a black lady and white guy had just checked in, and what room were they in. They took the elevator up the floor that I had indicated. About fifteen minutes later they came back down, only now they had the lady handcuffed, and the large white guy that had checked in with her was talking jovially with the vice officers. The poor hooker still had not totally caught on yet, She turned to the officers and pointed to her cohort and said"what about him, why are you not arresting him" The officer started laughing and said "we don't usually arrest our own".
Now, I was glad that I had followed protocol in checking in this couple, or I could have been charged with pimping. I can see the headline-"Ministerial student charged with pimping". Hm, probably would not have looked on my resume.
However, the thing that really got me was the entrapment used on this lady, and the question of the day, and I still think about , is this, what did the first cop do in the room for the thirty minutes before his buddies showed up to do the arrest. Hm, I wonder----