Castiel was eating breakfast at the Samaritan's men's hostel in Lochlin, Iowa. It was a nice enough place; he had stayed in far worse dumps that passed for shelters on his way. The staff seemed nice, and the other men were keen storytellers, but he still missed the angel comforts like being able to appear where he liked at will.
"Well, gents," the day manager Irene interjected, pulling Castiel back out of his daydreaming, "It's almost 8 AM and you know the rules, nobody gets back in until 4:30 this evening." The men all started to get up from the table with a lot of grumbling and mumbling, and Irene addressed Cas. "Clarence, may I see you in my office before you go ?" she asked. The other guys hissed and heckled 'ooooh someone's in trouble', and Irene gave them all a matronly glare that quieted the group as they left.
"Don't worry, Clarence," she said as Cas followed her through the door, "you're not in trouble. I just didn't want the others to hear, since some of them get upset when other men get offered work instead of them. I think you're quite well suited for this one and that little bit of money should help you get that bus ticket you were talking about."
Castiel stuttered. "Um…, I'm sorry?" he asked, quite confused.
"Let me explain," she said, gesturing for Cas to sit. "A friend of mine who runs the Lochlin information centre in Kobe Park has found herself in a bit of a pickle. She's short staffed today and needs someone to sit at the information desk who can answer the telephone, give out maps, and help people to get where they want to go. Does that seem like something you could do, Clarence?"
Castiel thought in silence. On one hand, he was wasting a day he could be using to find Sam and Dean, but on the other hand, a bus ticket would get him a lot farther than he could walk. Surely sitting at an information desk couldn't be that hard.
"I think that sounds like something I could do."
Irene drove him to the park. "Have a good day, Clarence," she called out the window, waving.
Castiel walked up to the information centre. A grey haired woman in a power suit, in her early sixties, was sitting behind a large circular counter, and leapt to her feet. "Ahh, you must be Clarence," she said, clearly delighted to see him. "I'm Larissa," she stated, holding out her hand for Cas to shake it. He was a few painful milliseconds slow on the uptake. "Let me show you around, and we'll get you right to work."
She showed him the large table with a 3D mock-up of the park, highlighting the most popular attractions: the paddle boat rentals on the man-made lake, the antique tea shop, the lawn bowling club, the two jungle gyms, the children's splash pad, and the fenced dog park. Then she showed him the pamphlet display wall with pamphlets from what seemed like every organization in the region, the map stand, explaining that the regional maps and map books were four dollars. She showed him how to operate the till, and then signed him onto the computer. "If there's anything you don't know, feel free to look it up on the internet, okay?" Cas nodded, his head still spinning from the all the stuff he was just shown. "Good, that should be everything. If you run into trouble, dial number four on your phone, and I'll be right with you," she said beaming. "Have a good day Clarence, and I'll bring you some lunch at noon."
The morning was fairly slow. He directed a handful of people to the public bathrooms, returned a set of lost keys, took the picture of a family on vacation from Portugal, and sat quietly behind the desk trying to look pleasant and approachable as people walked by.
Larissa brought him a roast beef sandwich, some apple slices, and a chocolate milk at noon. "Thank you," he said gratefully.
Around 1:30 PM, a haughty looking woman stormed through the front door with a miserable looking kid in tow, who looked about five years old. "I would like to register a complaint," she said forcefully, slamming her large purse onto Castiel's desk, startling him.
"I'm sorry," he stammered, but this is informations, if you want to register a complaint you'll…" he trailed off because the woman wasn't listening. "Your park equipment is dangerous!" she shouted over Castiel's protestations. "My poor Hayden got a nasty welt on his head, and I have a good mind to sue," she continued.
"I don't see how that leads to a cause for suit," Castiel said flatly. "It's not all that uncommon for children to sustain minor injuries while playing. I'm sure your son wasn't the only one today, and I'm confused as to how the playground equipment is at fault. Inanimate objects cannot move as far as I know. "
She started to turn a bright shade of red in anger and Castiel, bewildered and sensing imminent danger, decided to call in the cavalry. "One moment please," he said, holding up a finger, and he dialed four. Larissa said she'd be right with him.
Coming out radiating a well cultured calmness developed from years in customer service, Larissa strolled into the lobby and straight up to the irate mother. "May I help you?" she asked clinically. "I wished to register a complaint and this employee has been rude and unhelpful to me!" the woman vented. "My son was injured on your playground equipment and I have a good mind to sue!"
"I see," she said, walking around behind the desk. She leaned in behind Cas and whispered quietly, "Humor her." Castiel looked confused. "I do not see how humour would help here," he whispered back.
She leaned over and pretended to type on the computer. "Let me pull up an incident report," she said to the lady, who gave a satisfied huff.
"Who was injured?"
"My son, " she stated, "Hayden Smith." Larissa pretended to type some more.
"What equipment was he using when the injury occurred?"
"The pirate ship," she said. "He fell climbing the rope ladder and hurt his head."
"Let me open the maintenance log," she said. In reality, she opened a game of solitaire that the lady couldn't see. "According to the log, the last inspection was this morning, and everything was fine. Was he given first aid by any staff members?"
"Are you aware there are signs posted at the children's play areas that state the target age for the equipment, and remind parents that we are not liable for injuries resulting from improper use or supervision of children on the equipment?" The lady paled, and Cas knew that at that moment, she knew she had been had and wasn't going to get anything out of her efforts.
"Unfortunately," Larissa stated, "We cannot be held liable for injuries sustained using our facilities." She opened the second drawer on her right and pulled out a large orange lollipop. "I'm sorry to hear that you got a nasty bump on the head," she said sincerely, holding out the lollipop to the little boy who had been hiding shyly behind his mother the whole time. The mother pushed it away. "He can't eat that," she said, turning to herd him out the door, "He only eats organic naturally flavoured dye and sugar-free candy."
"Play safe," she called after them. She turned back to Castiel, who was looking at her in shocked awe. "That's how you humor them, Clarence," she said, patting him on the shoulder. "Some people have real cheap thrills. Yelling at public servants, seeing what they can get by complaining loud enough with their 'always right' mentality. Don't let them get you down, Clarence."
And with that she walked back toward her office. Almost as an afterthought, she called back to him, "I think you've earned that bus ticket."