It's been a chaotic day.
I am still working on the issue I have to launch in the morning and I cannot find a moment to write my blog.
Therefore, I decided to share with you something that happened to me almost 10 years ago in Quebec City and that amused me immensely.
I will share the facts with you exactly as I put them on the paper in 2007.
I am at the front desk of the hotel where I work as a night auditor when he comes in. My colleague that works the reception desk hasn’t even looked at him at the beginning.
He is a man in his fifties, with salt and pepper hair, whose clothes do not match the hotel’s standards, an idea that does not bother him at all because he has got other things in his mind now and all these things seem quite overwhelming. Actually, he does not seem to have cared about anyway.
He comes from somewhere in the north and from what he mutters, you can understand that he knows only a few things: work, drink, weather and his woman, and exactly in this order. Oh, yes, his woman, waiting for him, who always waits for him - a thing that has never ceased to amaze him. He never could imagine why she was waiting. When they were young, that had some sense. Now, he had few things to offer and not the things a woman would want. Anyway, he has never cared too much about her needs. Between his work and his drinking, he had too little time to spare on her side and too little inclination to find some more. What to talk about or what to do together?
He comes out into the lobby, wobbling, looking wistfully at the small quantity of liquid left in the bottle he has got in his hand. At first, he shakes the bottle as if he couldn’t believe his eyes – the liquid has disappeared too fast, damn it, and, then, he shakes his head muttering bitterly: “Damn it, all bars are closed already! What am I going to drink now? Damn city! A man can’t have any fun in this town! I should have been more careful and bought more!”
Pure sadness almost brings some tears in his eyes and his lips becomes thinner and tight. If anyone had looked at him, they would have thought that hard problems were trying him cruelly – maybe some life and death matters.
Suddenly, with a start, through the steams of his drunkenness, he discovers that he has also got a more pressing problem for the moment and after some consideration upon it, he gets determined to solve it out and reaches the front desk where, with decision, despite his leaning against the counter – he needs some support, you know, because his head is spinning, and his legs are not as steady as they used to be i, he asks the young man behind the counter, in a very polite manner, if he could help him.
The young lad, who’s reading a book, looks up and watches him with a badly hidden curiosity at first – he rarely had such a bizarre guest in the hotel, and only afterwards, he can utter a few words:
“I don’t know, sir! Could you tell me in what matter? I’ll do my best” he promises as if he is about to take an oath in front of the court. He sounds solemn and a bit ridiculous but he doesn’t seem aware of that at all.
His job is to answer his customers’ needs and he wants to keep his job. After all, he’s got an apartment to pay rent for and he needs some food now and then - not very often, as he discovered after a few months of misery. His salary cannot pay for everything and he does not have any chance – at least for the moment – to gain more.
“Oh, of course!” the old man replies his questions promptly and hits his front as he has just discovered something very important.
Actually, he has just remembered what he wanted to say. While he was taking his few steps to the counter, he has already forgotten what he wanted to talk about. “Damn age!” he thinks. “When I was younger, I didn’t use to forget anything!”
However, he pushes these thoughts far in his mind for later and, leaning better against the counter, with a measured voice, because he cannot speak quite properly if he hurries, he tries to explain what he has been thinking of: “
You know, I’ve been drinking … for the last three…. or maybe two days…”
His face shows a real struggle to get the correct answer but he doesn’t seem to be too close to it. With a grimace, waving his hand, he gives up and continues:
“I’m not very sure how many days… whatever, I’m not very sure that anyone could tell me how many days…., and I don’t think this is too important…. but, you see…., the problem is that ….I don’t know where I parked my car!” he bursts with his last forces.
The receptionist starts inside but his eyes show nothing. After all, he had been trained to deal with unexpected matters for one year in college and he knows that he always has to be at the height of his task. Smiling, he shakes his head as if it were very natural not to know where you’ve parked your car and says respectfully:
“I suppose you’ve driven to our hotel, sir, haven’t you?”
“Oh, no!” the old man waves his hand again, blowing up the hopes of the young man.
Things are not going to be too easy for him. He growls inside, deep inside, but keeps smiling, showing that, no matter what, he has the answer hidden in the sleeve of his outfit.
Then, the old man tries to explain some facts that seem quite simple for him. He even has some hard time seeing that the lad in front of him doesn’t catch simple facts.
“You see…, I started drinking to another hotel a few nights ago… Don’t ask me which because I can’t tell you which hotel…. You see, I don’t remember right now…. However, I was too drunk to drive so I called a cab…. Smart thing, don’t you think?” he smiles showing some small teeth and his smile says more than his words. “That’s the thing. I think the cab driver knows where my car is… I have the number of the cab”, he concludes satisfied with himself and very sure on his words.
He starts checking the pockets of his trousers to find the number of the cab. He is trying hard to find it and finally he takes out a piece of paper with a number written on it.
The young man looks at him silently for a few moments, trying to find a way to get out of the situation, but he finds nothing outstanding and then he says the only thing at hand:
“Yes, sir, no problem! I’m going to call the cab company. You will talk to them and they might help you!”
Then, I can see clearly that he continues in his mind: “If they can do it or want to do it, but I honestly doubt! If anyone comes with such a story to me, I’d send him walk away!” Actually, that's what crossed my mind as well.
Keeping a professional smile on his face, trying to seem as understandable as possible, he dials the number of the cab company and then waits for someone to answer the phone.
Meanwhile he watches the man in front of him noticing everything with a lot of accuracy, as I realized later when he attacked the subject with me.
He notices the man is in his fifties and, the most interesting thing for him, he is wearing a nice old sweater eaten up by moths. There are even some very large holes in the material. Someone could try to pass their fist through the holes. He could say, without doubt, that the sweater in question had seen better times before but a very long, long time before. The sweater had been washed so many times that the colors fainted completely. The same patina of time could be seen in every detail of the old man, even in the color of his hair and in the wrinkles on his face.
Finally, someone from the cab company answers the phone. The lad sighs unwillingly but he has just felt his lips were going to crack completely because of the forced smile he showed to the old man all that time.
“Hello, sir!,” he says to the man who picked up, “I’m the receptionist of the hotel “Bellevue” and I have a client here who claims that one of your drivers brought him here two days ago. He has the number of the car and he needs some information.”
“Which is the driver’s number, please?”
“Which is the number of the driver, sir?” he asks the client who is about to fall down, even though he tries hard to lean against the counter. The steams of drunkenness have invaded his brains completely and he can barely see through a thick fog. He starts because he has already forgotten what he was doing, but then, pulling up together, he says:
“05, it’s written here!” he shows a small visit card to the receptionist after he’s been trying to blink his eyes to see what’s written on the paper. “He gave it to me after he left me here.”
The young man nods as if he understood perfectly and repeats everything to the man at the other end of the line.
“I’m sorry”, this one replies, “but number 05 is free today. Call back tomorrow and we will be able to reach him”.
The receptionist tells that to the client but this one loses his gentle and nice smile at once and says a bit angrily:
“Pass me the phone! Damn it! I’m going to settle this matter.”
The young man doesn’t argue with him and gives him the receiver, relieved he doesn’t have to speak to the dispatcher any more. The old man starts a fast conversation with the taxi dispatcher and he seasons his conversation with large gestures and exclamations, meanwhile wobbling.
However, the dispatcher doesn’t give up and apparently explains him that his arguments are not useful. He cannot contact the driver till the next day. Finally, the old man gives up and says bye putting the receiver in the hook.
He bows to the receptionist and then goes to the front door with some difficulty in keeping the straight line, and he looks outside through the window of the door. Then, he goes out.
The receptionist breaths relieved and sits down again. He opens his book and starts reading about the amazing German spy who made the entire west to tremble. Unfortunately, he doesn’t manage to read too much. He gets completely tense when the old guy comes back and says:
“Young man, be kind, and call the cab company again!”
The young man smiles professionally and nods, but in his mind, he starts checking the arsenal of all the swear-words he knows. He discovers that he has managed to find over five till the dispatcher answers the phone.
“Good for me!” he thinks.
“Hotel Bellevue, again! Our client wants to speak to you again, sir!” says he having the satisfaction of hearing a deep sigh at the other end of the line. Why should he have had to suffer alone? It is always better to have company when it comes to pain, no matter what kind of pain.
He passes the receiver to the client and keeps smiling while watching out of the window. His eyes go round seeing the snow has just started and the curtain of snowflakes seems to steal his sight. He’s calming down little by little and listens to the conversation with only one ear. He is not interested in it at all because he knows the outcome. If the driver is not at work, the dispatcher won’t look for him.
He is right. He sees the old man putting the phone in the hook with total resignation on his face. Suddenly, he feels sorry for him. Old man’s eyes are wit and he seems an open person and even though he has forgotten of stopping drinking, he doesn’t deserve the trouble he’s been through. There are a lot of people drinking out there. Even he drinks now and then, maybe quite often and he doesn’t drink only a bit. He drinks quite a lot. He has the feeling it is fun.
The old man wobbles to the door and gets out leaving the receptionist with his interesting book. The lad doesn’t even offer him a thought after his leaving. He’s too busy doing nothing and having fun.
After a long while, the man comes back, radiant and happy. Victorious, he says:
“I’ve found it! I’ve spent over 100 dollars but I’ve found it! I’ve asked a cab driver to drive me in circles with larger diameter around this hotel and I found it. Now I finally can go to bed! I can sleep because I have peace of mind!” he ends in a crescendo and leaves the hotel, with the same bottle in his hand.
This final move leaves the young receptionist speechless and, not being even aware of what he is doing, he watches to the front door of the hotel and back to the corridor where the room of the old man is. But God knows where this one is actually gone!
My poor colleague was able to talk about that only after another half an hour.
Hopefully, you'll enjoy this story. Tomorrow evening, I will be back on track.
Born sometime in the past century, living in the 21st century.
Sometimes I have good ideas... (what do you think?)
Sometimes fascinating guests!
(that for sure!)
Sometimes I have to share some of my frustrations,..
(not too tempting, huh!)
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