Thursday, May 5, 2011

A different perspective

from an imaginary Lucerne diary.

I was working in the back office, filing the paperwork from yesterday’s comings and goings at the hotel, when I heard the bell ring at the front desk. I finished what I was writing and dropped the pen down onto the ledger. The pen rolled into a small paper cup of water and knocked it over on the page. I grabbed some tissues from my handbag and frantically dabbed at the spreading puddle, but some of the water had already smudged the figures in the ‘Bills Paid’ column. The bell rang again. I knew I had to look welcoming to any visitor to the hotel, but I was feeling annoyed as I stepped through the door into the small reception area. I tried to smile, but I was aware that I was frowning as I said: “Can I help you?”

A man was standing in the narrow hallway in front of the counter. He was thin and bald, and wore black glasses with a thick frame, and black clothes. He seemed nervous, his eyes moving quickly from side to side, never quite meeting mine. He asked me is a certain guest was still staying at the hotel. I recognized the name: I had been processing his credit card payment only minutes earlier. For all I knew it was his name that was dissolving on the untended ledger. The thought of the ledger being spoiled, of having to do a morning’s work all over again, of explaining what I’d done to the hotel owner, who said that there was no such thing as an honest mistake, only a sackable offense—all this made my blood rise, and I felt myself blushing hotly.

It was clear to me that not only was this stranger not looking for a room, but that he didn’t know the person he was asking for. I decided to tell him nothing more, but to wait for him to leave. I noticed that he was glancing at my breasts, and I was suddenly conscious of how the t-shirts the hotel staff were made to wear were very tight. I shifted from one foot to another, and clasped my left elbow with my right hand.

“Can I help you with anything else?” I said. He mumbled something I didn’t catch, and backed towards the front door. When he’d gone, I took out my cellphone and started to type a text to my boyfriend about this creep who had asked weird questions and stared at my tits. But then I remembered the spilled water and the unfinished paperwork. “Scheisse,” I said, and went back through the swing door into the office.

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