It’s 7:50am, and I’m back from the hotel restaurant after attempting to eat a cooked breakfast big enough to feed most entire families. I don’t usually bother with cooked breakfast, on account of very rarely eating breakfast at home. Most mornings are a race to get the kids up, fed, and out of the door.
I’m going to blame the girl on reception. When I arrived late yesterday evening my credit card wouldn’t work on the automated check-in system, so she arrived smiling at my side to check me in instead. While doing so, she offered all the things I hadn’t ticked when booking the room. Just to make sure. With a smile.
Last night was pretty entertaining, in a tortuous kind of way. After checking in, and unpacking my bags, I headed straight for the restaurant to find something to eat. I had been travelling for the better part of five hours – I was tired, and hungry. A smart lady met me at the lectern demarcating the pub from the restaurant, smiling as I approached.
“Table for one?”
“Yes” (again, I thought)
She shepherded me to a small out-of-the-way table in a quiet corner, and took my drink order before vanishing off to wherever the staff go to magic drinks and food from. In her absence a group of people arrived, led by another member of staff, to sit across the room from me.
Have you ever experienced somebody who’s voice you can hear through every other conversation in the room? Have you also ever experienced somebody who just DOESN’T STOP TALKING? She was sitting opposite me.
For the next hour I heard all about her son’s wedding, her holiday, their friend who was spending an inordinate amount of money on their wedding, and was also heading towards a nervous breakdown over the wedding planning. I heard about her younger son winning money on premium bonds, how this restaurant was the right mix of quality and value, and bizarrely “how lovely Dave’s wife is” (well done Dave!).
It wasn’t just that I could hear her conversation – it was the repeated delivery of every subject. An example might be useful:
“Dave’s wife is lovely, isn’t she. She’s a lovely person. Lovely. Isn’t she lovely Bill. She’s lovely, isn’t she Bill. Such a lovely woman. I really like her. She’s really lovely”.
She did this with every subject. I think I heard the two men with her get two sentences in during the entire half hour or so I shared the restaurant with them. She disagreed with everything they said, and lectured them at length with why she thought differently.
Oh. My. God.
After asking to pay, I was informed that the credit card machine wasn’t working, so could I pay at the bar. I wandered around the corner, and stood patiently waiting for a lady in her mid-sixties to also pay. She appeared to be trying to use several discount vouchers in some sort of multiplier scheme of her own invention – which the computer system was recognising and stopping from happening. She claimed ignorance, but I didn’t believe her for a moment.
When I finally arrived at the counter the girl behind the bar started asking me if I would like a table – as I stood there with the receipt in my hand. She stopped mid sentence and dissolved into giggles.
“I can’t believe I just did that – I’m so used to greeting people with those words”
There was a moment – as we both grinned – that some kind of wall came down. Instead of being professional, and efficient, and all those other things, she was human, and friendly, and warm, and disarming.
I paid my bill, then wandered back through reception, saying hello again to the girl that checked me in, and then back to my room to start stressing about the days to come – not before watching a quite wonderful movie called “Freedom Writers” though. Apparently it’s a true story – find it, and watch it. I dare you to get through it with dry eyes.