Last Wednesday morning I found myself sitting in the foyer of the Holiday Inn in Leeds, Yorkshire, killing time before a meeting. I had scraped myself out of the hotel bed at 6am, had a shower, shave, got dressed, and made it down for breakfast by 6:30am – I was quite proud of myself.
The reasoning for getting up so damn early is to get first dibs on the buffet breakfast, which usually gets massacred by the time the world and it’s dog appear a little later in the morning. It cannot be over-stated how wonderful it is to grab a coffee from the machine on the breakfast counter without joining a queue filled with people balancing plates, cups, and whatever else they think they might be able to cram into their mouth for free. Of course “free” is a misnomer – the price of breakfast is included in the room.
Just for the record – I wonder if the company that makes scrambled eggs for hotel breakfasts has ever thought about using it as a substitute for the rubber flooring in children’s play-parks – I reckon it might be the same stuff.
After munching my way through a sausage, some beans, a piece of bacon, the affor-mentioned egg, downing a couple of coffees, and reading the news on my phone, I thought “I should double check the starting time for the meeting”. I’m not sure what made me check.
And that’s how I discovered the meeting wasn’t starting until 10am. So there I was – sitting in the hotel restaurant at 7:30am, wondering what I might do for a couple of hours. It turns out if you let yourself fall into Twitter, Tumblr, WordPress, Reddit, and wherever else online, there’s no end to what you can’t get done over the course of a couple of hours.
Towards the end of the blissful ignorance, I checked out of the hotel, and still found myself with time to spare – so dragged my bags over to the plush seats near reception, and pretended to look busy (in reality I dicked around with my paper notebook for a few minutes).
While dicking around with the notebook, I began to hear a raised voice at the hotel reception about 10 yards behind me. I wanted to turn around and find out what was going on, but thought that might draw attention, so stopped what I was doing, and just sat quietly listening.
“I FUCKING WANT SOMETHING DONE ABOUT IT!”
(some calm sounding words from the staff)
“I WANT TO SEE THE MANAGER!”
(more slightly panicked sounding words, and some crashing around)
Moments later a very smart lady in a business suit – I can only guess she was the manager of the hotel – marched past me, with a little bald angry man in hot pursuit. She walked to the far end of the foyer, and stood next to the window, inviting the man to tell her his story.
“DO YOU THINK IT’S OKAY TO BE WOKEN UP AT GOD KNOWS WHAT FUCKING TIME IN THE MORNING BY THE HOTEL STAFF SHOUTING OUTSIDE YOUR DOOR?”
“I DON’T KNOW WHAT LANGUAGE THEY WERE FUCKING SPEAKING EITHER – IT CERTAINLY WASN’T FUCKING ENGLISH!”
Ah. So he’s not only an angry little man – he’s also a racist.
His face was turning a bit purple, and he was pacing back and forth, clenching and unclenching his fists – a little like a toddler that has lost their temper. The angrier and louder he got, the more self belief he also seemed to grow. The manager stood quietly, watching him pace back and forth gesticulating. His face was purple and blotchy – I wondered if he might actually explode.
“I’M GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT’S GOING TO FUCKING HAPPEN! – YOU’RE GOING TO GIVE ME THE LATEST CHECKOUT YOU POSSIBLY CAN FOR FREE, BECAUSE I’M GOING TO RUIN YOUR STAFF’S LIVES – AND YOU WAIT – I’M GOING TO FUCKING GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO CLEAN UP”
With that, he started marching back through the hotel, followed by the manager. I heard her calmly reply “there’s no need for that” as she passed me.
Did I mention he was still wearing his pyjamas? At 9am?
Good entertainment though.