I have spent so much of my life is foreign countries, I am quite used to not fitting in. I am usually the only professional woman,North American–UK citizen and/or Christian in the meeting, in the store, in the building, in the cafe. Being “other” doesn’t bother me, but when the “othering” happens in my native country, it is an odd feeling.
I spent 2 days at a hotel in my hometown this past summer and it was fascinating to be emphatically put in my place and made to feel unwelcome.
When I had made the reservation, I had asked for a “quiet room.” And when I walked into the room, what do I see? A door connecting my room to another room – yes, the door is locked, but connecting doors are less sound-proof. And yes, I could hear every word of the news report the people next door werelistening to. Sigh.
I go back to the reception desk and am told there is nothing to be done because, shrug, “you are the last person to check in.” It’s 10pm. I guess all the “real” people show up at hotels at 4 pm and are tucked into bed by this time.
So back to my loud room, where there is a carefully wrapped, home-made treat on the desk. No label to say what it was and no list of ingredients. Clearly, “real people” know what it is and have no food allergies.
It was impressive how the staff missed no opportunity to show their displeasure with my presence. At breakfast they first morning, the waiter brought me the check WHILE I WAS STILL EATING. And the buffet was open for another 45 minutes. As I had nothing else to do while ignoring the check, I kept tabs on the other tables. All the other guests had the check brought upon request or after they had tossed their napkins on the table.
And such a breakfast! A feast for Puritans! The coffee was served from an URN! When was the last time you saw that? The scrambled eggs were cold and the only one kind of juice: orange. The bread (one kind, did you want a CHOICE of bread? You heathen!) was piled in one area, nowhere near the toaster. And (happy mortification of the flesh!) the butter was missing in action.
You could sense the management trying desperately to limit any possible joy – only 4 of the 12 tables had floral centerpieces. Really, carnations are so expensive this year?
That afternoon, I walked by the front desk, aiming for the restaurant which had a door to the street I wanted to get to and the clerk called out to me that the restaurant was open. I said, “I know, I want to get to X Street.” He shook his head and pointed to the main door.
Alors! I was so infra-dig I was NOT ALLOWED TO WALK THROUGH THE RESTAURANT.
So I walked out the main door, down the street, turned the corner and passed the restaurant. Of course, I took extra care to go in the restaurant door on the way back.
The shower didn’t drain and when I told the reception clerk, the response was (and I quote), “oh.”
Clearly it was the kind of place where you have put up with this nonsense for 30 years, then you will treated like special guest.
May the offspring of a thousand bugs nest in their beds and the offspring of a thousand termites munch on their timbers.