I arrived very late at night. From the outside the hotel looked closed, inhospitable. The lights were off. The night shift employee was lying on a couch. I opened the sliding glass doors, and glanced over to see a monolithic figure of a uniformed person behind a dark service desk. The person didn’t look up. He just gestured in the comfort of his usual position. If anything, he only gave me formal greeting as I approached him, carrying my bags. His eyes were hidden behind thick lenses, inscrutable in the gloom. His breathing, even thicker than his glasses, evidenced the nocturnal condition. He accomplished his work with merit from the first moment, when he asked for my passport, the three mandatory signatures and a credit card… «As a guarantee that you will not leave without paying,» he added, with the courtesy he learned at the hospitality school. That was the receptionist.
That was last week. But it could have happened any night last month, last year, or at the end of the millennium. Or at any other time in my childhood when the kindness of the agent was complimented with a «May God be with you for many years.» The reception has always been the sanctum sanctorum of the bureaucracy in the hotel industry. That strange job where, instead of welcoming guests and helping to relieve them from the inconvenience of traveling, they are hindered with the regular processing of their registration and assurance of their purchasing power. An instant hold in that travel momentum, the memory of which always reminds me of a teller window of the treasury or the lottery office, without the urgency of the first or the exciting disorder of the second. Continue reading