I used to be hotelier. A Concierge. It was a job that I loved very, very much. And I worked for a property where I had the privilege of many repeat guests, allowing myself and other agents to have the chance to really get familiar with their patrons, to interact with them on a regular basis.
Sometimes, though, other than the occasional chit chat, you wouldn’t ask too much about the guest when you see them, or at least- you wouldn’t be asking them about their personal lives. You would assist them with their needs and inquiries, keep your guest happy, well informed, and then move on to the next guest.
There was one guest that I remember… she was an older lady, very tall for a woman, and her appearance was along the likes of Mrs. Doubtfire. I saw her almost every week, for two years.
(Robin Williams. I loved this movie as a child. I still do.)
And there was one evening when she approached my desk to ask to purchase a gift card. After I had processed her payment, I asked about her. I don’t know if this is something that might have been condoned by my managers. But I really liked my guests. And I really wanted to know more about the people they were apart from the 3 minute interaction I had with them when they came to ask for service. I don’t remember what my question was. Maybe it was something about her career, what she had used to do prior to her retirement. Regardless, she didn’t seem too thrown off by the question; she was one of those seniors who liked to share her experience with others. She ended up pulling this really tiny square of a photograph from her wallet. It was so faded you could hardly see the faces on the brown and white photograph. Or perhaps it was simply the quality of photography at that time.
It was a photo of a woman standing next to a man in a uniform: herself, and her husband. This was obviously a photo from way back when, from a time where she was slim, and young. She told me how good of a man he was, and became very teary eyed, which somewhat distressed me. I didn’t mean to make her cry. But I remember being passed this photo, and how thin and brittle it felt in my hands. He was dashing. And she was beautiful. He had passed away many years ago.
Perhaps I received another guest, or perhaps she was done talking. I don’t recall how we parted ways after that conversation. But I remember thinking how amazing life can be, and what it means to people to fall in love. That you carry that one photo around in your wallet, perhaps your whole life. It’s so precious, the value of emotions. I think there are a lot more older women and men out there who hold such photos in their wallets than we are aware of. I’m really glad she was willing to share with me that one snapshot memory of the two of them together. Everyone has such an amazing past to share, and perhaps not enough people to share it with. Really, us humans, we are all walking storybooks. The fact that she was drawn to tears only eludes to the power of her one story, her one love. I’m happy she had such a great man in her life.
I no longer work at that hotel. But I hope she is well.