Today I was thinking back to my recent trip, and I remembered a story that I had wanted to share. We spent one night in San Antonio, and got to stay at the Embassy Suites Hotel.
These hotels are one of my all-time favorite hotels to stay at. I'm not one for luxury, so much, but I like the architecture. If you haven't stayed at one, they're pretty large, rectangular or triangular-ish buildings. The lobby opens up into a nice open area with fountains, plants, tables to relax, and so forth. However, you can see the entire hotel from that first floor. Looking up, it's completely open, and the rooms are on the perimeter of the building. There's big skylights at the roof, so there's generally lots of lot in the building, and not so much artificial light. They have elevators that have glass for the back wall, so you can watch everything as you ride them. These hotels are designed perfectly for the best games of elevator tag, let me tell you.
If I had to describe what sort of hotel the Embassy Suites is when you stay there in a single sentence, it would be:
"Don't plan on doing many touristy things during your visit, because the Embassy Suites provides all the fun you need."
Another nice feature is that each morning, a complementary breakfast is served. Just go to the first floor, and you can get a variety of food cooked for you, all as part of the perks of staying there. It's always a lot of fun.
[For the purposes of this story, I commonly use plurals such as "we said" or "our response." Really only one of us spoke at a time, but we as brothers have solidarity, so one person's comments serve as something each of us said, at least in spirit.]
It was the day after Christmas that I stayed in San Antonio, and the hotel was really busy. When we got up in the morning, my brothers and I meandered downstairs for breakfast. We weren't counting on a huge crowd, but the place was absolutely packed. We had to wait in line for over 20 minutes (which is pretty long for that place). When we finally had food, we thought we had been successful. We had beaten time and gotten to eat before they shut down breakfast for the day. But we were quite mistaken. Finding a table was a serious challenge.
We carried our trays, bearing food and drink, all over the place, keeping our eyes peeled for an open table. All we saw were masses of people, and no empty tables whatsoever.
At long last, we spied a table that had just been cleaned. Ecstatic, we rushed towards it, not about to let anyone else steal the table we saw first. Victorious, we set down our food, ditched the trays, and sat down to the breakfast of champions (that we were).
We were heartily enjoying ourselves, when all of a sudden, a middle-aged blonde-haired woman made a bee line for our table. This woman wore a massive scowl on her face, which did nothing to accentuate her features, nor make her appear to be a friendly person. Before we knew it, words emanated from her lips in wrath:
"You're eating my food! Those are my danishes!!!"
Each of us exchanged glances. We were certainly eating danishes, but if they were hers, she must have reserved the entire tray from which we obtained them. This was far from likely. Still, being nice people, we gave this some consideration, and then offered up a response:
"No we're not."
At this point, she recoiled and her scowl, though I didn't think it could do so, became even more exaggerated. Our reply obviously had struck a nerve.
"My husband and I are sitting at this table. We left our food here to reserve it."
At this point, her story suddenly started to become clear. They had evidently placed food on this table to reserve it for themselves, then had gone to stand in line and wait for a meal, never having enough foresight to think about the fact that a hotel employee does not care that an empty table bearing food will be used. They only care that there are people looking for tables, and this table bearing food has no people sitting at it. The only logical thing to do, then, would be to remove the food so that people can use the table. And remove the food they did.
We figured this out, and we were very quick to tell this painfully frustrated woman exactly what must have happened. Choosing words carefully, this is what we told her:
"This table was empty when we sat at it."
For you or me, this would most likely be enough information to satisfy every party involved, and recognize the misunderstanding. Do you think that was the case with her? Unfortunately for us, it wasn't.
Figuring she needed more clarification, we elaborated:
"This table had nothing on it when we sat down here."
Apparently, this woman had convinced herself that we were a bunch of punks, and she was not going to stand for it. She meekly said "okay" and then returned to the line.
After something like this, it is virtually impossible to return to the enjoyable breakfast and conversation before said rude interruption. There is only one direction conversation can go.
You guessed it: the woman and her pitiful lack of intelligence and common decency.
We continued eating, and talking about this, and then, lo and behold, a strange and predictable event occurred: a middle-aged man with black hair makes a bee line for our table (here comes hubby to save the day). I'm not sure about my brothers, but my eyes rolled practically into the back of my head as this man approached. The woman's husband was just as articulate and intelligent as she was, if not more:
"What are you guys doing? This is our table!"
"Look, man. We already told your wife the story, but we'll tell the same thing to you. The table was empty."
Man: "But we had food here to reserve it."
Us: "There was no food here."
Man: "But we had put food here."
Us: "Clearly, then, if you can put two and two together, someone cleared the table because they thought no one was using it. We got here after the fact."
And then he glared at us one last time, which I suppose was his threatening way of saying he wanted to fight, or else. I think it's clear that we were all adults in that situation. Except maybe him.
So the lesson of the day is......... well, I guess there is no lesson. We got to stay at our table and finish our meal in peace. The man and his wife got their food, and to our delight, had to search for several minutes before they found a table to sit it. Ah, sweet justice.
Maybe someday they learn simple etiquette and people skills, and develop some patience. But I have my doubts.