Tuesday, June 10, 2008

M.O.D. Grateful Dead

An exhausted and scruffy long haired young man in his late 20's was pacing nervously at the front desk. This is the sight that greeted me as I left the kitchen to respond to a guest at the front desk who was paging me. After completing the business with the guest, I turned to the nervous young man who I could now tell smelled of sweat. That is not too surprising since we're experiencing near triple digit temperatures yesterday and today. At first I thought he was one of the guests who was due to check into the hotel tonight. However, he didn't look like our usual guests. I asked him if I could help him. His dark eyes searched my face. His words were slurred as he asked if he could use "a land line" because his cell phone wasn't working. I took the front desk phone and placed it in front of him. I told him "Dial nine first then your number." His look was one of relief. His nervousness subsided somewhat. He talked haltingly, almost like he was drunk or on drugs. I couldn't tell for sure. He punched in a telephone number and then waited for an answer on the other end of the line. He glanced at me while the other line was ringing. The person he was calling answered. He started to talk to a Sarah. He was pleading with her, occasionally giving me quick glances. I wanted to give him some privacy so when the other phone line rang, I retreated to the back office to answer it. Finishing my phone call, I returned to the front desk just as he was hanging up. He told me that he was in trouble because he "broke down" in the town square (which is located right outside the front door of the hotel). He thanked me for letting him use the phone. He asked my name. I said "Ron." He didn't understand me as he stood in front of me, swaying slightly. Was he drunk? I repeated "Ron!" He still didn't understand. I said "Ronald!" again, louder. He raised his hand slightly as if to indicate to me that he had heard. He leaned in closer to me, trying to read my name on the nameplate I had pinned to my hotel issued shirt. I repeated my name again. He looked up at me and said "Oh, I know your name now. I was looking at your heart. I can see your heart. You have a heart that is very visible." Now I'm starting to feel a little uncomfortable because I don't know where this conversation is going. He told me "Speaking your language, my friend is really going to be PO'D." Maybe this is why his speech was odd, he had an accent. I asked him what his nationality was. He said "German, English, Lithuanian, and Palladian." Palladian?

(1. Greek Mythology Of, relating to, or characteristic of Athena.
2. Of, relating to, or characterized by wisdom or study.
[From Latin Palladius, from Greek Palladios, from Pallas, Pallad-, Pallas Athena.]

Now I'm really getting spooked. Did he just step off of a space ship? Was I looking at another E.T. standing unsteadily in front of me? I have met all types of people during the five years I've worked in the hospitality industry but this was the first time I've ever met a Palladian. He looked at me for a few seconds through his black eyes. I could not see his pupils. He must have sense my unease because he said "I am legally blind. I can see better with my glasses." He then took out a small pair of very dark sunglasses and put them on. Now he did look like one of those giant insect eyed space alien type creatures that landed in Roswell, Texas. I could still smell the faint odor of sweat from his body. He extended his hand over the front desk counter towards me. I extended my hand to him. He have me a warm and firm handshake that seemed to exude his goodwill towards me. His handshake was not one of those bone crushing handshakes that are all too common in our male dominated society. He held my hand a few seconds longer than is probably the social norm. He smiled at me, then released my hand. He turned around and walked down the short corridor to the hotel lobby. He left me wondering "What was that all about?" Then I heard a muffled yelp. I thought "What now?" He came back that same corridor to the front desk and looked down on the floor. I leaned over the counter to see what he was looking at. It was his backpack. I said to him "You forgot your backpack." He looked up at me and with a peaceful smile on his face said "No, there was a reason I forgot it." He pulled up his backpack from the floor and positioned it in front of me. He asked me to read what was written on it. "MOD - Grateful Dead". What in the world? This is getting spookier and spookier. I asked him what that meant. He said "Mark Oliver Dun - Grateful Dead." Mark Oliver Dunn was his name and the Grateful Dead his favorite musical group. He looked into my eyes and said "We all die and come back again." Was I looking at Jerry Garcia's reincarnation? In an attempt to bring the conversation back down to earth I said "Janis Joplin was one of my favorite singers and she died at the age of 27, the same age as I was at that time." Knowingly, he smiled. He hoisted his backpack on his back and extended his hand again to me. I gave him my hand and again, he gave me a firm warm handshake but this time he stroked the top of my hand with his other hand a few times. Then he turned and walked away again through the hotel corridor and lobby and out the front door. For a few moments I stood thinking, trying to sort out what I had just experienced. Working at the front desk of a hotel, I get many requests for information and help. Sometimes a guest will thank me but, usually, they quickly leave the front desk to go about their business. I don't usually get the kind of response that I got last night from "MOD". In fact, I have never gotten that kind of response before in my five years of working a hotel front desk. After a few minutes I went upstairs to the fourth floor to look out the window on the square in order to see his "breakdown." He told Sarah on the phone that he would be in the Gazebo on the square waiting for her. There was no sign of him in the square. Several hours later, when I finished my shift, I walked through the square to the gazebo just to make sure he wasn't still waiting for Sarah. He wasn't there. The gazebo was empty. I don't know where he came from and I don't know where he went. However, one thing I do know, he saw right through me.


  1. Ron,

    This is great. This is an element you should explore more, little snippets of the people and events that cross by you in the hotel life. Vivid, gripping. It did bring a question to mind. Do you have a means to quickly summons help if you need it. Did this guy make you nervous? He would have me.

    But look at this, two days running with real human interest tales of different people, Sasha and MOD. Now, can you top it tomorrow?

    I mean it, Ron, you're getting better every day.

  2. No, I did not feel in danger. Yes, there are many human interest stories in my line of work. However, I have to respect the privacy of my guests so probably any stories I tell about my work would involved those who are not guests of the hotel.


Comments are always welcome except from SPAM bloggers. I answer all comments. Have a great day!