A Story Behind Every Door…..

When you work in a hotel with a thousand rooms, you can expect an equal number of unique encounters with every type of human being imaginable.

And some you would never have expected.

He was a nondescript, timid, slightly frail white senior who could barely look me in the eye, courtesy of a back curved by the rigors of time. She was difficult to make out at first, as the air in the room was thick with smoke and and the glare of the morning sun. Upon closer examination it was obvious time had been far more cruel to her.

Her hair, what remained of it, was hidden beneath a scarf and her hand shook as she pressed yet another cigarette to her chapped lips. She could no longer move without a walker or a cane and her eyes remained directed at the floor the entire time I gathered their luggage.

I was waiting for the service elevator when a faint tap emanated from the other side of the swinging door.

GUEST: I forgot your tip in the room! I left $10 for the housekeeper and $4 for you!

THE HOOK: You’re not exactly motivating me sir….

GUEST: Can you get it yourself? I left my keys in there! We’ll meet you downstairs.

Of course, my master-key picked that exact moment to die. Classic Hook moment, right?

My only hope at a tip, even a meager one, seemingly shot down, I made my way to the valet deck where my couple was waiting. He lovingly helped her into their Caddy (why do old guys love Cadillacs?) and popped the trunk and watched intently as I loaded their bags. Despite the earlier mishap, he still tipped me $5 and left me with a few things to ponder….

GUEST: Thanks for everything. Sorry about forgetting your tip, she had an accident in the room last night…

THE HOOK: No harm done. I hope she’s all right….

GUEST: She has a few weeks left. Cancer.

THE HOOK: I…..don’t know what to say, sir.

GUEST: It started in her colon, then the lungs, brain, and finally it entered her bones.

THE HOOK: How long have you been married?

GUEST: Ten years now.

At that point, I was speechless and so we simply shook hands and he went on his way, off to a dark future that will no doubt seem bereft of hope for some time. I wish I could have summoned some words of wisdom, but my mind was reeling from shock.

Could The Hook possibly have composed words to sufficiently comfort a man facing such a significant and inescapable loss?

Could anyone?

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
This entry was posted in Hotel Employees, Hotel Life, Life, Postaweek2011, Social Commentary, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to A Story Behind Every Door…..

  1. mairedubhtx says:

    What a touching story. Somehow, life doesn’t seem fair sometimes.

  2. Tom Huff says:

    Tough situation. Sounds like you handled it well. Not much you can say…

  3. Woman says:

    You know Mister The Hook… you are a mighty fine writer!!! And in that situation? I don’t think anything you or anyone could say would be suitable. Could just be he told you so he can hear these words aloud. If it were me? I would have said a sassy comment of maybe, “Hope they have been the best ten years of your life Sir”, with the hopes of him smiling at it.

    Your words are touching.

  4. gmomj says:

    That sucks.
    That is life. Terminal.
    Death and taxes, you know.
    I volunteered in Osler 8 at Johns Hopkins for a while after my brother died of cancer. It is an Aids floor. What I learned is this. People don’t open up and tell you their story unless you have done something to make them feel safe and secure doing so. So, whatever that man needed from you you had already given him, and he was able to share his human experience with you.

  5. Aaron Babcock says:

    A sobering post. I wouldn’t have known what to say either. I wish those two the best, with however much time they have left to spend together. That would be a hard road to walk on.

  6. Eric Sylvester says:

    My humble opinion? Sometimes I don’t think people need to say anything comforting. I’m sure that couple has heard comforting cliché after comforting cliché, and probably for some time now.

    Sometimes you don’t need to hear anything back. Sometimes you just gotta vent, talk, or open up to somebody, even (and sometimes especially) a complete stranger who doesn’t HAVE to give you those clichés. I’m sure he felt better just getting it off his chest, and off his mind for a moment.

    I think you did the right thing by only shaking his hand, Hook. That’s probably all he wanted.

  7. penpusherpen says:

    You’re so right, Hook, I don’t think anyone could. and the way you described the whole scenario had me spellbound from the start. So much pain and tragedy in this World, and he sounds one who is facing it head on. xPenx

  8. Beautifully written. Sometimes silence speaks those words we find hard to say. At time like that I just bite my lip and offer my apologies.

  9. mybrightspot says:

    Sometimes the only thing you CAN say is,
    “I’m sorry. There are no words.”

  10. …why do old guys love Cadillacs?…

    Cadillacs used to be it. Elvis collected Cadillacs. At some point, we all become frozen in what we perceive as cool. When I was a kid, only losers wore shoes; cool kids wore running shoes. My girls all wear shoes, and gripe about wearing runners for gym. I think they’re nerds, they think I’m out of touch. Maybe we’re both right.

    Life is very sad, and that Cadillac is going to be a lot emptier and lonelier in a few weeks. Coupled that with the realization that she most likely isn’t the first wife he’s lost…

  11. KiNgDeeM says:

    Some times a simple sorry is all you can say and think thats all he was looking for

  12. hawleywood40 says:

    I don’t think anyone could find the right words. But you listened. And you cared. And you captured a moment in their lives here forever and ever. That’s a hell of a lot more than just something.

  13. Kim says:

    Very well written… I’m glad I read this

  14. You had me at this line: “He was a nondescript, timid, slightly frail white senior who could barely look me in the eye, courtesy of a back curved by the rigors of time.”

    And I was beside you till the end.

    Nice work. In many ways.

  15. Could The Hook possibly have composed words to sufficiently comfort a man facing such a significant and inescapable loss?

    Could anyone?

    No. But he felt he could tell you. By listening, you were there for him, Hook.

  16. Awww 😦 How sad.
    You listened and offered your hand…that was a sweet gesture in and of itself.

  17. Thats very touching Hook.. Din expect that ending… 10 years to end that way, he must be very brave to take it all…

  18. Too much of ‘that’ in my comment.. Din realize ‘that’ 😉

  19. “I don’t know what to say” is sometimes the best (and only) thing you can say. This post was really well done.

  20. raisingdaisy says:

    What a poignant story. You said exactly what should be said, but I suspect your obvious compassion warmed his heart and gave him just what he needed. And I bet you went home and hugged your family just a little bit tighter….

    Really well expressed story, Hook. You moved me.

  21. mindslam says:

    I understand buddy…what in the world could or would you say? I think yours was good!

  22. blaqueberri says:

    I agree with tom huff,
    you handled it very well.

  23. I agree and think he just needed someone to talk to. I don’t think he expected you to say anything, but just needed to voice his pain, perhaps to make it real to himself. Denial is one of the emotions we go through with death, and for many of us we start suffering before the loved one is ever gone. I know I did with my folks. Nothing prepared me for the end even though I knew it was coming. What’s important is that he saw that something special in you that told him he could tell you and you wouldn’t try to ‘fix’ it with words. That says a lot about your character, Hook. And you were trying to pass yourself off as an asshole! Must not be doing a very convincing job if lil old men can see right through you. 😉

  24. Caroline says:

    Wow, what a touching story. Very well written as well. I don’t think I’d be able to muster any words of wisdom on the spot either. But, I think what you said/how you handled it was just perfect. It’s so sweet to see that he’s still so loving towards his wife. My prayers are with her.

  25. Wendy says:

    My friend has the same type of cancer. She has a husband and four children. The doctors have given her 1-4 years. It will be a long battle for her.

    You just never know what people are dealing with.

  26. This was a beautiful post, Hook…loved it!

    Wendy

  27. mizqui says:

    Oh wow. A day in the life of THE HOOK…. how distant yet intimately touching. Wow. I don’t know what else you could have said. I suppose your LISTENING ear and CARING heart sufficed in response to the topic. Again…wow. Immediately we are reminded that Life is frail; Life is fragile; Life is mortal, and I (my friend) am HOOKED ✓

  28. mizqui says:

    FYI — I just reblogged this piece on my site. YOU ROCK HOOK!!!! …and the read is awesome too.

  29. Artswebshow says:

    That is a very difficult situation to endure.
    I think you handled it rather well

  30. Wow! I totally didn’t see that ending coming. What a twist of sorts. I’m glad you didn’t go for a silly sitcom line like, “But what about my tip?” or something hackneyed like that. You instead went for the bittersweet sentimental touch. It doesn’t always have to be jokes. This story does make you wonder about that inevitable till death do you part though.

  31. inidna says:

    I read this post while I was out in the province for my work trip and I remember opening it thinking that it would be another amusing story that The Hook, without fail, presents on a daily basis; instead it was one of those sentimental posts that pops up now and again. Such a touching story to read Mr. Hook! It made me smile a bittersweet smile and tear a little tear (I know, I know). Thanks for sharing this with us – I don’t know what I would have done if I found myself in your situation, but you handled that very well 🙂

  32. Jaan says:

    I read this one after reading “The Sorted Tale of Housekeeper X!”. I thought I was going to read another funny incident at your hotel but this post is totally different from others. I would have done the same if I were you at that time. You cared, cared enough to blog it here. You made us think of some parts of life that we don’t notice everyday. That’s what important. nice post!

  33. Pingback: “Do You Have Any Pushmobiles?” « You've Been Hooked!

  34. brittany220 says:

    Wow, I wouldn’t know what to say either. I think you handled the situation well though by shaking his hand and what not.

  35. Pingback: Another Week… « You've Been Hooked!

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