Jilly D.

Reflections on trip to New York City in May

In Other on September 4, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Off the bus and into the flood of pedestrians walking the streets of Manhattan, I headed on foot towards The Travel Inn pulling my suitcase on wheels. Forty-Second Street is clean. No overwhelming fumes of rancid urine. No litter on the streets. No honking. Where have all the homeless gone? 

Without looking anyone in the eye but keeping wide my peripheral vision, I strut with determination down the streets to 44th  Street and Eleventh Avenue. The sign can be spotted half a block away with the hotel letters spelled out vertically above street level. I fooled myself with my street strutting behavior to show that I know where I am going. I am even on the right side of the street to enter the lobby.

Two steps up and I open the door without assistance; while my suitcase twists and turns and tumbles back onto the sidewalk. What an entrance to such a high class establishment. No door man.

Dark and cool inside, the front desk is quiet. There behind the computer screen sits a mature Indian man in a dark suit wearing a linen shirt. He does not look up.

I look at him. I notice how dark his complexion, how shiny his black hair, how smooth his brow. I continue to look at him standing before the check-in counter.

“Check-in is not until 3 p.m.” the man utters without looking up at me.

“Hello,” I say. “Yes, I know I can’t check in yet. I would like to check my bags and confirm my reservation.”

He points at the security officer sitting outside the security desk in the adjacent parking lot.

“Yes, Thank you. I know I can leave my bags there. I would like to confirm my reservation with you,” I say.

He looks up at me from his desk.

“Please. All reservations are handled on the telephone in the lobby,” and he points around the corner of his desk to a courtesy phone just out of eyesight from his vantage point as the lobby’s sentry. His elegant spoken accent of Queen’s English sounds so polite.

“Excuse me?” I blurt out. I am standing in front of him at his computer terminal on his desk and he refers me to the telephone?

“Please. Use the lobby telephone for reservations,” he tells me again.

I walk over to the telephone and pick it up. He is on the line.

“Reservations. How may I help you?” he says into the receiver. I hear him in my left ear on the phone and with my right ear I hear his voice less than ten feet away.

“I would like to confirm my reservation. I am checking in today at 3 pm,” I tell him as though he were in India.

“Please hold.” Click. He puts me on hold.

I turn around towards the front desk and stretch the phone cord just far enough to make eye to eye contact with this man sitting there with his feet on his desk. Doing nothing.

I slam that phone down. I pick up my bags and trot my suitcase right out of that lobby and towards the bag check without looking back. This is the New York City I know.

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