Day Three: The Bellhop
It was the same nightmare again. This time he was ready for it. He was lucid, but had not panicked to such a state that he was fully awake. So he was having a lucid nightmare, then, he thought to himself. So be it. He tried to note as many of the details as possible. Yes, the scene was in black and white, as it had been so many times before. He was standing at the bar, and there was someone who looked angry, probably the prosecuting attorney of some kind, bring up before the court various evidence. He saw, and startled a bit when he did, a box that looked like the box that sat on his desk. He now had a vague idea about what he had been on trial before, and why he was here. For what offense had he been made a prisoner, he thought? It could only be that his loneliness had brought him to despair, and he was being sentenced to be confronted by that despair for an indefinite period of time, to show that he had mastery over his emotions, and would not let them destroy him again. So, why, if loneliness was his punishment, had he been given the opportunity to be around people again? And what was inside that box? Was it the same thing that the box had inside of it here? If so, that could only mean one thing. He thought to himself what it meant, and what its implications were. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that it explained so much about what was so odd in his life.
He mentally filed away his dream and hoped that he would be able to remember it, as he had forgotten so much else. He woke up and turned to the Bible for his daily reading. Most of it had to do with the generosity of the Corinthians and other brethren, and his eye briefly stopped upon this passage: “I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich. And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” He wasn’t sure why this passage in particular stuck out to his attention. After all, he did not think himself rich and wondered about his isolation from other people, as well as the wide difference between intention and performance. That was, of course, the sort of problem that many people had to struggle with, and it was an issue that certainly resonated deeply with him, as it no doubt did with many others as well. He was sure that many people needed encouragement that what was expected of them was dependent on what they were able to do, although what we thought we were able to do and what others thought was, of course, very different.
He got up and showered and changed into his work clothes. He looked over his room and saw the box on the desk and he frowned a bit. Then he went to the lobby to see that there were no phone messages and no new messages on the work computer. He moved to do his inspection of the rooms on the third floor, which was, as he expected, pretty mundane. As usual there was no trace of any sort of life form in the rooms, or that any had ever been in the room. The rooms were, as always, exactly how they should be, and he examined them with thoroughness although it did not require his full attention as he had done it so many times before with the same result. After he finished looking through all of the rooms without anything of interest going on, he looked at the artwork that was in the hall at the point where the corridors split equally to the left and to the right. This was much less artistic than the other ones, and yet there was something to the image that gave him the creeps. He knew it was something he recognized, but he didn’t know exactly where it came from. And then it came to him, that this was a picture of the Panopticon, the model prison of the 19th century where prisoners were observed at all places and times by the all-seeing eye. He shivered a bit when he thought about it. There was something of that nature in a great deal of contemporary life, he thought. People lived their lives continually being watched by cameras in stores, by software on work computers that monitored their actions and found them, all too frequently, to be not doing what they were paid to do, as if they would rather write than work, for example, as well as by cameras in public places that kept the all seeing eye upon whoever the authorities wanted to pay attention to. That sort of thing had always bothered him on a visceral level, and here it was, some of the beginnings of the all-seeing eye and its importance in society. Like many people, he did not consider himself a particularly interesting person to watch. He knew that if someone did find him interesting, though, there was little that would be able to stop someone from looking at him during nearly everything he did, and that was not a thought that he found comforting. Was that something that bothered people about God, the fact that there was no thought, much less action, that was secret from His notice, and so much that one wanted desperately to not be noticed?
He returned to his desk to see that there had been no messages during either his inspection of the rooms of the third floor or his reverie in front of the drawing. There was nothing new in the intranet either, and so he thought he would try again to replace the towels in the only other occupied room in the hotel. Once again he went to the laundry room and brought the card over to room 113. And once again there was a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging on the door, so he shrugged his shoulders and toted the cart back to the laundry room. What was the harm done in being conscientious, even if he was thwarted again in trying to help out the ladies? At worst one got a bit more exercise, as there was no way he was going to open the door and put himself in harm’s way. Even if he knew that he was not a threat to anyone, there was no certainty that this awareness was general, and he would rather not cause any trouble, which would occasion an unfriendly operation in the HR sections of his handbook that he had been fortunate to avoid so far. He didn’t think the kiss was out of bounds, but he figured that to be safe he should probably report that he was getting along rather swimmingly with Kate. He figured that management already knew, but he also thought it would likely be good for him to mention it before they decided it was an unpleasant issue to bring up. If one had bad news, one wanted to be the one reporting it.
He got to his desk and decided, with a bit of a heavy heart, to type out a message. “To Whom It May Concern,” the message began. “As HR regulations require me to inform the management of any personal relationships I have, I feel it necessary to inform you all that I had a date last night with Kate _________ that ended in a kiss before she went to her room. In looking at the relevant materials, I do not believe that this relationship is inappropriate, but I did feel it necessary to let you all know. Regards, __________.” He wondered if the news that he had indeed kissed a beautiful young woman would be the occasion for any laughter or titillation among the people he sent the message to, but he did not really care. Life had been lonely for him, as no doubt anyone familiar with his situation would understand, and he could hardly be blamed for being so appreciate for some sort of affection in his life. He was sure that if anyone else had found themselves through little or no fault of their own in the same spot that they would likely not be as restrained as he was, but he did not believe it would be right to take advantage of his liberty to go into any room as an excuse to engage in any sort of immoral trysts, which would definitely be a sanctioned activity according to the regulations of the hotel, unless it occurred during hours when he was not working and the room was returned to its proper state by the end of the following day, which would be a lot of work but would probably be worth it to many people, he reasoned to himself.
His reverie after sending the message was disrupted by a sudden phone call. “Hey, it’s Kate,” she said. “Good afternoon,” he replied thoughtfully. “I was thinking about our date tonight.” “Alright, what were you thinking?” “Would you mind eating a little bit early and eating something light?” “Sure, no problem. I’m sure I could whip up a salad and sandwich pretty quickly. Was there anything you wanted to look at today?” “Well, is there any sort of view here?” “There is one place we can look at for a view, if you’d like. But we’d probably have to finish eating by about 4 to 4:30 in order to see much of anything.” “What time is it now?” “It’s about 3PM.” “I’ll through on something and meet you at the lobby.” “Sounds good to me. See you soon,” he said. “You don’t mind going out in your work clothes tonight, do you?” “No, that’s fine with me, as long as you don’t mind it.” “Of course I don’t mind at all,” he replied, smiling to himself a bit even though he knew she couldn’t see it. “Alright, I’ll get ready and see you in a few,” she said before hanging up the phone. Normally, he was the sort of pessimistic person who could be relied upon to think of any such conversation as awkward because he felt uncomfortable even if he and the other person did not exactly say anything wrong, but he was having too good of a time enjoying his conversation with her to think of it as awkward. He understood that near strangers did not have the same ease of conversation that people had after long familiarity, and even with a lot of experience around someone some people remained awkward in their dealings and conversations because there was too much of a gulf between what was inside them and what they could comfortably express. It was with such thoughts of these that he waited at the lobby, hoping that there would be some kind of reassuring e-mail before his date tonight, but that was not to be. And so it was that when around thirty-five minutes later Kate showed up in a casual but lovely arrangement of clothing, that it was time for them to begin their date. Let me sign out, he said, quickly punching his clock a bit early for once, and then it was off to the restaurant for their date.