Over recent weeks and months I’ve been travelling quite a bit, mostly on business.
As a result I’m spending a lot of time in airports, hotels and, more specifically, hotel restaurants. And I’m becoming acutely aware of the subtleties of business travel and how people either relate to my circumstances or not as the case may be.
Let me explain what I mean.
I was staying in a hotel near Stourport recently. I stay there once a month and I’ve got that nasty place where the staff know me. It’s not quite as bad a few years ago when I had a very regular job in the Hilton Hotel neat Cobham. I was there for weeks at a time so I didn’t bother taking my clothes home, just got the hotel to clean them.
I arrived one Sunday night and Ahmad, the guy behind reception said, ‘Oh, hello Richard. Usual room your clothes are already in there!’
Great service, but it doesn’t half put your life into perspective.
Anyway, the hotel is never full but they always insist I book a table for dinner, which I duly did. So I fetched up at the appropriate time and, surprisingly there were a few people already eating. The waitress asked for my name and then shouted across the restaurant:
A voice answered, ‘What about him?’
And someone else came out to help me. Again at top volume she asked (it actually felt more like accused): ‘Table for one is it?’
She might as well have shouted: ‘Sad git are you sir? Away from your family chasing the bottom line are you?’
On the way home on Friday evening that same week I was sitting on an easyJet flight. I had the seat next to the window and an elderly couple sat in the middle and aisle seats.
We landed more or less on time and everyone else jumped up and started to collect their stuff… except the elderly couple, who didn’t budge. Eventually I had to stand up to make my point.
The lady looked up at me in surprise. ‘Are you in a hurry to get off? She asked.
Of course I am you stupid woman, I’ve been away all week and I’m dying to get home to my wife and my woofer!’ Was what I screamed in my head. What I actually said was: ‘Yes, I am rather…’ And smiled apologetically.
Ah, the joys of business travel.