I walk through a cavernous hotel lobby every morning and every night en route to the subway or to retrieve my car. At first, I saw no one in this world within a world; I wallowed, instead, in my own work madness and newness.
But in the past month, I have taken a moment to glance around this odd little universe. At first, the constantly changing faces seemed difficult to navigate, impossible to read. And while none remain the same from day to day, I now see a pattern to the pulse of the place.
Mondays mean quiet time as the staff gears up for the week ahead. The parking lot is almost empty. The bellman smiles at me. The floors shine.
Tuesdays are very busy. Name tags sway on lanyards, some adorned with extra ribbons or pins that mean something only to a handful of other ribbon wearers on Mezzanine One. I’ve never been to Mezzanine One. I’ve only watched said name-tag wearers descend there on multiple escalators.
Wednesdays are days to walk with your head up, shoulders back, bag securely on your shoulder. “I’m a local,” you want your body language to shout as you push through the lobby throngs. Except the throngs don’t care. They outnumber you…until they hit the sidewalk outside and ask you directions. Then, you rule.
Thursdays mean flight crews from foreign airlines I’ve never heard of and will likely will never fly. The uniform-clad men and women drape across every available chair and sofa in the place. They are tired. They have worked some ridiculously long overnight shift, slinging soda and ice to row upon row of uncomfortable overseas travelers in coach who wonder where they’ll land once they land.
Fridays mean the end of the meeting, one last morning in a hotel room that’s all yours and yours alone before you head back to the home you share with your spouse and kids, one more enormous breakfast in the the lobby restaurant–and this time you eat the pastries. Everyone is smiling on Friday and no one grumbles about the long line in the adjacent Starbucks.
Saturday is dress-up day, when a homecoming dance or black-tie fundraiser or wedding or other formal event takes place on Ballroom One. Hairspray and cologne waft around the couples walking arm-in-arm, smiling self consciously in their finery, as they walk toward the elevators and escalators that will transport them away from the ordinary and into the magic. They are very careful not to snag a heel, unpin a curl, or wrinkle a top coat, but they don’t think twice about wondering where they can smoke a quick cigarette.
Sunday is a mystery. I am nowhere near the hotel this one day of week. Sunday is the day I reconnect with my own life and loves and needs.
Some days, though, I wonder what it would be like to book a room in this hotel, lie down on a comfy bed, draw the curtains, hang the ‘Do Not Distrurb’ sign on the door–and sleep for a week without ever seeing that lobby.