Thursday, May 10, 2007

Everybody Was Alone

I remember (as a young man) staying at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in midtown Manhattan, New York. I was there for a few days to attend a business conference for the company I worked for in California. Anyway, my room was not yet ready when I arrived. I was told it would be an hour before I could check in, so I made myself comfortable in the grand, spacious, and lushly appointed lobby. There was a kind of hushed reverence observed by all who entered, and by those who remained as well. Like a church.

I watched the people come and go, everyone projecting a sense of importance, an image of sophistication. I noticed there were others sitting around, looking at their watches, presumably expecting to meet someone, or like me, just waiting for their room. I observed a couple of high class hookers briefly greeting business men, hopeing for a deal; and some street walkers being turned away at the door. I made a mental note of the double standard. I watched somebody watching me like he wasn't really watching me. I watched him the same way. I noticed an attractive businesswoman sending subtle little signals to indicate she was open to making my aquaintence. I noticed the concierge keeping a close eye on me, presumably because I was dressed pretty casual for the setting, unlike the other patrons. The desk clerks dealt with whatever came their way, deflecting what they could, absorbing what they couldn't. I noticed the baggage handlers, servers, and maintenance staff checking out the women. Always careful to not be seen leering, to appear professional, even though they were obviously preoccupied and distracted. It was an interesting dance. And it was playing out on an interesting stage.

If not for the cost of the accommodations, and the particular clientele that could afford them, it could have been the lobby of a Public Health Clinic. Or a bus depot. Or a City park.

It was a place I'd never been before. But I'd been to places like it. It had a very familiar feel. It was the arena of life. That did not go unnoticed. Or unacknowledged.

Even though we were in such close proximity to one another, everybody in the lobby was alone.
Very much alone.
That's what I remember most.

Life is where they
keep you
while they're making up
your room.