Sunday, July 5, 2009

I will never learn . . .

So my company sent me to Prague . . . . or rather, they off-shored my job and I came along, having attached myself like a remora to a shark . . . so I settled into the Intercontinental for a long stay before I actually moved to Prague . . . like an orientation trip, if you see what I mean, and I developed a comfortable rut within the confines of such a novel experience . . . brekky in the hotel (the finest "free" brekky I ever had), walk down to the Starometska station, then the same job as I had in phoenix, lunch with a small beer (god bless the civilized europeans!), work some more, then train back to the hotel for room service and web surfing -- or sometimes venturing out for dinner -- it was fricking February, so, down by the river, especially, the night air could be a little chilly for my thin arizona blood.

There'd been confusion about the length of my stay at first, whether 6 days or 6 weeks, but we eventually compromised on 3 weeks . . . the hotel said it was ok part of the time, but I'd have to leave for my last week at the Hilton, instead . . . no biggie . . . on the 9th, I wrote in my diary . . .

so on the 5th, following my usual routine, I came back to the hotel, disdaining dinner outside, planning on going to the spa after dinner for a swim and a jacuzzi in their fabulous facility . . . on a whim, I went to the rooftop restaurant, thinking a more elegant meal was in order, but they were having a full-blown wine-tasting/meal-pairing -- too much, so I opted for a simple room service cuisine.

While I was waiting for dinner, the door was knocked, and a maid rushed in -- she seemed surprised to see me and I was surprised to see her . . . they had not been turning down my bed, but this night, they did and left a chocolate on the pillow, a bath-mat by the bed with slippers, and some other housekeeping flourishes I forget.

"That's weird" I tho't.

When my meagre dinner came, I took the time to get comfortable, before settling in. Halfway thru dinner, another perfunctory knock preceded an unexpected intrusion by the housekeeping staff -- some sort of inspection -- I was irritated, now . . . my fault for not setting the lock, but I seriously was contemplating a complaint to the front desk about their turning my hotel room into grand central station -- she made a face like a pufferfish and backed right out, understandably upset by the sight of me nosshing in my underwear, but I was similarly unnerved . . . then my phone rang.

It was the hotel manager. In short, he wanted me to leave immediately, and I wanted to stay to the 9th as I tho't we had agreed, but he was adamant that it was the 5th, instead. I was amost equally resolute in my certainty, but in the end, I reckoned if they wanted me to go I didn't want to stay. So I packed up like the russian tanks were rolling on Vaclavsky Namesti again, and relocated to the Hilton.

I didn't at the time, but now I see that I simply made a mistake about the date so I was plenty huffy, prevented from making a horrible scene both at the Intercontinental and the Hilton by some empirical cunning based on the experience that when I am wrong I feel most outraged.

So I fiddled around unpacking and catching up on email and Da Bears after I got to the Hilton , after being summarily (and apparently justifiably) evicted from the Intercontinental, till around 10 pm, and then I started to head down to the SPA, to relax . . . the Intercontintal spa is open 24 hrs, but . . . naturlich, the Hilton’s closes at 10 . . .

so I took off my cozzie and got dressed again, and went down to the bar . . . there were a few people in there, not many, and a gorgeous bartenderesse, so I made straight for the bar . . . she acknowledged my presence, and I spoke: “make me a martini that will make me feel like I spent 2 hours in the spa, since it closed at 10” . . .

she looked startled, and slightly alarmed, so I clarified: “beefeater martini, up, stirred-not-shaken, with an extra olive!” all with appropriate, or inappropriate, depending upon your POV, hand-gestures and facial expressions.

So by now, she was cowering up against the back bar, as far from me as she could get, when a bartender who DID speak English inserted himself, and asked me if I wanted it dirty . . . “Dirty? Oh, Dirty!” I practically shouted, as he retrieved the olives from the refrigerator – then “NOT DIRTY” as he started to pour the olive juice into the shaker with the gin. “NOT DIRTY”. Oh!

Even when-and-IF I learn to speak passable Czech, I will still be misunderstood, even as I am often misunderstood in so-called English speaking realms, because my sense-of-humor is so . . . . . . . .I have to learn to say first of all, “Do you speak English?” the same way I have learnt to say, “Can you hear me” when phoning on my cell phone with the head set on . . . but even then, when I am certain my bartender speaks english, and is waiting for my order, I should say, “Yes, something potent, slivovice’, since I will have a hangover, anyway, tomorrow!”


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