The Doorman


I had locked myself out of my car and, since a cool wind was blowing, I waited in the lobby of the hotel for the AAA to come and rescue me from the result of my inattention. I stood near the doorman and between his sporadic openings and closings and greetings of those who were coming and going we fell into conversation.

He was in his mid-sixties, tall and pail, but with an aire of borrowed elegance that was accented by his long black coat and top hat.

My first day on the job as a doorman, he volunteered.

You seem to know your way around and be pretty comfortable, I replied.

Oh, I have worked for 40 years as a bell captain, but my back is bad and I can’t carry suitcases any more, so I stepped down. I guess I have demoted myself.

Were you the bell captain at this hotel.

Yes. 13 years here, and 27 years at the Hyatt Rickey in Palo Alto.

You must have seen and heard some interesting things in all that time.

Not really. Occasionally, someone would check out and they would place a handbag or package on the roof of the car and drive off and forget it.

What is the most memorable thing that happened?

I have checked in a lot of famous people, but nothing unusual has ever happened.

The tow truck came, opened my door and I drove homeward, bathed in a vivid New Mexico sunset and tried to imagine a endless desert of time in which anonymous days shaded off into a grey horizon. A lonely void.