Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Robert Fulgham writes from Crete

Sorry, but this isn't from a blog. No permalinks, so if you want to find it you have to look at the Journal for Tuesday, May 3. I am not using italic because there is italic in the piece which would vanish. Besides, plain font is easier to read. Blue means it's Robert Fulgham's work, not mine.


Next Sunday, May 8, is Mother's Day in the United States. (But not here in Crete.) I will observe the occasion from a distance by telling a story I have been saving since last October.

My host for a weekend conference had put me up in a new high-end hotel.
The Ritz.
In the reception area was the concierge desk, manned by two young men in frocked coats, bearing the crossed keys of their profession.
Sleek as seals – handsome Italianate faces right out of an Armani ad.
Enthusiastically eager to be of any help I might require.

All I needed was a new leather band for my reliable old wristwatch. And a new shoestring for my shoe.
If I had wanted to buy a new Ferrari, they could have helped me right away.
If I had wanted a private jet to take to me Dubai, no problem.
If I had needed a table for ten to honor a Grand Duke, done.Tickets for any opera in the world, piece of cake.

But a watchband? A leather one? For an old watch? And a shoelace?
One moment, please.
Consultation in English, Italian, and French of computer, Rolodex, and telephone books.Nothing.

A third character entered the pursuit:The lovely young blonde female front desk manager. She has monitored the situation.
"Marcel," she calls, raising her eyebrows. "X?" she asks.
Marcel writes a few words on a piece of paper and passes it to her.
"Please wait a moment, sir," says Marcel. "Please take a chair."

Meanwhile, the young woman smiles at me, makes a phone call, writes a note, and passes it to Marcel, who glides over to my chair.
There are two addresses and a small map on the piece of paper.
"What you wish is nearby. Shall we send someone for you or shall we make an appointment? Would you like us to arrange a car and driver to take you?"

If I had replied that I wished him to carry me piggyback, he might have.

So. What had happened?
When I returned with my new watchband and shoelace I noticed that the concierge desk was momentarily vacant, and felt free to ask the young woman who she called.

"What does 'X' mean?"
"Promise not to tell," she said.
"I will be discreet," I said.

"When all other information resources of the concierge desk of the Ritz Hotel fail, we call my Mom."
"Your mother?"

"Yes. She's a retired schoolteacher, lives in this area, knows everybody, and is out and about in the world. We have not stumped her yet. I never realized how much my mother knew until I got this job. Occasionally the hotel invites her to stay as our guest as thanks. We refer to her as Agent X."

Thanks, Mom. Happy Day.

1 comment:

Roy Schoenberg said...

Dear Mr.Fulgham...MY wife and I read your books many years ago.We tried desperately to recall your name and asked many acquaintances through email, face to face and all media to respond. Finally one friend emailed your name to us and made our day. We will inform all of them that you are still with us.
When I wrote you long ago enclossing a poem about dandelions (a subject in your book) your wife sent us a lovely response from you.
Now we researched you on google and will tell them you are still here. How are you and your wife doing? You reinfoced my feelings about the continuing beauty of what is called a weed and still warmly remembered....Roy Schoenberg