Thursday, February 10, 2011

Job Change Opens New Doors

For four years, I walked past the 21c Hotel in downtown Louisville, Ky., twice a day on my way to and from work. And almost every day, I exchanged some sort of mild pleasantry with the hotel’s doormen … a nod, a wave or a “hey.”

Our relationship wasn’t always this comfortable. In the beginning, it was downright awkward. A 21c doorman once mistook me for a hotel guest and tried to open the door for me. The suit and tie must’ve thrown him. I felt so badly that I nearly went into the hotel just to accommodate him. Instead, I passed clumsily by.

From then on, I employed several tactics to make sure this didn’t happen again. I walked faster past the hotel. I walked farther from the hotel. I even averted eye contact for awhile. After all, 21c is a pretty fancy hotel and the doormen could spend their time much better with actual tipping guests instead of some guy just passing through.

However, as the trips added up, the doormen eventually accepted me as a civilian in no need of entrance assistance. I walked closer to the hotel and slowed my pace. We exchanged twice daily greetings. The door remained hinged.

I changed jobs and hadn’t thought of this routine again until Friday night when my wife and I decided to stay the night at 21c. As I headed toward the hotel, I saw one of the regulars manning the door. Even though I hadn’t walked past the hotel in more than six months, I could see a faint glimmer of recognition in his eyes. To complicate matters, he knew me as nothing more than a passerby. Yet here I was clearly seeking entry. Time froze. The doorman gathered himself. He smiled and opened the door.

I was finally an actual paying guest in need of his services. It was a moment that was four years – and twice daily – in the making.

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