O HOLY NIGHT

My sister traveled to Washington, D.C. for business the latter part of this week. She is staying in a swanky hotel, the kind with fabulous views and sleek furnishings, and occupied by well-dressed people there on important business.

While talking to me on the cell phone in the elevator yesterday, repetitive robotic messages identifying the location of the elevator began sounding off and then I heard a third voice in the background, as if over a loudspeaker. “Oops. Hold on a sec.” Cyndi lowered her phone and I heard her say apologetically, “No, no, there’s no problem.” Followed by more muffled sounds over the elevator speaker- a woman‘s voice perhaps—and my sister sheepishly laughing while saying, “Yes, sorry about that. It was an accident. A total accident. I’m fine. Yes, thank you. ” My sister managed to stand too close to the button panel where her purse depressed the emergency button which in turn alerted the front desk to utilize the intercom for a wellness check.  (I hope she will be okay the rest of the trip without me to plan and look out for her.)

When Joel and I were married only nine months, we traveled to Israel for a two week study tour as part of Joel’s graduate degree, including several days in Jerusalem, the Holy City. We stayed in a nice hotel, the sort that offered room service. How convenient, because I am the sort that loves room service. Joel, to my surprise, did not love, nor even like, room service, and had not fully appreciated in the few short months of wedded bliss that a happy wife equals a happy life, especially when that wife is hot and tired. 

After a long, dusty, blazingly desert hot day among the ruins, we retired quite late to our room. Ah, a milkshake. Wouldn’t that taste good? Joel disagreed with the cost of a milkshake delivered by room service. I, in turn, disagreed with Joel. All was not harmonious in Jerusalem and the term holy might have been used by me as a adjective and not in religiously respectful manner. So, determined to at least obtain a milkshake by some other means, I struck out for the lobby.

Now 11 p.m., I found myself alone in a narrow elevator wide enough for only two people. The mirrors on the ceiling, walls, and doors failed to create the illusion of space. Suddenly, the elevator stopped in between the 7th and 8th floors. I rang and rang and rang the alarm button.  Enough alarm bells to wake the dead. Nothing happened. Inexplicably, after thirty minutes of ringing the alarm, the elevator magically descended to the lobby. The doors opened and the hotel manager, a well dressed man of Middle Eastern heritage wearing a suit and tie, apologized profusely. Okay, no problem. I am fine. With single-minded purpose, I asked, “Could I please have a milkshake?” “Oh (pause), no. It is the Sabbath and the kitchen is now closed.”

A second uniformed employee approached, Lurch’s Middle Eastern twin, wearing a belt of jangly keys on several round hoops about his hips. No, thank you. I do not want to ride with this stranger alone in the elevator, and more specifically, I do not want to ride that elevator. “Please, please, it is fine! He will make sure you get to your room“, the manager assured me. He ushered us back into the elevator against my better judgment.

As the hotel handyman and I became better acquainted standing shoulder to shoulder yet avoiding eye contact in the mirrors, you can guess what happened next.  Exactly. We came to a jerking halt, again, in between the 7th and 8th floors. The handyman slowly swiveled his head downward toward me and exhaled. I said only, “I told you so.” This time, he rang the bells. Fifteen minutes later the elevator descended again, where the doors slid open to reveal the extremely apologetic hotel manager wringing his hands. He ushered us through the closed kitchen —oh, the irony—- to the private service elevator and after an uneventful ride up, the perfectly gentlemanly employee escorted me all the way to our room door, the last one on the hallway and the furthest walk from the elevator bay.

Now Midnight in a foreign land and still milkshake deprived, I entered our room hopefully wondering if my newlywed husband missed me. Apparently not.  There he lay snoring loudly. Well, holy…..!

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