Saturday, May 24, 2014



Claude is ashamed that he needs people in his hotel to be kind to him, but he does.  In one hotel, where he was intending to stay just a few days, the staff spoke to him so tenderly it brought tears to his eyes.  He stayed in that hotel for a month.  All his life Claude has addressed people as though they were injured forest creatures.  Now he yearns to be addressed in that same way.

At this latest hotel no one is friendly at all.  No questions or banter, no smiles, even though Claude is very polite and very smiley, determined, above all, to be culturally sensitive, and thus extremely careful, always bowing and flinching, tip-toeing in and out the door of the hotel where the receptionist lady passes him the key and the boss turns away and that is all.

One afternoon Claude propositions his tuk tuk driver.  (As has often been noted, rigid prescriptions for correct behavior have a remarkable tendency to evaporate instantaneously.)  The tuk tuk driver turns out to be not only willing but enthusiastic.  Overwhelmingly enthusiastic, in fact.  Downright keen.  He wants to give as much as he wants to receive.  More, even.  That tuk tuk driver reciprocates as much as human being can.

Taken aback by this unexpected level of attention, Claude abruptly finds himself at the extremes of pleasure and, not knowing what else to do, screams for three minutes at the top of his lungs.

From this point on, every time Claude walks in or out of his hotel, everyone smiles at him.

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