I spend a lot of time in hotel rooms. During my career as a jury/trial consultant, I have traveled across the U.S.A. to work with attorneys. Part of my travel experience is staying in hotels in the cities where I am working. In places where Magnus works on a frequent basis, such as David’s hometown, Jacksonville, Florida, I prefer to stay in the same hotel every time we are in town. I am fond of room service meals, thus, I always try to stay in a hotel that offers room service (24 hours a day, if possible). And, of course, when I am in my hotel room, I always listen to music, played as loudly as possible, while hoping not to bother other guests. (As an aside, the last time a TV was turned on in my hotel room was when I went on a road trip with my brother several years ago. And, it was my brother, not me, who turned on the TV. As far as I am concerned, there might as well be no TV in my hotel room.) One morning, many years ago, I was listening to music in my hotel room while preparing for a mock jury project in Jacksonville and waiting on my breakfast order to be delivered from room service. Someone knocked on my door and I continued dancing to the wonderful 70s R & B music that was playing as I answered the door. In came Theo to bring my breakfast. When Theo heard the music I was playing and saw me moving to the beat as I greeted him, he remarked that I sure do have good taste in music! I explained that I made a play list I call “cafeteria music” which is comprised of 70s R & B music that was played in my high school cafeteria. I always, without exception, play music from this play list when I am preparing for a mock jury or getting ready to go to the courthouse to select a jury. Theo and I continued our discussion of music, including our fondness for James Brown, The Isley Brothers, The Temptations, and more, until we both realized we had better return to the day’s tasks. Since our meeting and bonding over music, Theo and I have become friends. The first thing I do when I check into the hotel where Theo works is ask if he is working. If so, it makes my day! I am writing this post on Theo’s birthday, December 4, as my tribute to my friend. One never knows where and when one will meet someone who becomes a friend. Theo, my friend, you rock!
Anonymity is the norm when traveling. Different flights, different airports, different hotels, and different restaurants. It is a relatively rare situation to end up getting acquainted with someone who works in one of these places. And, if you do see a familiar person from time to time on subsequent trips, the connection is generally perfunctory. Then, there is Theo. Theo is a unique person, no doubt. But, in addition to Theo and one other person who, coincidentally, worked at the same hotel, I can’t think of many with whom we’ve had more than a passing acquaintance. In fact these 2 people have become part of our extended world of friends on the thing called FaceBook. Seeing these individuals as more than a server or banquet manager reminds me how often we only know someone’s work face, the work “costume,” a uniform in Theo’s case, but in such encounters, we don’t know the person wearing the uniform. We don’t know their ups and downs. They don’t know ours. Yet, we interact on a basis where the roles are known, even if the people aren’t. It is nice to cross that divide once in a while.