Saturday, October 01, 2016


As I finished tying my tie, I picked up my phone and texted a quick question to the crew: "You guys in?" Back came the answer. "Missing paperwork. Waiting for building clearance." I sighed. I was in a hotel room, having gotten 3 hours of sleep after flying in from the last gig. I had been hoping for a hassle free morning, but the best laid plans and all that.

I riffled through my bag to find copies of the paperwork. The location was only a few blocks away; I could be there in 10 minutes. But strike two: I had the forms on my laptop, but hadn't printed them out. Sigh again.

Still, not a major setback. As with most hotels, I assumed here would be a computer in the lobby. I copied the documents to my memory stick, and headed downstairs. No problem, the manager assured me. In the back of the breakfast area was a setup, and I was welcome to use it.

The lounge had a smattering of tourists and business people, and a number of different languages tumbled about. There was a long counter with cereal, muffins and fruit. Next to a toaster and microwave, a young man in a shirt and tie was helping people with the do-it-yourself waffle iron. And at the end of the room, my savior: a keyboard, screen and a beat-up printer.  

I popped my stick into the computer and woke it up. I quickly pulled up the first document, and hit "print," waiting for the comforting hum of the printer going about its business. Nothing. I gave it a few more seconds, but it didn't come to life. I checked the computer and printer, but both seemed to be connected and functioning correctly. Strike three: the day was not getting off to a good start.

I went to the front desk, and explained the problem to the manger. He apologized, but before he could say anything else, the young man from the waffle iron stepped over. "C'mon, sir, I'll help you," he said with a smile. The manager smiled as well: "Not to worry sir. Anthony will get it going for you."

As we walked back into the lounge, Anthony greeted some newly arrived guests: "Good morning! Coffee's over there. Help yourself to anything. If you need help, I'll be right back." He then turned to me. "Sorry for the trouble, sir. I know my printer, and she's getting a little old. But don't worry, I know how to get her started." We walked over to the computer. He checked it as I had done: I tried all that, I said. He laughed: "Oh, so you know computers! Well, this one can be a little fussy. Just gotta show it some love, and she'll work." He opened the front panel and closed it. Then he gave it a little shake, and pressed the button on top. Sure enough, we heard a whir and my documents came tumbling out. I laughed as well and thanked him, as he went over to the help someone make waffles.

While the machine was printing, I got a cup of coffee and watched Anthony. He moved quickly from place to place, showing new guests where things were. He told an obvious boss about a table that was lopsided. When some people asked about the waffle iron, he explained it was for making "gofry." It looked it up later: Polish for waffles. Anthony's linguistic skills had their limits, however. The same folks brought a bottle over to him and asked him what it was. "Blueberry syrup" elicited blank stares. Not easily deterred, he quickly pulled out his phone, punched up Google Translate, and showed them the answer. They grinned broadly.

I stopped on the way out to tell the manager what a great employee they had in Anthony. As he wandered over as well, I told the manager how he not only helped me, but how much he was helping all the people in the back room. His boss smiled and agreed, but also admonished the guy that he had to get to work on time. Anthony grinned sheepishly, a detente of sorts. With that, I headed out. Of course, by the time I got there, the paperwork had been found. But printing it wasn't a total waste: it gave me a chance to meet Anthony.


Marc Wollin of Bedford enjoys meeting people. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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