The lady was an exercise in elegance. Attached to her husband’s arm, she spoke in that crisp British accent we plain Americans tend to associate with pretension. Her manners were neat, her clothes – undoubtedly some Italian brand with one of those sesquipedalian surnames – delicately matched in colors appropriate for the spring season. The two were relaxing in the lobby, sitting on the couch, waiting for their epicurean appointment in the hotel restaurant. Their aperitifs sat on the glass table before them, some herbal infused concoction appreciated (I imagine) by those with discriminating tastes.
I had finished checking in but the hotel needed extra time to make some last-minute adjustments to my room. They motioned me to to waiting area adjacent to the reception. I took a seat on the sofa opposite the refined twosome. The lady instantly shot across a presumptuous look.
Was it my roughed up backpack? I had just spent the previous two days on a trek across the mountains of Northern Thailand. They were a bit mucked up from the dirt, my apologies. Was it the clothes? It took a sixteen-hour train ride from Chiang Mai for me to get to Bangkok. I didn’t have a chance to change into a fresh set of clothes. I do admit, I was looking a little haggard for a five star luxury hotel.
She turned to her husband and muttered in controlled disgust, “I can’t believe it, wearing flip-flops, here?”
I crossed my right leg over my left, my calloused big toe pointing at her, and gave her a little, sarcastic wink.
As chance usually does to persons in these sorts of unpleasant situations, I later found out my room would be next to theirs.