Here’s a dialogue I had with a hostel owner in Cairns over Christmas. We’d left and popped back a week or so later to charge some bits and meet some friends..
A. What are you doing here?
L. Ah no, dont worry, we’re only back to pick up Jess and Marcus, charge a couple things and then we’re off to milla milla falls…
A. But you’re still rinsing our facilities? Just because you’ve stayed here before doesn’t give you free reigns to make your run of the place.
L. It’s ok Annie, this is the last you’ll see of us.. -awkward silence- How will asylum hostel cope at Christmas without your two best cooks? I suppose you’ll have t..aand she was no longer listening. She waits politely for me to defer the rest of her reprisal and starts again after I finish some shit joke about pan fried turkey and ice cream…
A. Think about it please, what’ll we have left that is limited to the guests? We have to garner some kind of exclusivity here or we’d be a freeforall. Every aboriginal on the street would have a cushion to rest their heads and a place to do their laundry.. she pauses a moment to uncrease the skin on her forehead.. And we’d be renouncing the label of business and accepting that of charity, no?
She has a point. I can sense my restlessness again, her being so uncommonly frank in her adressals to the guests – no pandering to charm and negligence. As I shyly retrieve my camera charger and continue labouring over my last enpanicked attempt at a joke, she keeps her pale, expressionless eyes on me, waiting for a reply.. Makes me shake at the knees, retreat into my head. I see who I am in the space between us. Steadfastness and resolution pitted against naivity and arrogance. I dont know which insight stirs me more; that she doesn’t suffer fools or that I am the fool.
L. ‘Yeah I suppose. So much for Christmas cheer ey.’ Is all that I can muster before stepping out the door..
Were we a worthy target of her hostility, or might she have gone in a little easier? Either way, she certainly made an impression on me..
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