October 26th, 2008

A friend of mine recently wrote a story about a professional conversationalist. It was fiction and he imagined his main character visiting the houses of the lonely, talking with them about their lives and their thoughts. Comforting the alienated was her job. It failed, the story, because his professional conversationalist was awkward. She fidgeted, was distracted and was coldly professional in the way we have come to think of prostitutes as professional. No person seeking genuine human interaction would have asked that character back week after week.

If I were to re-write that story for myself, I would model my professional talker after Frank, our bellman and weekend bartender. To chat with Frank is like curling up on an oversized, worn leather couch with a big soft blanket. It’s just so easy and comfortable. He asks lots of questions and really listens to the answers. He talks unselfconsciously about himself, his interests and projects. I think I didn’t properly understand before talking to Frank how much of a difference it makes when a person is really open and free when they talk about themselves, how much easier it is, then, to ask questions and be in a dialogue.

This makes him an excellent hotel employee, and we have appreciated all of the nearly three years he’s given us. Perhaps some of you readers can relate when I say that traveling, especially for work, can be lonely and alienating and so Frank is, not surprisingly, beloved by guests. But if all of this is making you want a little face time with Frank, come quick. Eventually he will move on to the career that his studies in marketing and advertising lead him to, but his even more immediate plan is to continue those studies on the big island of Hawaii. This move is most likely a year away, but the time will pass and then so will he and trust me, this is a guy you want to meet.

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