Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A strange sense of business

Now, the place I love to stay in Plettenberg Bay is a B&B called - somewhat alarmingly - "Sunshowers". It is on the lagoon and there is one room - room 5 - which has this utterly amazing view. Besides which, it is a HUGE room, tastefully furnished and wonderfully comfortable.

Over the many times I have been coming here, there has been a range of women who seem to run the place. Straightfoward, ordinary types. Not unpleasant. In fact, I have to say, very sweet and accommodating. I usually come with a black work colleague. Seeing I found the place, I have made it clear, that when I am in town, I get room 5. There has been grudging acceptance of this. However, my colleague also has her preferences, within the limited choices of the 5 suites that there are. So, she asked for another particular room.

Now, since coming here, and chatting with the people who run the place, we heard about the owners, who apparently, live on a farm in the Free State and don't seem to take a huge amount of interest in the place, leaving the people who run it to do just that. They weren't complaining at all, and as I said, the place is really wonderful. Well run, immaculately clean, efficient and very easy to return to.

So tonight, for the first time, we met the owner. She is a kind of stick-thin woman (I would say in her early thirties). She has that kind of "modern" look about her. Somewhat grungy - you know the type - layers of odd clothing - too tight fur collared jacket buttoned once in the middle, tie-dyed blond hair looking badly cut. Boots.

She greeted us at the door and told my colleague, immediately, that she was aware that she didn't like the particular room that she was going to put her in, "but I am the owner" she said, as though that settled the matter, "and I am staying in the room you usually stay in - so you have to have this other room".

Of course my colleague was disappointed, but accepted it, because it is, after all, only for one night. But I started to think the thing through. How absolutely weird! What extraordinarily peculiar business practise! Was it the same as me demanding to have room 5?

Well, no. It isn't. Both of us are guests, for goodness sake. Surely, the issue is that both of us should be made as happy as we possibly can be? How come I was being given the best room in the place and she the worst? Could it possibly be ... a little bit of racism? Just a touch, maybe?

Well, it is hard to tell, and impossible to prove - and naturally will be denied. But it is a question I have in my mind.

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