Friday, February 11, 2011

The concierge

In the USA our building had a concierge whose name is Manny. He was a giant of a man, in his mid thirties and spoke with a thick northwestern accent. He always wore a suit, was shaved and well groomed and very polite in an elegant, unpretentious way. In the mornings he would offer a cup of fresh Starbucks coffee with a chocolate or a cookie to go. He knew my name perfectly, so as the names of the other few hundred inhabitants of our new development. He could let out your dog (if you have one), take your dry-cleaning, let the delivery people in, arrange a town car and do everything in such a way, that he would receive the same respect for his work, as I would naturally give to the surgeon that just saved your life.
In Moscow we have a concierge too. She lives in a small 2 by 3 meters room just off the main entrance. And when I mean lives, she pretty much does. She cooks food in there, makes litters of teas, sleeps, watches Russian soap operas, receives guests, gossips and in general does everything a 65-70 years old lady would, in her own home. She is overweight, wears sloppy grandma style cloths, and more often than not, forgets to say Hello. I am sure she is a kind lady in her own world, and she probably also does a very good job as a Moscow concierge. For one, she certainly scares away potential thieves.
Few days ago as I pass by her headquarters I see that there is a renovation going on in there. Painting, tiles, doors being replaced, I am thinking this place will finally look like a real reception. Today I walk by and I see that the renovation is nearly over. The doors are replaced, the tiles are shining, new and polished, the walls are light yellow and crisp. And then I see her grunting as she is hanging back again her favorite floral door curtain: thin, discolored and representing pretty much the biggest possible curtain fashion crime - triple aesthetic murder, with style kidnapping and vogue suicide thrown in the case.
I should totally send Manny a post-card.

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