The best hotel lobbies in the world are free to walk into. Everybody is a guest. Then you can sit just like Hemingway did on his elephant and watch for whatever comes your way. A floor-crusher wearing an earbug, he moved the heavily inlaid table out of reach of the soiled shoe. Smiling all the while like an oriental wrestler alone with you in a punishment room.
Then he returned to his stygian pillar on the right hand side of the entrance, base camp. Another two brothers roamed about on the marble floor, in and out of the pillar lanes. None of them wore good shoes. The one European watched the woman walking in and walking over and sitting down. Black high-heels / sheer stockings / black fitted skirt / silk blouse / silver and small pearls / Red lipstick / oval eyes / arched brows / black hair. Perfectly sat. Legs crossed. Look away.
Her glance over is as quick as a shot and whoever she’s waiting for will be older.
Businessmen fold themselves about the place meeting and un-meeting, using hand gestures and upper body postures that they would never use anywhere else. Handshakes that are clasps or grasps, or just touch and slip away. Sometimes a crusher tries his strength. American.
Two boys in white are on the swing doors, they only open one if they judge you able to cope with the insult. A man wearing a surf T and cargo shorts, sandals and a beach-hat veers away and takes a more distant door out, this he has to open for himself.
Australian, unworthy of a service construed as servitude.
The English stand and wait for both doors to blossom open for their passage, in or out. They are the only people in this place who sneeze into the air. Some of the men wear no socks and some of their children are ungovernable and voracious.
A driver has appeared, unnoticed, in his white suit creased from two days wear. He is built solid and stands quiet, looking intently at the man who would look just as intently at him. Across the floor, they stare at each other. He has been sent for.
The Japanese has quit the front desk, and he strides his short-stepping way to the door, a door-boy each side, and so slick he palms them each a note without stopping. They slip their fold away.
The Bell captain at his desk, another note, and another for the forecourt boss as he opens the taxi’s door.
.. The driver leaves without his call, and he puts a little black tar on the forecourt on the way out.