Hotel breakfast-room toasters are always inadequate. I have made a study of this all over the world and it is universally true that bread inserted and exposed to their elements for any amount of time will remain resolutely untoasted. This disappoints me more that the tea which is increasingly available in hotels on mainland Europe. The improvements are, presumably as a result of customer complaints, in provision of tea, hot(-enough) water and milk which doesn't taste artificial. A almost-decent cup of tea is now a possibility which I find deeply satisfying.
I am in the Munich Airport Sheraton, where I have been for a few days whilst I conduct some meetings in Augsburg. As hotels go, it does make you feel that it takes you by the ankles and shakes the very money from your pockets. Its not that nice and its quite expensive. But then there is the 14 euro for parking every night and the 20 euro for breakfast. It feels a bit skinflinty to me.
But I am not here to write a hotel review, though I am probably rather well placed to do so, no. Breakfast made me very pensive and I feel the urge to clarify my thoughts here in writing.
Breakfast rooms in hotels always provide much food for thought, as well as the other kind. There is always a variable array of plates, jars and bowls, accompanied by elaborate devices with containers that keep sausages hot, make bacon sweaty and turn scrambled egg to a kind of durable polymer of which shoe soles could possibly be fashioned. I stand at these things still bewildered after several decades of travel, and I still never really know what to have.
At home, I might have porridge most days, done in the microwave and sufficing until my 10:30 sandwich relieves my cycling-induced hunger. But here, faced with such a cornucopia, confusion is induced. As human beings, we really are rather baffled by too much choice, regardless of how desirable a state various economic theories might believe it to be.
So, leaving aside the tedium of what I generally do choose (and its not scrambled egg because not even a hyena's robust digestion could break that down), I turn to the behaviour.
I am sitting at my table, squeezing a small silk tea bag in some tepid water, whilst my toast undergoes its slow transformation to hard, warm bread. A small bald man in business attire, about late thirties, strides in and immediately heads for the cereal. He prepares a bowl of muesli, with milk, 1% Fett and takes it to his table, then he stomps over to the toaster and without pause, pulls my two pieces of pale toast from its slots and casts them carelessly to one side, WITH HIS BARE HANDS! Now, my mother taught me to wash my hands after I go to the toilet, but I know that not everyone had such enlightened parents and I was horrified momentarily that this man has arrogantly exposed me to his germs.
He stands waiting for his "toast" with a air of aggressive possession. I momentarily consider striding over and looming over him to pointedly take my toast. I can loom rather well, I have to admit. There is quite a lot of me. But no, I think, I shall put aside such petty thoughts.
But then he barks a couple of demands at the lovely waitresses and my ire is raised, my goat got.
I decide that either he is a nice man having a bad day, which is always possible, or that he really as unpleasant as my judgmental first impression had decided.
Anyway, I decide to ignore the little shit and get on with my breakfast. I take my toast, butter it, cut it into soldiers as any self-respecting Englishman would and dip one into my quite perfect soft-boiled egg.
The waitress comes over to me to ask for a signiture and beams at me with a lovely genuine smile. She asks inheavily accented Bayrisch-flavoured Deutsch if I have all I need and I reply that I am very satisfied, thank you.
And I wonder suddenly why some people are lovely to those they encounter every day, and some are unpleasant and intolerant. I am aware of the the G B Shaw quote about all progress being made by the unreasonable man, but I am prepared to forego a little progress for politeness sake.
The waitress sweeps away gracefully and I confess I give in to an urge to appraise the cut of her uniform as she walks to the desk. But even in this, her sunny disposition is apparent and contrasting to our little Napoleon with his scowl and bad grace.
It seems to me that being polite, pleasant, "nice", is a much better way to approach the world. Ok, we all have days that bring us circumstances that we would prefer to be otherwise and sometimes this is aggravating. But when we talk respectfully to people, ask them in a civilised manner for those things we want from them and generally go through the world noticing the happy things and responding accordingly, the World seems generally well-disposed to us.
And I wonder that some don't see this connection, this cause-and-effect, and continue to be curmudgeonly and critical with every comment and every interaction. Its better for your immune system (due to the production of nasty cortisol that results from aggravation) and in general just a better way to be.
So, with this in mind, I tidy up my hotel room prior to leaving, such that the cleanig staff have a minimum of work to do to rectify the chaos of my stay.
And I bid you all a sincere and heartfelt Good Day!
Except for our little Napoleon who I hope gets painfully egg-bound as punishment for his grumpiness.