- Room Service
- by Robin Roberts
I was sitting in my room at The Hotel, watching the early evening news on the television when my stomach began complaining about its' lack of attention. I explored the room service menu in the desk and decided to eat in my room. I dialed room service and placed my order: steak, medium rare; baked potato with all the goodies; vegetables; coffee and a Zinfandel from a small winery in Napa Valley, California. My dinner would arrive in about thirty minutes, and oh, by the way, soup or salad. I inquired about the soup de jour and decided on a garden salad with bleu cheese, and changed to a White Zinfandel so as to not overwhelm the salad with the wine.
Twenty-nine and a half minutes later, there was a soft knock. I opened the door to find an attractive female dressed in a very abbreviated waitress outfit. She wore name tag announcing to the world that her name was "Stephanie."
Perched on a pair of high-heels, she was pushing a cart about 30 inches high and 24 by 36 inches in size. It had a white cloth over it and a series of silver and chrome "cymbals," each apparently covering a different dish. She wheeled the cart into the middle of my room and, reaching under the cloth and pulled its sides up to make a dinner table of near-grand proportions. With a flurry of motion, she positioned the dinner and bread plates, silver, napkin and goblets in their appointed places. She then began to remove food from individual serving plates and arranged the food in a way to embarrass any five-star restaurant, complete with the appropriate garnishments.
She placed her index finger to her lips indicating silence, reached into her pocket and produced a 3X5 laminated index card and handed it to me. It read,
- "Dear Guest;
- My name is Stephanie. I have been ordered to remain silent until further notice.
- Questions concerning my behavior should be referred to Alicia in Room Service (ext #77) or anyone at the Front Desk.
- If you feel I have not served you well, you may punish me, but please let Alicia know so that she may punish me as well."
She moved the chair from the desk to the table, and with a smooth movement of her right hand, indicated that I should be seated in the armchair as she held it for me. I tried to be cavalier about being seated first as I have never had a female hold a chair for me. She took the napkin, placed it on my lap, and decanted the wine. I was beginning to wonder if this lady was going to feed me as well. She stood up straight, walked to the door and stood with her back against the wall, at "parade rest." Her feet were 18-20 inches apart, her back and neck straight and her hands folded in the small of her back. I didn't know if I was supposed to eat, watch or salute.
I chose to eat.
I was watching Stephanie with some curiosity. She had entered my room, set the table, served my dinner and withdrew without saying a single word. She stood quietly waiting for, what?
As my glass emptied to the three-quarter mark, I found out. Stephanie marched forward, refilled my glass to the full mark and retreated to her station by the door. We continued this dance throughout my dinner: I would drink wine, she would refill my glass.
When I felt I had finished dinner, I placed the napkin on the plate. As if by some message from the cosmos, Stephanie approached the table, took my hand as a signal to stand. She took the chair back to the desk and indicated that I should sit in the lounge chair in front of the television. With the precision of a machinist, she folded the table back into its' cart lifeform and placed all dishes on the shelves beneath and inside the pushcart.
As she made a motion to leave the room, her cart before her, I called her name. She approached my chair and half-kneeled before me. I asked her if there was anything I needed to pay or sign. With a side-to-side motion of her head, she indicated in the negative. I asked a question concerning the time Room Service opened in the morning.
She pointed to the telephone and made a sign of dialing it.
I motioned that she was excused. What more could be said?