I am continually impressed and inspired by the innocence of youth. It helps old cranks like me to avoid the creep of sour thoughts when the eyes of bright young women and men focus on the purity and wonder of the world, leaving all the other stuff out of focus.
I had parked my car in the Pfister parking lot like I’ve done probably hundreds of times this year. I locked up and made my way to the elevators that would take me to the lobby and the bustle of a new day. It is a walk that I feel I can probably do with my eyes closed by now.
This is one of the reasons I’ve started to sense that I’ve entered a sort of “take things for granted mode” some days when I come to the Pfister. For me at this stage of my year-long appointment as the hotel’s in-house writer, the questions of elegance, charm, comfort, hospitality and occasion have all been answered. I can essentially always rely on those and many other good-life qualities being covered during my weekly visits.
So, without a great sense of fanfare, I entered the elevator behind a mother and her two daughters. I knew in a second that if this wasn’t their first time to the Pfister, it was a visit that could be counted on one hand. The place was still fresh for them all. Their eyes were peeled wide open to all the details that surrounded them. They seemed unwilling to miss a moment of what their day would hold at the Pfister.
The youngest girl in particular had a sense of curiosity that seemed to radiate hotly as we took our short trip from parking garage to lobby. I noticed that she was looking hard at the elevator doors, seeming to scan them for hidden clues to buried treasure or a secret message written in invisible ink by a fellow past guest.
As we made our descent, the girl turned to her mother and said, “Mom, that sign said the hotel is ‘SMOKE FREE.’ Does that mean that people are going to be smoking all around us?”
Her mother looked at her worried little face assuring her, “No, sweetie, ‘SMOKE FREE’ means people aren’t allowed to smoke. We don’t have to worry about that.”
The girl looked back at her mother with a relieved grin. “Thank goodness,” she said. “I thought ‘SMOKE FREE’ meant that if you had cigarettes or something you were free to smoke.” With her big worry of the day abated, the girl burst through the elevator doors as they opened delivering us to the ground floor.
I watched the young lass scurry into the lobby, scanning all the architecture for some hidden curiosity, the key to unlocking a place of mystery in her mind. She laughed and twirled as she took in the soaring open space between ground and sky. The view was blissfully free of smoke for this child and the rest of us, but I was reminded that the things we all take away from each Pfister visit are also free of all boundaries.
And you can surely put that bit of wisdom in your pipe and smoke it, thank you very much.
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