It was thoughtless of me. I had given my arrival time of 4pm no thought in the last three weeks since reserving my room. The day of my 'mini Melbourne vacation' had finally arrived to find that 4pm was, in fact, my departure time so I didn't get to the Hotel until 6pm. This goes someway to justify her terseness upon my arrival.
Thoughtless - given no thought.
Yes, I said, I did realise that it was a "small operation" and "sorry" I said that she had "planned to go out" and my late arrival had "ruined all that" and that really, she had had a bad day with her "cleaner calling in sick" and was "expected to be sick all week" really this (me at 6pm) was the "very last thing she needed".
"I really am very sorry," I said "it was very thoughtless of me. I should have caught an earlier train. I'm sorry I inconvenienced you."
"Where did you come from?" she asked.
"Castlemaine." I replied.
"Oh, we shall have a lot to talk about. I visit Castlemaine often. I bet we know some of the same people."
"I actually live closer to Newstead than Castlemaine." I said, just so she knew that we probably didn't know any of the same people because really, I don't know anyone.
"Newstead?" she said "Well, that's hardly Castlemaine." Her tone was reproachful and accusatory as if I really didn't know what I was talking about.
She showed me the breakfast room. She showed me the shared bathroom. She showed me my room.
Her tone remained impatient and irritated. I tried to keep mine pleasant and light but feared I wasn't getting very far with this woman. While I did not recall any mention of accurate check-in times on her website, I did remember a note to let her know if one was going to be home late so she could provide a pass-code for the door.
"I'm going out to dinner tonight," I said "it's my friend's birthday - that's why I've come down to Melbourne, we're going out to dinner to celebrate - I may well be late getting back."
"Well I won't be waiting up for you!" she snapped, "You've already proved yourself unreliable enough when it comes to time-keeping. There is a key in your room - you can let yourself in."
"Goodness," I joked, "I've already got myself quite the reputation, and I've only been here five minutes." but she wasn't having a bar of it. She left me to my room and I closed the door feeling most unwelcome.
After I changed and readied myself for dinner, I locked my room and made my way down the long, narrow hallway towards the front door, keys in hand. She was half way up the stairs and she turned to look down on me - figuratively as well as literally. She looked tired; face and bone.
"I am sorry," I said again, "for being late and for disrupting your plans. I hope you have a nice evening after your difficult day."
She nodded and said "Good night." as she turned and walked up the stairs and out of sight.