Nanny flies coach
Last week I had to go to Brisbane for a couple of days and I stayed at the Sofitel. I don’t normally stay at the Sofitel – it’s very convenient for the office, but the Stamford Plaza down the bottom of Edward Street has a much bigger swimming pool.
The other thing that puts me off the Sofitel is the fake Franglais. All the staff have been trained to say “Bonjour, how can I help you?”. It sounds very cute, but it doesn’t have the same ring of competence that you would find in, say, Luxembourg. There, when they rattle off “hello, bonjour, guten tag, gute morgen…” and smile expectantly, you know they will cope with anything you throw at them.
The staff at the Sofitel have that slightly panicked look of people who have taken three classes of “French for the Hospitality Industry”. I have travelled a bit in French-speaking countries and was very tempted to test their competence. But I didn’t. I wasn’t feeling mean enough. And though I could string together the words for “Your swimming pool is too short and too far from my room”, I could not find the right tone of disappointment for “you have hidden the room service menu from me, your crispy duck salad isn’t crispy, isn’t salad and when I order pomme mousseline in a French hotel, I do not expect potato”.
While I was leafing through the hotel guide in my room (trying to find the opening hours for the pool and waiting for another room service menu), I came across a handwritten annotation on one of the pages:
Jun 5th to LA
Kim and Bean – business
Nanny – coach
This was fascinating…who were these people?
Probably American because they refer to coach instead of economy. Unless nanny was catching the bus…
Was Kim the wife, or the husband, or the baby? Was Bean the baby? Was the author of the note another person, or possibly Kim (or Nanny?). Why did Nanny have to fly coach? What if Bean started crying on the flight, would Nanny come up to business to collect Bean, or would Kim take Bean back to Nanny? Why not put Bean in coach and Nanny up front? What does a baby care where it’s sitting? Perhaps Nanny is Kim’s mother, or the author of the note’s mother (let’s call him Tom). Had Tom and Nanny had a falling out? Was Nanny paying for her own travel and economising? Was the flight full and nanny drew the short straw? Perhaps Nanny is a superior kind of domestic servant who would feel she was giving herself airs if she sat up front?
I finally formed a hypothesis – Tom, Kim, Bean and Nanny all live together in LA. Tom does something in cosmetic medicine (dentistry?). American Tom is in Brisbane for a conference, but he brought his Australian wife Kim and two-year-old Bean with him so they could visit Kim’s parents in retirement on the Gold Coast. Bean is a bit of a handful, so they brought the nanny along to give Kim a break. However, the practice (or possibly the drug company) will only pay for Kim’s travel (part of the conference package) and not the nanny’s. Bean flies free. Nanny had to sit down the back of the bus with all the returning tourists.
At this point the room service menu arrived – pomme mousseline or smoked salmon rollade? More important things to think about… but if you are Kim, Bean, or the nanny, please let me know the full story…