What a Character

Hello again from the Big
Blue!

Hold on a minute, I have to
change my “Princess is: hot and sticky” sign to “Princess is: melting”. There,
that’s better.  

(I’m not complaining)

People. I’ve been thinking
about people quite a bit lately. They’re everywhere, have you noticed? A
large number of them pass in and out of Perfect Beach Resort. Some, such as the
Italians, bring tears to our eyes as they depart. Others bring tears to our
eyes when they arrive. Thankfully, the latter are the minority.  

Remember Crazy Guy? We did a
little jig when he checked out. Then he came back. He wasn’t staying here, we
were fully booked, but he just missed us so darn much he made a point of
visiting as often as possible. Even after he left the island he wasn’t gone
completely. He called us several times from Raro about various items he was
missing:

Crazy Guy: “Hey Prez, have
you seen my computer, I think I left it there?

Prez: “No, it’s not here.”

Crazy Guy: “Are you sure?

Prez: “Um, the huts don’t
have any hiding spots. We would have seen it.

Crazy Guy: “Can you ask the
other guests if they have it?

Prez: “No. I think they would
have told us if they found a computer.

Crazy: “Oh.” (pause) “Well,
have you seen my pants? I think left them there
.”

Eventually the people of the
Cook Islands banded together, with flaming torches and pitchforks, and ran him
off the island. While I applauded their efforts, I could have told them nature
abhors a vacuum – get rid of one Crazy Guy and another steps in to fill the
void.

Enter, Mr. Wu, the Vietnamese
guy from Texas. 

I knew we were in for trouble
long before Wu arrived. Emails don’t sit in the inbox more than an hour when
I’m working. We have discovered, similar to our experience in Nelson, a key
aspect to business success on Aitutaki is, simply, answering emails and phone
calls in a reasonable amount of time. “Reasonable” meaning: in less than a
week. So, when Wu’s email requesting accommodation appeared, I jumped on it. As
I was typing my response, the phone rang…

Princess: “Good morning,
Perfect Beach Resort, Princess speaking!

Wu: “How come you no answer
my email
?!”

Princess: “Um, it just
arrived five minutes ago; I’m writing you a response right now
.”

After that, he sent me,
approximately, seventeen more emails, each more detailed and demanding than the
last. I couldn’t wait to get the report from Prez after he picked him up from
the airport. “Well, he’s not crazy, per se, but he definitely has
a…glitch
.”

During his stay, Wu walked
around in the sweltering tropic heat in jeans, running shoes, and a
long-sleeved shirt. He was obsessed with coconuts and we could hear him
battering at our trees with the coconut pole at all hours. Laundry was also an
issue with him. In ten days, I believe he wore twenty-seven pairs of brand new,
tighty-whiteys. How do I know? Because we offer a laundry service here and I
had to wash and hang all those briefs.

His glitch was made humorous
by his odd Texan-Vietnamese twang. One day, when Prez caught Wu tossing his
trash in the other hut’s garbage bins, he asked him why he wasn’t using the
buckets on his own porch – the three big, white buckets labeled “Glass &
Aluminum”, “Compost”, and “All other household garbage”.  Wu replied, “Oh, I was wondering what
those buckets for, maaan! I thought they were for latex, maaan. Back in Texas,
those buckets have paint, you know, maaan. Latex paint.”

Each morning, Wu came into
the office to find out where his bill was at, calculating to the penny how much
he’d spent. Prez finally said, “Dude, you really have to start your vacation
some time
.” Wu talked to the chickens. Wu complained of the sand in his room,
(sand he brought in but never thought to sweep out). Wu invited himself to
dinner at the neighbour’s place. Wu told us his towels were smelly. Wu asked me
to change his bedding then complained to Prez I had let all the mosquitoes in
his room. Wu demanded to be taken to the airport an hour and a half before his
flight despite Prez’s insistence that twenty minutes is more than plenty for
tiny Aitutaki.

Wu left toenail clippings all
over the floor of his room, (you can imagine my horror, maaan). 

Two days ago, I received a
phone call from a woman who, in broken English, kept babbling on about coming
to stay with us, but she didn’t have reservations, and she didn’t want to make
reservations, and she wanted to be independent, and could I please give her the
number for the taxi; then she hung up on me mid-sentence. I told Prez we were
on Crazy Alert. She showed up with the taxi driver yesterday asking if we had
any rooms. We were booked solid. “For how long are you booked?” she
asked. “How long are you going to be on Aitutaki?” asked Prez. “One
week
,” she answered. “Oh, rotten luck, we’re booked up for an entire
week!”

We’re learning. 

The writer in me wishes we
had hidden video cameras in all the huts. You know, whenever someone tells me
one of the characters I write is over the top, I feel like saying, “You need to
travel more
.” And by travel, I don’t mean a week lounging at one of
those resorts that are custom designed to make suburban people feel they are
still in the suburbs, except with nicer weather, free drinks, and a buff, young
Latino blowing his whistle every half hour to get people to play pool
volleyball.

This resort is unique. This
isn’t Thailand, with $6-a-night rooms and a hostel full of drunken university
students on every corner. You need money to get here, and you need money to
stay here. To say Perfect Beach Resort is “budget” accommodation is a bit
misleading. We’re budget compared to the average resort charging $300 and up
per night. Just up the way from us is Super Swank Resort Inc.; their cheapest
room goes for $800 per night. And guess what? Our beach is nicer than theirs!
The kind of guests we attract are adventure travelers. They are engineers, doctors,
computer programmers, professional photographers, chefs, psychologists, etc.
They don’t come here because it’s a bargain; they come here because they are
adventurous and looking for an experience. Well, the ones who aren’t busy
talking to the chickens, that is.  

So, what I get here is a
constantly changing cast of characters, from all across the globe, to file away
in my mental rolodex. What more could a writer ask for?

(Air conditioning) 

QUESTION: Who is your most
memorable character from real life?

Until next week, I hope this
finds you healthy, happy & lovin’ life!

The Princess

This entry was posted in Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What a Character

  1. Cindy says:

    ICK!  Tighty Whities!!  Toenails!!  DOUBLE ICK!! (You can\’t see me but I\’m grimacing.)
     
    Memorable characters?  Oh boy … I\’ve worked with disadvantaged youth and the elderly … I\’ve lived four years with my parents … Just too many options to choose from.
     

  2. Kristene says:

    I know you can feel my pain. The sweeping up of the toenails was almost a breaking point for me. And I didn\’t even want to know what the wadded up ball of toilet paper in the corner was for!!!!I loved your JC Penney and Sears stories. Don\’t you love it when businesses tell you how important you are right after treating you like poo?

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