Saturday, July 18, 2009

Mrs. Schott - Part II

Lying in the dark in the hotel room I waited for Nancy to finish her conversation on the phone with Mrs. Schott, the woman whose voice sounded mature and strong when I answered. As they talked I imagined her – a stately, “older” woman who sees Europe from the upper floors of five star hotel rooms.
At last Nancy hung up and told me what Mrs. Schott told her had transpired since she had delivered Nancy’s abandoned passport to the hotel concierge. (See last post.)
“After doing what I thought to be a good deed yesterday for you, what happened today was a surprise. I was heading to a charity luncheon – a charity for children. So on the way, I had my driver stop at the chocolatier to pick up candies for the children. He had to wait in the car at the curb while I walked up the alley to the shop’s door. Suddenly a thief grabbed me, tore the ring off my finger, took my purse, and threw me to the sidewalk!”
The hard fall onto the concrete had broken Mrs. Schott’s shoulder, and she had spent the day at the hospital. A cast not being possible, she had to wear her arm in a sling.
“But I would like to meet you and your sister tomorrow if you have time.”
So Nancy had arranged for us to visit her in the morning in the lobby of the InterContinental on our way out for the day.
Next morning en route the few blocks between our modest little hotel and the luxe InterContinental we remembered a florist near Place Vendome, so we headed straight there to pick up a nice (expensive) arrangement for Nancy’s injured benefactor. She picked the bouquet bottom, center.

At the InterContinental the concierge escorted us to Mrs. Schott sitting in a cool, dark corner of the lobby where it seemed every staff person was attending to her. Tuxedoed men floated to her with trays and greeted her with obvious concern about her injury.
You can’t imagine Nancy’s and my surprise when we saw her. There she was standing up to greet us, a willowy six-foot tall elegant young-ish woman reminding us of Princess Diana (who died two months later just a few blocks from that spot). We spent a short hour with Mrs. Schott and her sweet pooch Redford. We bonded, and she even said she would send her driver around for us later in the week to go out for the day. She also wanted us to come visit her in Switzerland where she and her husband oversaw their European-wide hotel chain.
You can barely see the empty left sleeve of her white sweater gracefully pinned up to accommodate her slinged arm against her chest.

Our hearts were a-flutter when we left, feeling as if we’d met and befriended royalty. If we’d known she would not follow through on her promise and collect us in a couple of days, we would have asked more questions, like which hotel chain? But as we explored Paris day after day for the remainder of our two weeks and waited for a call from Mrs. Schott, it never came, and we wistfully put our visions of a grand European friendship to rest. I have tried in vain to locate a hotel chain connected with the name Schott.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mrs. Schott - Part I

"OH NO! I don't have my passport!!"

What should have been a pleasant, relaxing moment to eat croissants and sip café crèmes in the tiny hotel dining room before a day out in sunny Paris turned into panic. My sister was frantically rifling through her bag looking for what couldn't be found. Suddenly she remembered we had stopped at the nearby Hotel InterContinental's bathroom on our way home from dinner the night before, and she had hung her little passport bag on the bathroom stall door! She lept from her chair and ran out the door "I'll be back!" leaving me and my croissant very nervous.

When she came back less than an hour later, this is what she told me.

After running the few blocks to the InterContinental, she slipped into the cool, elegant lobby and straight to the Concierge who was standing at his perch. Before she could utter a word, he said calmly with a welcoming smile, "You must be Ms. Hart, we have been expecting you."

He went on to explain that a certain Mrs. Schott had found Nancy's passport bag hanging on the bathroom stall door and delivered it to him with explicit and emphatic instructions: "Place this passport in the hotel safe, and if you do not see Ms. Hart this morning, we will contact the American Consulate to see if she has contacted them."

With relief and gratitude filling her heart, Nancy asked if he had stationery for her to write a thank you note to Mrs. Schott, a guest in the hotel. She wrote a lengthy, heartfelt message and returned to me in our tiny, shabby hotel lobby where every half minute felt like an hour to me. She held up her passport with a radiant smile.

That night, after traipsing through Paris all day up one side and down the other, our legs throbbing and our eyes drooping, we fell into bed early and slept hard. When the telephone rang suddenly at 10, with a stranger's voice telling me she was Mrs. Schott and could she please speak with Nancy, I was suddenly wide awake and handed Nancy the phone, whispering "IT'S MRS. SCHOTT!"

Next post I'll tell you what happened with Mrs. Schott. I promise it won't take me two weeks to tell the rest of the story.