Walking. And quivering with guilt.


I print “Thank you!” on the hotel note pad and lean into the pen on the exclamation mark. Maybe I should add another.

I decide against it.

I count out the bills. And, Pause. Then I add a few more. They rest in my hand, feather-like and heavy – shackled to a ship’s anchor and dragging me down to Earth. These same bills passing through thousands of hands before me.  Maybe I should add another.

I add another.

I stack the bills neatly on the Note below the Thank You!  I place the pen on top of the stack. I pause to take measure, I’m unsettled.

I step away, taking one last look around the room for anything left behind.

I grab my 2-wheel carry on and step out the door, removing the ‘Do Not Disturb‘ sign and affixing it to the inside of the door.

I walk. The long, narrow, dimly lit corridor adds to the weight of my shoulder bag.

And there it is. Standing in the hallway. A four wheel cart. Laden with bottled water, towels, soaps and toiletries.

She, it’s always a She.  This same scene replayed hundreds of times. It’s always a She.

She wears the company uniform, often white, sometimes powder blue, often too tight. Her wide mouth forces a grin offering bad teeth and a heavily accented “Good Morning.”  She tries to stand straight but can’t find her way up, sclerotic bones have given up.

It’s a moment. The eyes, they connect. And Eyes, they never lie. It’s Soul to Soul.

I step around the cart and continue down the hall, pulling my suitcase and the full weight of her with me.

She whispers:

Sir, Please.
Just one moment.
Give me One Day. Just one day. Please.
Trade places with me.


  • Post and post title inspired by Jack Kerouac, from Windblown World: The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 (Viking Adult, 2004): “I wonder why our life must quiver between beauty and guilt, consummation and sadness, desire and regret, immortality and tattered moments unknowable, truth and beautiful meaningful lies.”
  • Photo: Kari Patterson
  • Quote: metaphorformetaphor
  • Related Posts: Commuting Series.


  1. As I drove through The Crow Nation yesterday, White Man’s Guilt dragged at me in the same way. The only thing to do (for me) is be fully present in the eye contact.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. powerful. i often think about these things when i travel too. i understand that circumstances and fate have served to place us each where we are in life, and it feels that many of us have had an unfair advantage. i try to even the scales with my small thank you’s, of money, words and compassion for people as fellow human beings, but it feels like it is never enough. it humbles me each and every time.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Very thoughtful. But she is most likely thinking…did he leave a mess ? did he leave a tip ? can I get his room done in the mandatory 20 minutes ? how long until break/lunch ? ☺

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Guilty as charged, yet kindness and appreciation are powerful ways to support people at all levels. Thanks for the blog, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Poignant, and yes, guilt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Now download that intelligence (soul intelligence) into a machine.
    Your guilt is beautiful.
    She, is beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. One of my first jobs, when I was 13 years old, was cleaning hotel rooms. It is a backbreaking, unappreciated job. Having walked in their shoes, I appreciate the work they do to keep us comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You truly are a beautiful person, David… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The sou to soul connection and gesture of appreciation with a generous tip always goes a long way. A long way into her heart and flowing in dinner conversation with her family. A very long way. Thank you, Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s hard to look into the eyes of suffering. This gave me goosebumps…

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I liked your narration.
    And the ending was particularly good.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Usually a Fiver. Nice.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Perhaps sometimes “she” can see into your heart through your eyes and know it beats with compassion and understanding. That “seeing” can help lift flagging spirits by meeting universal needs to be seen, appreciated, and understood. Thank you for the excellent reminder, David.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Moved, pal. Full. Stop.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great reminder and writing Mr K, but I think it’s not about feeling guilty for what we have and they don’t, but more importantly to be present and aware that we are equals and to remember our lives may swap at anytime. We can be abundant one day and bankrupt the next; we could be healthy and happy one day and sick and dying the next. I am grateful for everything I have in this moment, because it can be taken from me at any moment. That is different to feeling guilty.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. She is always a she! I leave notes and bills too. ❤
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Christie says:

    You are a good person, Dave…I try to live what Karen, wrote. Years ago, one of my sisters said “you treat service people so well”…I thought to myself we are to esteem others above ourselves…I’ve had a difficult day and then I saw a young man, of a different race, sitting in a wheelchair smoking a cigarette at the further entrance,(about 30′) he was waiting for his ride….I thought to myself, so young, I am so sorry…why am I so fortunate to have a second chance? I am ever so Grateful….”Soul to Soul” your words and the same words in a beautiful song,,,the song progress to “we need, love more love” …”Rise above for love”…Dave, you did Rise Above.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Very thoughtful of you. How many thinks in this way? Moving post.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Your writing touched me, David. In many parts of the developing world “she” is often a “he”, The jobs that come with thank you notes are coveted. Everything in this world comes back to gratitude and sharing from what we have. Be it knowledge or money.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Late to the game here… but after steeping in your thoughts, and nodding yes to many of the comments, one other thing comes to mind that further widens the chasm between those walking the hall and those staying to scrub, is that those staying to scrub mostly seem to be smiling. I’m always fascinated that for some, contentment comes without climbing and scratching to material wealth. For some, unwrapping a sandwich, while tired and bent, is as much a reason to smile, as spending Saturday at the park over a BBQ. I don’t often see a look of longing (but I haven’t traveled extensively, as you have). I most often see willingness. It’s like there is a subculture made of what the “quite comfortable” see when they travel to third world countries. You don’t need Nike, you might not even need shoes. You need love and contentment. The “quite comfortable” travel and find that there is something they long for.
    But, then again, coming full circle- Clarence: “No, we don’t use money in Heaven.”
    George Bailey: “Well, it comes in real handy down here, bud!”
    Leave it to me to respond days later with an essay (cringe emoji).
    Thanks for sharing and for being one who leaves another reason to smile on the nightstand.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Like

  22. You capture the emotion perfectly. I find myself trading places with people in my mind all the time. I’d love to know all the stories and understand each individual. Truly “seeing” people is a gift, one that many don’t put to use. Thank you for seeing and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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