This morning there was a coach load of Chinese leaving the hotel early. Travelling parties of Chinese rarely fail to entertain, especially at 5.30! The hotel had arranged ‘take away breakfasts’ for them, stacked on a trolley in brown paper bags. There was no need for the night porter to point them at these bags after the first person. Person one stands as a beacon calling his friends to the gift, soon replaced by a friend and eventually by a sort of crowd knowledge.
The breakfast contains a carton of juice, a cereal pot and a yoghurt. When they glance inside their paper bag the sound of disappointment is clear. But the Chinese are nothing if not ingenious so they leave the women with the spoils before marching out to smoke in the car park. It’s a great image as they turn their nose up at the healthy breakfast and march out to chain smoke. Something about horses and water comes to mind. . .
But the Chinese are no more immune to the lure of hotel freebies than the rest of us. Having secured what they viewed as an unsavoury breakfast they had to keep it. So it was that the foyer was awash with men growling directions at the women whilst they repacked their belongings. Transatlantic trips with families generate a lot of luggage and we all know that you take back more than you left with. Clothes, toiletries, gifts and the obligatory electronics were stacked and restacked to allow the addition of the free breakfast. I saw bags repacked three times to no avail but when I left they were still trying.
The army often say that no man is left behind, in hotels the same is true of freebies. One interesting observation is that whilst the Chinese appear disorganised and chaotic they are actually well ordered. Whether it was due to their communist roots or some sense of morality they didn’t try and push the gift. Nobody looked in a bag and rejected it in favour of another choice and nobody took more than a bag per person. I have to wonder is it a result of such a huge population drawing on limited resources that somehow curtails the development of greed.
Note to all using Heathrow today, the fruit juice cartons exceed the stazi fluid limits for flying. Expect to be delayed while 50 Chinese repack their luggage again!