I fantasise about a world in which hospitality is an accurate descriptor for the industry it is used to describe. In this world, hospitality can be experienced in many forms. It can be seen in the smiles of waiters when they approach your table to take your food order. It can be heard from the mouths of tillers as they thank you for waiting in-line on a Saturday. It can be smelled in uncorked wine bottles, tasted from plates still hot from the kitchen, felt in the hearts of satisfied customers, and in the hearts of those satisfying them.
In my fantasy, it is more important to host a person, to offer them a roof under which they might eat, drink and know peace, than to push them for profit. Men and women wander from the street into this make-believe place and are greeted at the door, or else left to their own devices, to browse menus or display fridges at their leisure. In my fantasy, hospitality is a virtue, not an industry umbrella. In my fantasy, hospitality is a two-way street.
I fantasise about a world in which hospitable men and women are met as such. In this world, those offering hospitality are appreciated for their efforts. When a waiter smiles at the family under his care, they smile back at him. When a tiller thanks her customer for his patience, he accepts her gratitude. When good food is eaten and better wine imbibed, customers with full bellies and happy faces take a moment to feel grateful for the meal that they have just sat down and enjoyed.
In my fantasy, everyone is human. Sometimes food is not piping hot. Wine bottles spill. Wine glasses break. Sometimes there are not enough waiters to attend every table immediately, and sometimes the tiller’s till malfunctions. In my fantasy, the thirsty man and the hungry woman and the family of four out for the day remember that those offering them hospitality are people, just like themselves; not malicious or rude or antagonistic but hospitable, by definition friendly, welcoming, disposed to treat their guests warmly and with care.
As you shout into my face, as you jab my chest with your forefinger, as your spittle spots my cheeks, I stand quite still and I fantasise about a world in which hospitality is an accurate descriptor for the industry it is used to describe.