It was a cold Tuesday night in February.
The temperature outside was well below zero. A little snow fell from the sky. The clock on the screen in front of me said it was exactly five hours and thirty-nine minutes until breakfast.
A guy came into the hotel. His movements were a little robot like as he walked towards the reception desk.
The guy wished me something that sounded like a good evening. He removed his black and white hat that looked like it had been knitted by someone’s grandma. Then he took off the scarf around his mouth.
A friendly face appeared. Around his eyes were tiny particles of melting ice.
The young man introduced himself. His name was Ralf. I asked if his name was spelled with an f or with ph at the end. He answered that his name was spelled with an f. A subtle smile confirmed he appreciated my thoroughness.
We shook hands and I revealed my name. Then I asked what brought him to Volkshotel in the middle of this particular Tuesday night in February.
Ralf wasted no time getting to the point.
He was cycling home from work.
All of a sudden he felt this tremendous urge to poo.
He was in need of a toilet.
Ralf got his wallet out. He took out a fifty euro bill en held it right under my nose.
This was a desperate man.
If I were in his situation, I’d sure like to use someone’s bathroom. Letting him use ours was really a no brainer.
No need to pay, Ralf. Not even an absurd amount of money.
When nature calls, voicemail is the devil.
Ralf thanked me. He put his wallet back in his coat pocket, turned around and went down the stairs to the basement toilet area as quickly as he possibly could.
When Ralf came back up ten minutes later or so, he seemed lighter. His movements were more natural than before, but of course I didn’t mention this to him.
Men don’t discuss stuff like that.
We chatted a bit. He told me his wife’s name was Marleen and that he was a regular visitor of our club nights. Ralf showed me how he kept his hands warm when it was really, really cold.
‘Are you sure I don’t need to pay you?’
‘I’m sure’, I answered.
He thanked me again. Then he left.
Haven’t seen him since.