Alias

Hi, my name is Alice

Hi, my name is Alice

1986

Nobu lost his job when the company he worked for closed, another victim of the failing oil and gas industry of the 80’s.  We needed money for Christmas so I took a job as an on-call banquet waitress at a nice hotel.

There were many challenges re-entering the work force after years of staying home with the boys and I was nervous.

The first night of work I reported to the manager, trying my best to appear calm and confident.  She told me that all hotel employees had to wear and name tag and where was mine?

I always chose my words carefully when I spoke to this Icy Blond, a very competent, brittle person with a sharp tongue and no patience.

“I don’t have one”.

She pursed her lips and opened the top left drawer of her metal desk.

The Icy Blond located a cardboard box near the back and dropped it in front of me.  The metal name tags clanged and rattled.  I wanted to linger over my choices but her expression made it clear this was not the time to dawdle.

I chose “Grace”.  Maybe it would bring me good luck.

The next night I felt a bit more confident and took the name Natasha.

The cardboard box was now on a shelf near the clock, available for new hires.  I started to look forward to the excitement of being someone new for every shift.  I asked a co-worker where the name Polina was from.  Belarus.

I began to put together a biography in case one of the guests asked me a question.

“Hello.  My name is Polina.  I’m from Minsk.  I have a mother, father and four brothers. I came to this country from Belarus three years ago.”

No one ever engaged me in conversation but I was prepared.

The second week at work, I punched my timecard and made a bee line to The Box.  Tonight I wanted to be from Morocco.  Or Egypt.  The Icy Blond blocked my path.

“Where’s your name tag?”

I had assumed the hotel didn’t want to spend the money on temporary help.  I would have  explained my thought process but I knew that the Icy Blond appreciated brevity.

“I don’t have one”.

“Go down and order it from HR and have it by tomorrow.”

The next night I dutifully attached the shiny new metal tag to my lapel.

I was once again plain old Alice.  From Denver.  Married with two children.

When I left that job I added my name tag to the box.  As I left the hotel for the last time I passed a new girl with dark hair.  I imagined her saying with a lilting European accent,

“Hi, my name is Alice.”

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One comment

  1. Leave it to management to spoil the fun!

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