I’d arrived a few days earlier as I was working in Moscow and had asked to be placed in a hotel near to Red Square so I could go ‘sightseeing’ when not in meetings.
Like many places I seem to travel to it was cold – January in Moscow generally is. Cold enough to freeze my beer into a beer slushy when I left it on the outside deck of the O2 Bar for ten minutes whilst I wandered around the roof taking photos of Red Square and the Kremlin.
I had a thick coat and scarf but didn’t have a hat and on the first morning one of the Doormen came up to me and suggested for the good of my health I should go inside rather than stand outside the entrance awaiting my lift. He could see my ears were close to becoming frostbitten and I’d only been out a few minutes. He then took it upon himself to wait outside so he could summon me when it arrived (he was correctly attired for the weather and had a large fur hat on that completely covered his ears). I was running late so only had time to briefly thank him before jumping in the car.
He was there on my return and we struck up a conversation – I always take time to chat to hotel staff and never treat them any differently to anyone else I’d meet socially or otherwise. I asked his name and told him mine – he initially kept calling me Sir but I finally managed to persuade Andrei to call me Bob (He seemed to have a problem with Robert and Rob mainly I think because of the R’s)…actually he also had a problem with Bob hence the post title.
Over the next couple of days we met each morning and each evening on my return – I always took the time to talk to him and established during our conversations he was a student originally from St Petersburg working to pay his way through University and amongst other things that he was also a Russian Fencing Champion – amazing how much you learn about others if you take the time to be interested in them.
So came my final day – I was due to leave the hotel for the airport and as it was a Saturday and I hadn’t been working I was just dressed very casually – probably too casually for the Ritz-Carlton but no-one said anything. I wandered outside to check whether my taxi had arrived and true to form was immediately shepherded back inside by Andrei. He explained he would come and get me when it arrived.
There was a wedding party going on in the hotel that day – obviously a very exclusive and expensive one judging from the decorations and flowers and the steady stream of Russian Oligarchs wandering around and their wives/girlfriends literally dripping with gold jewellery and diamonds.
It was just in the middle of the photoshoot that this very loud Russian voice boomed out across the foyer “Your car is here Buurb”.
The whole wedding party turned around to see this ‘scruffy’ Englishman get up from one of the sofas, have his laptop case and holdall picked up by the Doorman and be escorted outside.
I have no idea who they thought I was, but I was the only one I saw on my trip who had their luggage carried by a Doorman not by a porter, who had the Doorman call me by my first name (not simply address me politely as Sir) and the only one, despite his attire, to the Russians who must have obviously been very important indeed – possibly a true wealthy eccentric English aristocrat.
Amazing how easy it appears that you can seemingly fool people into thinking you are much more important than what you really are.
Amazing how people just doing their job appear to want to do it better if they are treated right.
And this all because ‘Buurb’ took the time to say hello.