Monday, September 3, 2012

The Senator

With a population of less than 300,000, Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan (for the uninitiated, Saskatchewan is a prairie province in Canada). It was there, my flight having arrived around one o'clock in the morning, that I came upon The Senator. The 105-year-old hotel had obviously tried to maintain a dignified posture of importance as it stood on the downtown corner of 21st Street and 3rd Avenue. But even at that early morning hour the self-proclaimed "boutique hotel" looked a bit tired and tattered in yesterday's attire. For instance, there were the seriously worn marble treads on the wrought-iron main staircase trimmed with oak railings that had long since lost their varnished luster. But what gave away the truth that the aging Senator had "let himself go" so to speak, was what happened when I tried to enter my room, #223. The key fit fine and easily turned in the lock, but I couldn't budge the door.  As I rattled the door handle and shoved on the door in earnest, I imagined one or more persons who had been sleeping soundly in #223 bursting into the hall half-dressed and shouting expletives. 
Thinking better of continuing my efforts, I retreated to the front desk where I interrupted the night clerk and his computer games. I explained the dilemma and he glibly assured me that no one was in room #223.  He  then accompanied me back up the once-regal staircase to the second floor. His first efforts to enter the room were unsuccessful. I felt vindicated.  But then, without further hesitation or warning, he put his burly shoulder into the door with the force of a trained fireman and it gave way with a crash. Thankfully, #223 was indeed unoccupied. The night clerk simply mused as he hurried down the hall, "I wondered if that was one of the sticky door rooms". "Sticky"?  After using my shoulder in like fashion to the night clerk I was able to close my door from the inside. I felt I had been given a working definition of the word "doorjamb". Upon managing to get the door closed, two conflicting concerns crossed my mind. First, as it appeared that the inside lock was not functioning, it would only take someone with a healthy shoulder to enter my room, although not before creating enough noise to wake even me (sans hearing aids). However, it was my second thought that gave me greater pause. If, in the middle of the night, the heritage hotel decided to self-immolate, attempting to reduce its guests to cremated remains, I would never get the heat-swollen door open in time to escape. But, being bone-tired, the door remained unlocked but jammed tightly closed while I slept. 
It won't surprise you to know that I did wake up in the morning, unscathed by fire or felon. After some persistent, two-handed, full body, one foot on the doorframe, heaving on the doorknob I did escape from room #223.

Somehow, there seemed to be message for me in saga of the stuck door to room #223. I believe it is this: don't pretend to be something you're not. The Senator was really faking it in many respects. Its glory days were gone, unlikely to be recovered. No one was really fooled. Sometimes I'm prone to misrepresent the state of my Parkinson's, to disguise the symptoms that would be apparent to a discriminating eye. I find myself trying to portray an outdated image of who I was in better times. Faking it! I need to learn a lesson in humility from The Senator. Just be who I am, a small-town boy who has been blessed beyond any of my dreams; a 60-year-old guy with Parkinson's who simply wants to encourage others as I have been encouraged.

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