A True Hotel Holiday Tale…
She couldn’t have been more than five years old. I’d just rounded a building, and climbed out of the golf cart. The little girl ran toward me.
“My dolly. Mein puppe. My dolly.” Tears gushed out of her deep blue-green eyes. Wide with fear. “My dolly,” she sobbed, as she grabbed onto a woman’s hand.
“May I help you, Mam?” I asked.
“My doteur lose her doll.”
It was Christmas Eve at the hotel. Guests and visitors swarmed the property. The Seralago was at full capacity. Actually at overflow.
I knelt down to the child’s level. “What is your dolly’s name?”“
“Katweena,” she cried. “Dolly Katweena.”
“Katrina? That’s a pretty name.” The child reminded me of my sister. What she probably looked like at that age. Beautiful, natural wavy hair that encircled her round face. Like an angel’s golden halo.
“Can you tell me what your dolly looks like?”
“Blonde hair?” I looked to the mother, who struggled with her English.
“Katrina large. (The woman moved her arms about 20-22 inches in height.) “Baby doll. Pink dress. White pinafore. Shoes, like Marta’s. (She looked down at her daughter’s white tie shoes.
The little girl had inched closer to me. “You find Katweena?” she asked, almost in a whisper.
How could I refuse? It may have been close to clocking out. But, no way could I leave that property before finding that child’s doll.
“Madam, do you know where your daughter might have left her doll?
“We – family – by pool. Close gazebo. Husband and sons swim. I read in chair. Marta stand by small pool, for little ones.” The woman’s voice sort of dropped away. Her eyes full of concern.
“I’ll start by the pool then. Where will you be, Madam? What room?” I stopped. Family of five, I thought. “Does your family have a suite here?”
“Yes. Suite. Children’s fun room. Building 100-200.” She hesitated, “Please find. Must fly home day after Christmas. Germany.”“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.”
“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.” The lady smiled, then bent down and hugged her little girl.
Standing, I reached for my mobile, and called Security.
“Please put out the word. We’re looking for a lost doll. Long, blonde hair. Pink dress, white pinafore, and white tie shoes. Doll is 18-22 inches tall.” I told security where I was, and the guest’s suite number.
I felt a tug on one of my pants legs. My “whites” were splattered with pastel yellow and mint green paint. (We’d had an incident in another suite. It needed a quick repaint, the entire suite.)
“Please find her.” The little girl’s eyes bore into mine.
“I will. I promise.”
After clearing where I could find the family within the next hour, I re-parked my golf cart. And I took off.
First, I scoured the entire pool area, including the gazebo. Also the children’s playground. Just in case. I checked every spot within that general radius, certain that the child had not wandered far from her family’s location by the pool.
For over a half-hour, I looked. Nothing. And, no one else – in security – had found the doll either.
I decided to find the family. To reassure the mother – the little girl – that I was still looking. And that other staff members were looking, too.
The family was back at the pool area. The little girl spotted me and met me part way. “You not find my Katweena,” she said. Lowering her eyes to the ground.
“Not yet.” I bent down. “But I’m still looking.” I forced a smile. “She has to be here somewhere. Right?”
“Wight!” The child agreed. A slight smile appeared on her tear-moist face.
About fifteen minutes later, I looked toward a sort of out-of-the-way corner near the gazebo. I’ll never know why. Something just pulled me there.
I darted toward an area opposite the pool. Past the gazebo. Around the corner. Toward this nearby pool supply building.
There she was! Doubled over on the concrete walk. I couldn’t wait to grab hold of that dolly. Wipe her off. Straighten up her dress and pinafore. And, smooth down her curls.
I will always remember the look on that little girl’s face. The moment she spotted her dolly in my arms.
It was the same kind of “love-look” that I remembered seeing, many times, on my sister’s face when we were kids. Especially when she was playing with her Madame Alexander Baby Doll. “Cookie.”
“COOKIE” – circa 1972
I worked the next day. Christmas Day. And, I had the chance to see little Marta and her family before they caught the shuttle to Orlando International Airport.
Working on Christmas – that Christmas – offered such a remarkable reward. The gift of being surrounded by people – hundreds of families – on the most important day of the year.
Bless you and yours this holiday season.
Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”
Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.