Can't sleep. Too much worry on my mind.
I met a woman last week at the hotel. She was beautiful and she had my curiosity immediately. She wasn't obviously one thing or another and I had a sense that she was someone I'd really benefit from talking to.
This guest was tall, thin and had the most charismatic and angular face. It seems that all of the female travelers are pharmaceutical reps nowadays; her face wasn't like theirs. It was free of makeup and I was struck by a deep need to know her story. A recent episode of television's Hotel Babylon focused on the many masks that we wear, guests and staff. And here was a face which conveyed no fear of honesty. Rich, beautiful lines on the interesting face before me revealed to me measures of truth and confidence.
"I'm here for the gold show," she replied when I asked what brought her to my fair city. A jewelry collector, I guessed to myself.
"That's interesting," I politely offered. "How are you affiliated with the show?"
She then satisfied my expectations by telling me that she was a gold prospector. How about that for not a run of the mill answer? I wear a nice uniform with a name tag and I carry people's luggage from their cars to their hotel rooms for a living. Some people conduct board meetings, crunch numbers and create spreadsheets. All of these jobs are important and worthwhile, but they just don't jump out at you like "gold prospector," do they? Maybe in the late-1840s everyone and their mother was doing it, but my high school guidance counselor didn't tell me that prospecting gold was even an option when I graduated in 1989.
Anyway, this guest was here with the Gold Prospectors Association of America. I didn't have time to talk with her as long as I would have liked, but I did get the chance to play interviewer for a minute or so. She told me that she took many expeditions to Alaska and that she absolutely loved everything about what she did. I asked her about modern technology and its factor in her work and she answered that it's pretty much as it's always been -- lots of sifting for gold, simply so. Territories are also mapped out carefully so as not to violate another prospector's space.
Finally, I asked her if it was dangerous at all. She told me that it's really not too bad, but then added with a smile that one does have to be prepared for the occasional bear checking out the scene. Before I could bend her ear any longer, I was called on my radio to help another guest downstairs. Wishing her well and thanking her for staying with us, I went on my way. The best and most obvious question went unasked: How did she get into gold prospecting in the first place? And it only occurs to me now that this might be less career and more expensive, but potentially lucrative, hobby.
Maybe one day I'll find myself up in Alaska, sifting for gold, enjoying the most beautiful night skies I've ever seen, and eating the tastiest, freshest salmon I can imagine. One never knows what the future will bring. Now if I could just stop worrying about money and get some sleep.