Monday, February 27, 2012

When I Was Younger, When I First Made These Rules for Myself, I Would Always Carry Up to Three Suitcases, However Large or Heavy

Gustav the porter, first chapter, Ishiguro's The Unconsoled:

"I should be honest with you, sir. It's only fair. When I was younger, when I first made these rules for myself, I would always carry up to three suitcases, however large or heavy. If a guest had a fourth, I'd put that one on the floor. But three, I could always manage. Well, the truth is, sir, four years ago I had a period of ill-health, and I was finding things difficult, and so we discussed it at the Hungarian Cafe. Well, in the end, my colleagues all agreed there was no good reason for me to be so strict on myself. After all, they said to me, all that's required is to impress on the guests something of the true nature of our work. Two bags or three, the effect would be much the same. I should reduce my minimum to two suitcases and no harm would be done. I accepted what they said, sir, but I know it's not quite the truth. I can see it doesn't have nearly the same effect when people look at me. The difference between seeing a porter laden with two bags and seeing one laden with three, your must admit, sir, even to the least practiced eye, the effect is considerably different. I know that, sir, and I don't mind telling you it's painful for me to accept. But just to return to my point, I hope you see now why I don't wish to put down your bags. You only have two. At least for a few more years, two will be within my powers."