Is this your voice? : a memory of a welcome package

When I was about nine, I became very interested in hospitality, and often welcomed our family guests with some special gestures. This often meant a welcome board at the entrance, a handwritten card on the table, some uplifting decorations in the room and a tailored choice of background music. Being practical people, my parents thought I was indulging in a useless activity, but they didn’t discourage me either. So, whenever I heard that a guest was coming, I would eagerly prepare a tailored welcome package for them.

Once, my maternal grandmother came to visit us for a long stay, and she was going to sleep in my room. I was excited to hear the news and decided to make my room like a real hotel room. I wanted to imagine that our house was a luxury hotel.

I arranged the bed neatly, folded crisp towels of three different sizes, cleaned the table, and on the table, I placed a welcome letter – this was what I had observed from my own stay at a good hotel. When everything was ready, I decided to record my welcome message to provide my grandmother with an extra luxurious experience.

I took out my cassette player and recorded a voice message, welcoming the guest and explaining how to fully enjoy her stay in the room. After this recording, I felt everything was perfectly ready.

A few hours later, my grandmother arrived, and as soon as she walked into my room, she was surprised by the way things were neatly arranged.

“How wonderful!” She exclaimed. “Thank you for preparing the room for me, I really appreciate it!”

Such a compliment always made me feel proud, and I couldn’t wait for her to experience the best part of it all – the welcome message!

“Grandma, come sit here,” I said to her eagerly. “You haven’t seen the best part yet. There is a special message from the owner of this hotel!”

“A special message?”

In front of my grandmother’s puzzled face, I hit the play button of my cassette player. The recording of my own voice came out of the speaker, welcoming the guest and explaining how she could get the most out of her time in the room.

I watched my grandmother breathlessly, excited to see what she thought of this welcome message, but she was speechless for a while. When she opened her mouth, there was surprise in her voice.

“Is this your voice, Sweetheart?” she asked me.

Yes, of course, it was mine. When I said that, she started to laugh.

“Goodness grief! This is your voice! But it doesn’t sound like you – I thought it was some other lady speaking!”

I wasn’t sure if I should be happy about this comment or not. In front of my perplexed face, my grandmother kept laughing.

“Oh, boy, this is your voice! This is your voice!”

I was a little disappointed that all her attention went to the voice and she didn’t seem to care much about the content of the message. But looking at the way she was impressed by the voice of the recording, which was indeed mine, I decided to receive it as a compliment and joined her laughter.