I had a good time in friendly Adelaide at the Festival Writers’ Week, but my hotel — though I had a pleasant stay there — puzzled me. You wouldn’t think in this day and age, when the average person in a lift (elevator) has Japanese or Chinese as her main language, that hotel lifts would make life difficult for them by refusing to tell them what floor they had arrived at until they learned to speak English, now would you?
Well, the Intercontinental in Adelaide is not as cosmopolitan as they might imagine they are. When I arrive at my floor, the 14th, the lift tells me that I have arrived at floor number “FOURTEEN”. Imagine a lift in Athens that said you were at floor “DEKATESSERA” — excuse me? Is that ten ceramic tiles? — or one in Helsinki that said “NELJÄTOISTA” — WTF?? No Greek? No Finnish? Bad luck: count the floors, and concentrate.
But then perhaps they don’t have any foreigners in Adelaide. Or if they do, they make them learn English before they are allowed into the lifts in the charming but somewhat less than Intercontinental Hotel.