In my rush, I booked the room without reading the fine print. It was not a cheap hotel. And in the photos it looked normal. Even nice. It was about spending one night, for a work trip. Hours before arriving, some kind WhatsApp messages came in, giving me the link to a secure payment gateway, to check-in in advance (I saw my payment parading safely and elegantly). What seemed like an attentive hotel employee (now I doubt everything) also sent me a couple of restaurant recommendations. And some codes. That’s when I started to get suspicious.

In fact, when I arrived at the hotel late at night, I found that there was nothing resembling a reception, much less a receptionist. I received myself, typing little numbers that diligently opened doors. The room was waiting for me silently, decorated with little flowery cardboard that welcomed me with excessive insistence on the walls, the pillows or the soap. There was a decorative effort to hide the emptiness. Even on the toilet paper roll, a little sign welcomed people to wipe their asses, in that attempt to humanize a soulless space. The absence of reception fluttered around the room like a chicken without feathers.

In bed, the blurry faces of receptionists from countless hotels came to mind. I remembered scenes and fragments of conversations with friendly or dull receptionists, but almost always willing to bring a blanket at dawn and even help with a friend who was too drunk in the dangers of youth. Between dreams, the idea made its way that my company, which never stops modernizing, would end up sending me on a trip without me, to this hotel without a receptionist. I felt sorry for this room, completely dry, chewing bricks of loneliness.

The sheets stuck to me and I woke up mid-morning. I was distressed not to be able to call the reception and ask a receptionist for permission to delay my departure time a few minutes, like so many times. I showered quickly, fearing that at eleven o’clock the room would be programmed to volatilize, or fold with me inside. I imagined an explosion brushing my teeth. When I heard a knock on the door, and saw a small woman appear, with a cleaning cart, hair, nose and eyes, I almost cried.