Pastor Milton Collins
“You’re looking mighty nice today. Have they been working you too hard?”
I remained silent but smiled and shook my head.
“Oh, I haven’t introduced myself. I’m Pastor Collins. Milton Collins. I’m one of the conference attendees,” he said. “I don’t mean any harm. I’m just trying to be friendly. How are you today?”
“I’m doing fine,” I said.
“Have you been working here a long time?” he asked.
I nodded and mumbled a barely audible ‘yes.’
“You have such a quiet voice. I love being around soft-spoken people; they’re normally smarter than the rest. They know when to talk and when not to talk and they know what to say and what not to say,” Pastor Collins said. “From my experience, they cause less problems in the church. Are you from America?”
“Ah-ha! Just that one word tells me you’re from one of the islands. Am I correct?”
I tried not to smile. I did not want to talk much as our employee handbook says to keep interactions and conversations with our guests at a minimum and on a professional level. At the same time I didn’t want to come off as rude.
He leaned towards me. “No answer with a slight smile means, great guess, but incorrect answer,” he said.
I could feel his warm breath on my neck and hear his breathing more distinctly. I shuddered. I figured if I answered his questions which seemed innocent enough he would at least stand back and hopefully leave me alone.
“Your complexion is so smooth. Let me see if I can get it right this time. I’m normally pretty good at guessing games. Let’s see: you’re a native of one of the African countries. Which one?”
“Ghana,” I answered before I caught myself.
“I knew it! I knew you weren’t from here. You have a different spirit about you—a more regal spirit. You have not looked at me once; I bet you have bright white eyes. How long have you been living here in America?”
“About four years,” I answered in my most monotone voice.
“By the way, you have a lovely accent. So how do you like America?”
“I like it.”
The elevator stopped at the fifth floor. I stepped aside so he could exit. It dawned on me then that he had not pressed any of the buttons indicating which floor was his stop when he first entered the elevator. When the doors opened a young couple waiting asked, “Going down?”
“No, we’re going up,” Pastor Collins said, reaching over my shoulders to press the ‘close door’ button. His arm slightly brushed my shoulder. I started to get nervous.
“I love how you styled your hair. That is what made me guess you were from Africa. Is that one of your native hairstyles? What do they call it? Corn rows? French Braids? It’s so neat. I wish my wife would wear her hair like that. Why don’t you come to my room and see if you can talk her into letting you show her how to fix her hair like yours, and while there, you can probably teach her a thing or two about having a pleasant disposition,” he said chuckling.
When the elevator reached the 6th floor, I prepared to exit, but he reached over and held the ‘close door’ button down.
“This is where I get off,” I said stepping closer to the elevator doors.
“I missed my stop. I’m sure you wouldn’t mind riding with me back down to my floor. I would love to converse with you some more about your native country,” he said.
“Please open the door. I have a guest waiting for these towels,” I said.
He took a step closer toward me. I took a step off to the side hoping he would remove his hands off the button. But he didn’t.
“Come on. Talk with me a bit longer. You’re the kind of woman a man wants to be around. You’re pleasant. You say just enough to still keep the mystery about yourself. You’re dressed neatly even though you’re doing house cleaning, or should I say hotel cleaning.”
Pastor Collins took another step closer toward me. I backed away as far as I could, but how far can one back away in an elevator?
“You’re very interesting to talk to. Far more interesting than my wife,” Pastor Collins said.
“Where’s your wife right now?” I blurted out hoping to put a stop to his advances.
“Oh, don’t worry about her. She’s in the room getting ready. I can call and tell her to come on down and you and I can talk some more in the room. I love talking with foreigners. I know you’re on the job, but I won’t tell. I’ll have you back on the clock in a short time,” he said placing his free hand on one of my shoulders.
I slapped his hand away. “If you don’t open this door now, I’ll scream my head off and have management to throw you out of the hotel,” I said.
“Oh, you wouldn’t do that. I do not mean any harm. If you would just talk with me you’ll see there will be no need to do that.”
“Try me! Just because I’m from a foreign country that does not mean I do not know what’s on your mind.”
“See, it would be your word against mine seeing there are no witnesses. So what do you say?” he said.
He reached down toward me. I knocked his hand off the button and the door opened. I almost ran into the people who were waiting to step on to the elevator.
“Excuse me,” I said as I hurried out. I thought I heard a female voice say, “Hey, Milton. I thought you had forgotten to come get me, so I decided to head on down.”