The Owl

After over ten years of running this hotel I thought I had seen and heard it all until the other night.  It was a quiet night early April with hardly any guests at the hotel, mainly due to COVID. The phone rang just before 10pm and a man, who introduced himself as our neighbour, spoke in broken French.  We soon switched into English as it was obvious that the man was British.  He said  « We have now been listening to a car alarm on your parking for a long while and I would like it to stop ».  I answered that I doubted there was an alarm ringing on my parking as I live right next door, in fact almost on the parking, to which the man responded « hey, after having lived here for 3 years, this is the first time that I have ever complained about living next to you and I am trying to be nice ».  I immediately thought « I wonder what he is like when he is not nice » as the tone was pretty aggressive. I said that I thought it might be a bird, as it was the mating season and we have lots of birds on the property. My neighbour made it clear that it could not be a bird, as he knew bird sounds. I suggested I go out on to the parking whilst talking to my neighbour.  There was no alarm ringing on the parking.  I then moved on further towards our second parking and realised that I could now hear the man directly as he was just on the other side of the hedge. We closed our phones and spoke across the hedge.  I confirmed that the noise did not come from a car on either of my parkings and reiterated that it might be coming from a bird.  My neighbour would have none of that , but he now had to accept that at least there was no car alarm ringing on my property.  He said he would have to continue searching and wished me a good night.  On my way back to the house I passed a large pine tree and above me I could hear the sound my neighbour had been referring to very clearly.  It was indeed coming from an owl.  I decided to call my Neighbour to make him listen.  He was still uncertain until the sound stopped, because I had now disturbed the bird. Finally the neighbour had to concede.  I then received a couple of text messages, which if you read between the lines, came close to an apology.  I was even told that his 11 year old son who had heard the sound wanted to make sure that the owner of the car alarm, would not wake up to a flat battery ! Quite a different pitch to the one earlier in our conversation.  In the hotel business we are often victims of other people’s stress levels and we just have to learn how to be zen, whilst firm without being unfriendly as the opposite might scare away our only asset, our clients.