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The Hotel: A Week in the Life of the Plaza by Sonny Kleinfield

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5

LUNCHTIME was always the hotel’s most convivial hour. The atmosphere was light, the drift to the various restaurants was casual, and talk was uninhibited. The patter ran from boyish and girlish gossip to business strategy and romantic whims.

In the commodious Palm Court, the waiters moved among the tables, falling into a small rhythm of their own. For a short while, I watched them work. There were several tables of heavy smokers in close proximity, and I played a little game. A hotel rule, I knew, required waiters never to allow an ashtray to contain more than two butts. Three presumably was too dastardly a sight even to imagine. So I watched the ashtrays fill and the waiters descend on them like locusts to see how well they stayed under the ...

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