Mr. Han, who owned restaurants in Ocala and Gainesville, would arrive at the Inn Terri and I owned before noon on Saturday mornings. He would request the same room, one located near the back entrance, register, pay in advance and request that a wine cooler with ice and two champagne flutes be placed in the room. The following morning we would find two bottles of Dom Perignon champagne, one empty and one open and almost full.
Never having seen her—he would arrive late and leave early the following morning—we would speculate about Mr. Han’s companion. Terri pictured a beautiful oriental woman: petite, with long black hair and dressed in a silk kimono. I envisioned a tall, well-built blonde, wearing high-heels and a short, tight dress.
As we consumed the left behind champagne, our conjectures about Mr. Han’s woman turned to paranoia. After all, during World War I, a rumor spread throughout Ocala the original owners of our inn were German spies. People believed there was a basement tunnel to be used to escape government agents. What if he was entertaining a modern day Mata Hari? We decided to end our speculation by spying on Mr. Han.
It’s location made it difficult to see Mr. Han’s room. However, the roof over the back of the inn presented an ideal location to observe him and his guest. Fortified by wine, late on a Saturday evening, Terri and I crawled out on the roof to await his arrival.
After an hour, tired of sitting on the roof, I fetched additional wine and we continued our surveillance. Around 1:00 A.M. we were awakened—having fallen asleep it was a miracle we hadn’t tumbled off the roof—by the sound of a car. I heard the motor stop, a door close and approaching footsteps. Carefully, hanging over the edge of the roof we awaited Mr. Han and his guest. The tension rose with the anticipation our curiosity being satisfied: would it be the petite, beautiful oriental, the sexy blonde or Mata Hari in a trench coat?
Finally, the light over the door illuminated them. Mr. Han and a 50 year-old, pink haired, overweight, cigarette-smoking woman in a waitress uniform. As I grabbed the roof to keep from falling off, I found my face to be inches from his.
Mr. Han left early the next morning. He didn’t mention our spying; he also never again booked a room with us. They say curiosity killed the cat: in our case curiosity cost us a customer and accompanying bottles of champagne.
This experience taught us to mind our own business. Prying into the lives of others results in shattered business and personal relationships.
“Who could deny that privacy is a jewel? It has always been the mark of privilege, the distinguishing feature of a truly urbane culture. Out of the cave, the tribal teepee, the pueblo, the community fortress, man emerged to build himself a house of his own with a shelter in it for himself and his diversions. Every age has seen it so. The poor might have to huddle together in cities for need’s sake, and the frontiersman cling to his neighbors for the sake of protection. But in each civilization, as it advanced, those who could afford it chose the luxury of a withdrawing-place.” -Phyllis Mcginley