Human Desire: What’s the Point(s)?

Wilko instigated this whole affair. He is a lanky fellow, with glasses and a cheerful attitude.  At breakfast one morning, he asked me how many Starwood Points I had. His guess was as good as mine, I replied. Ah, the nonchalance! The innocence! Prior to this, I had been receiving monthly emails from SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) for the past year or so, but not engaging with the contents.

It turns outs, upon closer inspection, that the emails contain updates of my accumulated points due to my stayovers at the Hotel Le Meridien, Stuttgart. A few days later I had the opportunity to discuss this with Whatshisname-from-the-US-via-Bulgaria-now-on-an-internship-in-Germany-during-his-MBA (believe me, this is easier than trying to remember his first name),

who told me that he had had to check-out during his months-long stay so that he could move
up to Gold Status. I was intrigued. I checked my mails again, and saw that I was merely a “Preferred Guest”: 8 Stays or 7 nights away from Gold Status.

I quickly checked with the Concierge whether I had to check out to upgrade and then check back in. He reckoned it was not necessary. I wondered, though, if I was missing out. What privileges might accrue to me if I reached the elevated levels of Gold, and then, onwards to Platinum?

I had, in other words, triggered my human desire for more! These previously pointless points, latent for a year at least, had suddenly acquired a deeper meaning. They had acquired a value. From then on, I became involved in ever more detailed discussions with the other consultants concerning this minutiae. What a wonderful scheme to occupy the minds of these highly intelligent people (Not quite The Glass Bead Game, but we’re headed there:).

We are privileged enough in having our client pay for our stays at the best hotel money can buy, but we additionally get to gather the points in our own names. That’s like having your cake and eating it, with extra ice-cream.

I heard stories of three week holidays in Barbados with “free” accommodation at a luxury hotel (‘paid’ with these SPG points). Wow! One can even trade these points for a round-the-world trip with the SPG partnering airline. Is there no end to the joy that only points can bring?

I naturally felt envy towards the others, and, I admit, a slight shade of shame, at my meagre rating of points. My mind feasted on fantasies of how I would get the necessary points and then, what I would do once I got them: stacks and stacks of points. In the end, perhaps nothing; perhaps all I wanted was the points. Or would the chase, as in so many cases, turn out to be more thrilling than the capture?

After a while, I began to hallucinate: endless stays at exotic locations; points falling like the snow I had first encountered only last year (one at a time, to be sure, but countless beyond measure, each one to be treasured); “It’s raining points, Hallelujah!” began to play at one ‘point’.

Aaagghh!!! I couldn’t get away from it, from them, my mind reeling from the effort of comprehending my life hanging by these points. The effect was somewhat allayed by the image of me swinging in a hammock, suspended by these same points nailed into the nearest coconut tree.

I had found a new purpose. I became determined to accumulate more. In short, I became human.

I even wondered, in an existential crisis over coffee, whether there was, in fact, A Point.

I leave the last word to the great Kafka who understood such things, a true visionary.
He wrote: “Beyond a certain point there is no return. This point has to be reached.”

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