via Daily Prompt: Hospitality

Reciprocity. An exchange of goodwill between people. It used to be such a feature of many cultures, now I’m not so sure. I’m always amused by “Thank you for your hospitality” because I tend not to focus on something that I think is a basic human exchange, like the Nike add of old, Just Do It!

There’s also what I call ersatz hospitality. I always thank the checkout people, because they’re having to function in a highly social situation, sometimes being friendly is a cost, and it never hurts to reciprocate. However, there’s that moment when you go to a hotel, motel or B&B, and you’ve paid a small fortune, and for the plastic officiousness they seem to require a reciprocal comment. A bit like a mutual admiration society. I’m really resistant to that one. They’d hardly be that friendly if you had a cash flow problem, so its not reciprocal, its only for the money, you’re paying them to be nice. Derrida brought this to the fore when he separated hospitality into conditional and unconditional hospitality.

The root meaning of hospitality, which is the same for hospital, is to offer a service, or a kindness, to offer care for someone, unconditionally. If its conditional I can’t see that it qualities as reciprocal, caring, or kind. If its for the money, where’s the integrity? Hospitality, for me, has nothing to do with money and everything to do with unconditional care for the other.

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