celebrate kindness

Archive for May 2015

Memorial Day brings a tidal wave of emotion for many. As we reflect on our freedom, we are reminded of the ultimate sacrifice paid by thousands. To grasp the magnitude of such a solemn gift is nearly incomprehensible.

Today we are traveling almost 500 miles by car and I’m caught in a quandary of thoughts as I look out my passenger-side window.

Cities with grand monuments. Small-town shops flanked with flags. Parades and picnics, celebrating all the benefits we enjoy from the service and sacrifice of others.

I am humbled.

I saw a meme in my newsfeed today that stated “It’s Memorial Day, not Veteran’s Day. Don’t confuse the two.” I was taken aback by the bluntness and I respectfully disagree. While both holidays were created to honor separate entities of service, I feel that any moment of respect shown to our service members, whether past or present, fallen or alive, is worthy of our time.

Driving down Main Street (in more than one town!), your attention is drawn to the details – the kindness shown by community members to honor those who deserve our respect.

As we traversed from north to south, I was struck by the pride shown in various towns for their “Hometown Heroes.” One had vertical banners placed on light posts, depicting the names, photos, and branches of service represented by their citizens.

Another town had rows of flags placed in a field with a simple sign of pride.

To live in a country that allows so many freedoms, including the right to free speech, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness.

And though I am stuck in the passenger seat of my car, I still found a way to show my appreciation to those who passed me by.

I love to celebrate achievements. Ok, fine, I love to celebrate EVERYTHING! Today my husband ran his 17th marathon in Buffalo, NY and we came along for the journey to cheer him on.

As many of you runners know, race morning is crazy, especially when it’s a sold-out city race. Race organizers encouraged spectators to skip the finish line and meet their runners in the convention center. Many roads were blocked off and traffic was rerouted.

We were 479 miles from home in an unfamiliar city with three children in tow. Not an ideal situation for waiting 4 hours to celebrate a 26.2 mile finish. The kids and I decided to stay back at the hotel, while my husband ran the race with his buddies who had also traveled from Virginia.

Even though we weren’t at the actual race, we still wanted to celebrate this accomplishment. 17 marathons? That’s insane!

We made posters in the room using the tag board and markers I proactively packed in my backpack. I wanted to display the signs on our hotel door, but quickly discovered that I forget to bring tape.

Dang it!

The futile search through my purse resulted in a stack of post-it notes, mints, lip balm, ear buds and two Hot Wheels cars. Being creative, I decided to use the post-it notes as adhesive strips to attach the signs to our door. Genius!

The signs stayed on the door a grand 23 seconds before dramatically falling to the floor in a fluorescent heap of hard work.

“If you need some tape, you can borrow some from the front desk.”

I turned to see the hotel housekeeper, her friendly smile observing my disastrous decorating. I returned the smile and thanked her for the suggestion.

We chatted a bit more; I gave her permission to skip cleaning our room and she graciously gave me new towels and trash bags. I returned to my room to put on my shoes, then headed down to the front desk.

She beat me there.

When I approached the hotel entrance, there she was, pieces of tape hanging from each of her fingertips. “I was going to bring these to you for your signs. Here’s more tape if you need it.” I nearly squealed from my joy!

(Ok. I’ll be honest. I really did squeal. I was so excited!)

We both returned to our stations, me at my door, her across the hall cleaning someone else’s room. We chatted while we tended to our separate tasks. I learned that her name was Stacey and she wasn’t much of a runner. Her dad raised her to play softball and somewhere along the way she discovered a natural talent for bowling. We both agreed it was much more enjoyable to play for fun and let your talent shine versus playing with vengeance and spite.

My door was finished and we parted ways. The tape not only held the signs securely, but looked a lot better, too.

A while later, I passed Stacey again as I was taking my children to the pool. She recognized me and waved, holding out two sets of stickers for the kids. How thoughtful and kind! I couldn’t resist the opportunity to thank her again and take a photo to post on this blog.

When was the last time you stopped to chat with a stranger? Maybe you feel awkward, or haven’t had a really good reason to share more than casual pleasantries. That’s ok; no judgment here. 

The next time you’re traveling however, take just a few moments from your busy day to thank those who make your stay a bit nicer. Greet hotel workers with a smile. Show your appreciation with kindness or a monetary tip. You might find yourself being blessed just the same!

If you are traveling to Buffalo, you might consider staying at the Airport Comfort Suites. I know of an awesome housekeeper named Stacey who can help you with anything you need.

Even locating tape. 😊

It was nearly midnight. The three children were fast asleep in the backseat of the car, their bodies stacked like fallen dominoes. After 5 hours of driving, we were ready to crawl into bed and collapse.

The hotel door opened easily and the king sized bed was a cloud of heavenly white. As I pulled out the sleeper sofa, there was a knock at the door. “Ma’am, we need to move you into another room. This door lock is broken.”

Did I mention that it was almost midnight and we were past the point of exhaustion? Sigh.

We repacked the few things already scattered across the floor. The boys grumbled as they put their shoes back on and we exited the condemned room. The manager on duty returned a short while later, new room keys in hand.

“The only room we have available has two queen sized beds. I hope that’s OK.”

Another sigh, this one audible. Our world is not made for a family of five. From restaurant tables to commuter flights, there’s always a “special request” necessary to accommodate all of us to stay together. And usually, an extra cost as well.

The manager knew I was tired. Frustrated. Exasperated. All attempts to locate a portable cot were unsuccessful. Her arms overflowing with fluffy comforters, she offered apologies, suggesting we could create a temporary bed on the floor for the night.

My smile was weak with resignation, but I thanked her for her efforts. After all, the broken door knob and sparse alternatives weren’t her fault.

The next morning, my little guy spotted the notepad and pen on the bedside table and started to write the letters of the alphabet, one letter for each piece of paper. (Oh, the joys of kindergarten – learning isn’t contained to school days only!)

Alas, there were only a few sheets of paper on the notepad. I smiled at my son and headed down to the front desk to ask for another pad of paper.

I saw her friendly smile as soon as I exited the elevator. The manager on duty last night was still here, working the final hours of her shift.

“Thanks again for trying to help us last night. We all slept really well.” Her smile widened with the unexpected compliment. We chatted a bit, then I explained the dilemma of the notepad. 

“Could we possibly have another notepad? My son loves to practice his writing.” 

“Of course! Be right back!”

She returned with a stack of notepads and a pad of lined paper. Wow! I wasn’t expecting all that! I thanked her for her generosity and returned to the room, my son overjoyed by the unexpected surprise.

As we packed up our belongings and checked out of the hotel, my son and I made a special trip back to the front desk where he personally thanked the manager for her kindness. He also shared some of his SpongeBob drawings, too, his face beaming with pride from her compliments.

It was a quick but pleasant stay, thanks to a very special manager who went above and beyond to make her weary guests feel welcomed.

If you’re ever driving on Rt. 15 through the rolling hills of Pennsylvania and need a place to rest, you might want to stop in at the Selinsgrove Hampton Inn. I know of a manager on duty who would be thrilled to have you there.

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