Monday, April 22, 2013

Sometimes the little thins make a huge difference

I've had a rough week -- beyond being stressed by the volume of work that needs to be accomplished in a frighteningly short amount of time, and more importantly, my Grandfather in Northern Michigan is not doing so well.

For as long as I can remember he's been physically and intellectually strong, and with an engineer's mind we share a lot in common, including a love of travel (he prefers to drive; I prefer to fly), even after a multiple myeloma diagnosis a few years ago he was still in relatively good condition. But over the past few months his condition has deteriorated alarmingly.

My mother flew out from Portland to visit him this weekend and I took Friday to make the 7-hour/450-mile drive up to see both my mom and my grandfather; it was tough to see him so incapacitated. And even tougher to leave -- but it was necessary as I need to be in Columbus (where I am now) for a project Monday morning.

While my grandfather would have no problems with it, putting in another 470 miles and 7 hours to get from Michigan to Columbus in two days is a little more than my ideal tolerance for driving, and combined with an emotionally draining few days...well... There were more than a few times I thought about just pulling off the road and taking a nap.

But I made it to the hotel -- the Hampton Inn Columbus/Dublin -- and checked in. I've stayed at this property before -- most recently about two months ago -- but I didn't recognize the gentleman behind the counter. As he checked me in he mentioned "Stephanie said to say Hi."

That lifted my spirits a little -- as a mid-grade road warrior I tend to feel like I fall into obscurity on the road. Despite the scripted, almost robotic, greetings that are doled out as part of the "standard" Hilton HHonors Gold greeting, I don't get the sense of human-to-human connection.

I remember Stephanie well from my last visit -- actually her genuine hospitality is probably 90% of the reason I came back to this property rather than "shopping around" a bit. I also remember asking the "crazy question" about the keycards.

(Aside) You see: Hampton Inn has, for as long as I've been a "road warrior", issued a unique keycard for each state ("Welcome To ________"). The first Hampton I visit in each state, I keep one of the key cards -- working towards my unwritten goal of "Collecting all 50". I was somewhat alarmed on my last visit to note that instead of the "Welcome to Ohio" keycard, there was a new card advertising USA Today. Not because I needed an Ohio card, but rather because I was looking forward to adding Arizona to my collection with my first trip to that state. Aside from graciously answering my question and offering to find an Ohio card if I needed one, I had largely forgotten the specific question.

But as I trundled up to my room, I noticed a piece of paper in with my key card. On it, the hand-written note:

"Hey! Welcome back! So apparently the keys you had last time were a promo. I believe we are all going back to the state keys. See you tomorrow! Stephanie"

It sounds a little goofy, but I have to say it instantly buoyed my spirits -- rather than being a faceless reservation number or a nameless person wandering the halls of a global corporation I felt like I was truly someone's guest, not to mention that I was tremendously impressed that despite the number of travelers seen on any given day she remembered both me and my question from my last visit -- almost exactly two months ago.

It was a simple -- but extremely nice -- end to a very long weekend.


No comments:

Post a Comment