By Teresa Keebler
It was 11 p.m. The voice on the other end of the phone asked if I knew an older gentleman named Del, and gave his last name. I told him, yes, that was my grandfather’s name.
I’d been surprised by the telephone ringing, and now immediately began wondering why a stranger would call about my grandfather.
The man, who sounded like he was in his early 40s, said he was manager of a hotel in Coos Bay, Oregon, a couple hundred miles from my town. He said my grandpa had come in off the street asking for a room. The manager, “Paul”, explained that this older gentleman seemed lost and confused, and he was worried about turning him away without helping him.
The problem was, grandpa was trying to use a credit card that wasn’t active. Grandpa Del had only been able to tell Paul that he’d just gotten off the bus coming from Bend, Oregon. Grandpa couldn’t remember any of his family’s phone numbers.
Worried about calling the police or sending this frail man in his 90s out on his own, Paul had searched phone listings all over the state for anyone with the same last name. That night in July 2008, none of my family was listed in the directory — except for me. I was concerned — grandpa lived in an assisted living home nearly 200 miles away, but nobody had been alerted that he was missing.
Paul put grandpa on the phone, and he said, “I just need someone to tell this nice young man that I’m a good guy, that I’m good for the money, and when I get home I’ll pay for it.” Adorable, but not necessarily a solution in today’s world, either to needing a place to stay, or being so far from home.
Paul allowed me to use my credit card to pay for a room, offering it to grandpa for far less than the regular rate of $170. I guessed he was just recovering what the maid would earn cleaning the room.
This compassionate manager next went further above and beyond any expectations or duties one would ever hope for. He said he and his employees would watch over my grandfather until someone from my family could drive to pick him up the next morning. I was crazy with gratefulness and thanks.
I frantically called my brother and father, and they worked out that my father and uncle would drive the three hours to pick up grandpa the next morning. They’d return him to his retirement home, chosen to be near where they live.
It was so great to meet this helpful manager over the phone, even if I didn’t get to meet him personally. I was thrilled to be reminded that evening of the compassionate and helpful people who are still out there, everywhere. Paul truly was someone who would go the extra mile, to do whatever it takes to help someone who needs help.