by Dave FlorCruz
The second day of August 2004 was much like any slow summer day in the hospitality business in Washington, DC. I work in a medium sized hotel for a well-known hotel company. We had some small excitement due to a “suspicious looking package” left out on the plaza atop the Metro station — the terror alert had been elevated, naming some targets in DC. It was in all other regards a slow, sleepy August Sunday. Because this is a convention and business traveler’s hotel, summer is our slow season.
As evening descended a woman arrived at the front desk. She asked the recently promoted Front Desk Supervisor, Jason, if she could extend her stay. He pulled up her room account and noted that she had checked in under our company’s “Friends and Family” rate. He willingly extended her stay under that discounted rate for the evening, as it was Sunday and there weren’t too many guests in the hotel.
He then informed her that, regrettably, being as the business week began the next day, Monday; he would be unable to extend that courtesy to her further. Hotels generally offer discounted rates unless business dictates that there will be customers willing to pay the full rate.
Obviously distressed, the woman stated resignedly, “Well, I have to stay. My granddaughter is in Children’s Hospital.” Aside from routine pediatric care, The Children’s National Medical Center is well known for taking critical cases of children whose families would otherwise be unable to obtain the care they need.
The woman then departed for her room.
After the woman left the front desk, a gentleman who had been nearby and heard the exchange approached Jason, and handed him two $100 bills, saying, “This is for the difference in that woman’s bill.” He then left the front desk.
About fifteen minutes later, the man came back. He asked how much the woman’s entire bill would be. When told it was about $1300.00, he told Jason to put the entire bill on his credit card. He said if the woman asked, he was only to tell her that he “has two healthy children and thanks God for it”. What an extraordinary act of kindness! A stranger in a big city saw another stranger’s plight and, with no thought of recognition, seized the opportunity to lift a woman’s burden and help ease her anguish.
When the woman came by the front desk later, she was told what the stranger had done, and that no personal information about him could be released. She was so overcome that she needed to be escorted back to her room, sobbing tears of joy and gratitude.
The entire scenario brought tears to many otherwise worldly hotel employees, and helped to restore our collective faith in humanity.