An encounter with a woman in Oregon has stuck with me. We didn’t even talk to her but an increasingly loud conversation she had with a woman at the front desk at a hotel, although brief, was memorable.
We were checking in at a Best Western Plus and so was the guest, a woman around the age of 70. She asked about a microwave in the room and the woman at the front desk said there wasn’t one. The guest was shocked.
GUEST: “But this is a Best Western PLUS. The PLUS means you have a microwave! We were going to get some pizza!”
DESK: “I’m sorry Ma’am. None of our rooms have a microwave in them.”
GUEST: “But you’re a PLUS! I never imagined a PLUS wouldn’t include a microwave.”
DESK: “I’m on break in a half hour. No one delivers here but I’d be happy to bring you back a pizza, if you like.”
GUEST: “But we wanted to heat it up later in the MICROWAVE! How’r we gonna do that now?”
DESK: “I’m sorry Ma’am. There isn’t anything I can do about that, but I will get you a pizza, or maybe there’s something else you’d like?”
GUEST: “What I’d LIKE is a MICROWAVE in my ROOM!” She stomped out of the lobby.
DESK: ~soft sigh~
When the guest left, I complimented the employee for offering to spend her break getting pizza for this woman. It was more than generous but her act of kindness was completely lost on the guest. Instead of staying so fixated on the microwave, she could have chosen to stay somewhere else or accepted reality. The microwave wasn’t happening no matter what fuss she put up. Talk about a first world problem.
Maybe this woman didn’t encounter homeless people, drawn to the warmth of the Pacific in hopes of just staying alive. Maybe she was just having a bad day and this was one thing too many. It’s also possible that she doesn’t experience gratitude at all, or enough, because from where I stood, she seemed to have it pretty good in her one-night, microwave-less existence.
I hope I’m never so caught up in my own expectations that I miss a selfless act of generosity that’s right in front of me. However, we sometimes need people to behave this way in our presence to remind us of what’s important and to be aware of the kindness of others.