The Hotel Clerk

When’s the last time someone shocked you with an ill-mannered comment or flabbergasted you with an unwarranted reprimand? Maybe during traffic? At the office? At a family gathering? For many of us, at least for me at times, our first “go-to” response might be to bite back, retaliate, show them a thing or two. That was my response concerning the youngster at the hotel who took my reservation over the phone. 

Rich and I were planning a quick trip to Austin. I had called the hotel and was trying to secure our stay for the night, but I couldn’t hear the reservation clerk. So I talked louder, thinking if I talked louder she would too. Much to my surprise she barked, “HEY, LADY YOU DON’T HAVE TO YELL AT ME!!” I was taken back. What hotel clerk talks to potential guests like that? Who was this little whippersnapper that needed a lesson in life on how to treat customers? (Her name was Jessica.)  So after hanging up, I thought…I’ll “help” her learn a lesson about customer service and maybe save her from getting fired on down the road. In fact, when I get there, I’ll discuss this with Jessica and her boss.  Plus, it’d appease my offense, if you really want to know the truth. 

The stage was set. The morning we were checking out, I spotted whom I knew to be Jessica.  Now all I had to do was approach the counter and say, “Hello, miss, can I see your manager?” That person would appear and the three of us would have an “interesting” conversation about proper etiquette in the workplace.  When I got to the desk, Jessica blurted out, “So how can I help you?” At that moment the Holy Spirit said, “NO, Pam! Bless her instead!” I was stunned!  Bless or curse? I stood there like a deer trapped in the headlights. His stern voice caught me off guard as much as her rude voice did the same the week before. 

She continued, “SO, WHAT DO YOU WANT!?” (Of course, she didn’t know who I was, nor did she likely remember I was one of the many she had scolded.) Nonetheless, the awkward glare pursued. In a split moment, I opened my mouth and answered, “Jessica, I just hope you have a nice day.” I turned around and headed toward the lobby couch, somewhat disappointed that God had ruined my well-thought-out education lesson. I opened my daily devotional to something like this:

How is it possible that you who has been blessed by the mercy of God can’t extend that same mercy to others? Why is retaliation or setting someone straight more often your natural response to an offense than forgiveness and kindness? How is it that you can be so impatient and feel the urge to defend your rights when God’s patience with you stands as the most redemptive miracle of your life? 

Conviction stung my soul.  I thought…Why is my heart more often ruled by my thoughts than what rules his? Why is it easier to take the low road than the high road? Why does it feel like his kingdom and my kingdom are sometimes more at war than peace? 

As I was exiting the hotel doors in a stupor, Jessica YELLED once again, “Bye, ma’am. Have a good day!” I couldn’t help by think…Well, not she’s being all nice, but maybe no one had spoken a kind greeting to her all week.

It goes to show that no one knows how far a kind response to an angry soul will travel. Looks like the only whippersnapper who learned a lesson that day was me.   

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. —1 Thessalonians 5:15 (AMP)


About Pam Kanaly   Read more by this author...

Aloha! I’m Pam Kanaly, President and co-founder of Arise Ministries. But actually, I think Arise found me wanting to bless single moms years ago. Ministry was never on my mind as a kid. All I wanted to be was a hula dancer. So Mother enrolled me in the tiny tots’ class. Guess God knew I'd have two grandbabies born in Hawaii. I love the great outdoors. You might even find me spending time with my husband grizzly bear watching or camping. In fact, it was on a turkey hunt that God gave me the name Arise Ministries in 2002. I suppose it’s a good thing that I majored in Grammar in college since I love to write words of encouragement to single moms.

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