Thursday, September 17, 2009
I got back to the hotel after a particularly intense day of training one evening, changed into my comfy jeans and headed down to the lobby to catch up on blogs and email. There are two computers set up in what the hotel calls their 'library' ...a little alcove near the lobby and around the corner from the reception/dining area. It's private enough for email, but if there are people in the dining room, it can be loud. There was a handful of people in the dining room when I passed through on my way to the library this particular evening. Most of them were business travelers but there was also one lady with three small children.
I had been at the computer for about 15 minutes when I heard a cell phone ring around the corner in the dining room. I heard a man answer and start a conversation with what sounded like a buddy of his. For simplicity sake, I will refer to the caller as PhoneBuddy. The conversation was pretty tame at first. They talked sports for a little while and then the guy on this end started talking about the possibility of getting another friend of his hired on with PhoneBuddy. Now I can only hear one end of this conversation, but PhoneBuddy must have started telling about something really bad that happened at his end of the world. The man on this end stopped mid-sentence and went into intense listening mode ... only interrupting PhoneBuddy occasionally with a dramatic, "NO!" or "Oh, my God, no!" every few seconds.
Now my kids have been grown and out from under my roof for almost a decade, but back in the day, I could have given them "the look" from across a crowded room and brought to an immediate screeching halt whatever behavior they were engaged in at the moment that had elicited my disapproval. I did not really expect the man to react at all and I would probably not have had the guts to follow up with anything more if he had ignored me. I would have just gone back to my room.
But much to my surprise, as far as "the LOOK" goes, I've apparently still got it! The man stopped mid-sentence and with wide-eyed expression said, "I'm so sorry ...I didn't know you were there, ma'am. Please excuse me!" It was not the least bit sarcastic, it was immediate and heartfelt. He then spoke to PhoneBuddy in a hushed tone and said, "Man, I just really screwed up. I've been mouthin' off and there's a lady right around the corner ...I didn't know she was there!" Even his explanation to PhoneBuddy did not sound the least bit resentful or sarcastic. I smiled a thank you and went back to my email.
A few minutes later, the lady with the three small children came into the library and got on the other computer. A few minutes later and again much to my surprise, the man who had been talking on the phone came and joined her. He was pushing a double stroller of the cutest little four month old twins and leading an equally cute three year old by the hand. The woman and three young children were his! He had been talking that way in front of his own wife and small children. I smiled at the three year old and commented how cute all the kids were. The man looked at me and said, "Thank you, ma'am, and please forgive my rudeness earlier." I held up my hand and said, "It's okay ...it's so commonplace these days, hardly anyone notices. But the fact that you reacted with such remorse after a mere disapproving look from a total stranger tells me you were raised right. I used to use that 'look' on my own two children but they are grown and on their own now. I'm just glad to know I've still got it!" We both had a good laugh.