We've been working at the edges of this, but most of us have been travelers for a long while and in the course of those travels we have met some extraordinary people who have gone far beyond what we expected to make our journey better, actually more than that, memorable!
How about a thread on these wonderful people? It does not have to be Marriott related folks but certainly they are welcome. Just remember no last names, a kind of rule in Insiders.
I got a call at Christmas several years ago that my elderly Mom in Florida needed emergency surgery to repair a heart problem. Living alone she had taken herself to the hospital and called me from there. The surgery was planned for the next morning so I rushed over to the Monterey airport to buy what I assumed would be an extremely expensive open jaw go and return ticket on United.
Chuck, the Customer Service Rep at United, listened to my request to make a holiday time visit to Orlando with interest and then asked "why the hurry?"
I mentioned the plight of my Mom and it got his fingers racing across the keyboard. "You are now 'an employee' of United and listed as having non-bump standby status, and your flight leaves in three hours. You'll be in Orlando at 5 am." (he smiled and winked).
I thanked him as he handed me a confirmed First Class roundtrip ticket, and asked how much.
Chuck said with a smile, "Just the tax, it think it's forty six dollars."
I thanked him, paid, went home, got on the flights and arrived at the hospital near Orlando at 7:45 in time to sign the papers for my Mom's surgery, which was successful. I spent eight weeks getting her to the point that she could be living alone again.
Coming home in early February I expected to see Chuck greeting us at the bottom of the ramp. He was not there, so I asked, and another employee told me that Chuck had died on the job while assisting another customer, a surgeon, who was at that point just checking in. Chuck suffered a stroke and could not be revived, sadly.
About 500 people were at his memorial service, filling the cathedral. Talking with some whom I knew I discovered that Chuck had done favors for other folks, but in my heart, it was his kindness that got me to Florida at a critical time.
What a touching story as we go into the holiday season.
The guy in the picture is Bob, he was the station manager for TWA in Orlando, and I arranged for him to meet Fred Haise ( Apollo 13). For three years I flew to Orlando on Sundays and back to STL on Fridays. Bob got to obviously know me and would have my seat on the L1011, 3A, every time I flew. I did not know that Bob loved the space program at first, but when I did I got him autographs and he went with me to some shots and also to the 25th anniversary of the Apollo program. Bob was alway "Star Struck", over all of the people he met, but just like your guy he did me a tremendous service. The L1011 came from NYC to Orlando and St. Louis, Bob would call me every Friday and say, "It's on time, It's late, or I have you on another flight".
SS, Do you think we will ever have service like these people again? I flew Southwest last night back from Orlando, and I hope that is my last flight on SW, thinking of Bob and "The good ole days"!
Jerry, thanks, great memory too. I guess that this kind of service is the kind that you cannot train people to do, they just do it from something inside themselves. I recall the superlative treatment I got on United as a 1K flier, with a personal concierge meeting my flights, a private lounge (not the Red Carpet) with a fulltime attendant, changes made for me, upgrades without miles, and the like.
It's always nice to find people who make the extra effort, This fellow seems to be one of them. Thanks.
People like Bob are a find - - and you as well paid it forward once you found out something he liked in the space program. I find this type relationship with the Renaissance Boca Raton when I show up there. It is still developing and not at the level of SS and Chuck or you and Bob but - I think there are still some gems out there!
Jerry - My condolences as well.
My dad also passed away recently (92 years old) and, at the risk of being presumptuous, what helped me through it all was the following from Socrates: "Be of good hope in the face of death, and in this one truth be certain. That no evil can befall a good man either in life or in death and that his fate is not a matter of indifference to the Gods."
The following poem by Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate was also helpful - My best friend and traveling companion Brenda read it at Dad's funeral:
(Former U.S. Poet Laureate)
The dead are always looking down on us, they say,
while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,
they are looking down through the glass bottom boats of heaven
as they row themselves slowly through eternity.
They watch the tops of our heads moving below on earth,
and when we lie down in a field or on a couch,
drugged perhaps by the hum of a long afternoon,
they think we are looking back at them,
which makes them lift their oars and fall silent
and wait, like parents, for us to close our eyes.
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
I was sorry to learn of your loss. Let me echo SS's condolences.
My own father died last year. I ended my address at his funeral by borrowing eight words from Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, which I felt captured his essence::
"With malice towards none: with charity for all".
All best wishes,
That is a inspiring story about Chuck and how a true customer service person - if found acts. It is second nature and some people like Chuck are good at it!!! I'm sure this was a major loss to all who knew him, his family, friends and the persons like you who were lucky enough to bump into Chuck!!!! Thanks for telling us and it was awesome how you made it in time to be there when your mother needed you too.