Unexpected thank you…..

I am traveling this week for business and, as I blogged about it earlier this week, it provides me a different perspective outside of my daily routine.

One thing I have implemented in my business travels and now even in my personal travels is leaving a tip for the hotel maids. A quick internet search reveals that only about 30% of folks tip the lady who clean up after you. And the average tip isn’t very substantial — $1-2 or $3-5 per day depending on what web site you refer to or what type of hotel you stay in.

I decided to take a look at it from a different perspective — one from a ministry or outreach point of view. You see, this hotel maid position is one that is almost always filled by a woman who is at the lower end of the economic spectrum. Sometimes she doesn’t even speak English. And she fills a role that is invisible to most travelers and quite often goes unnoticed….. unless it is not done. Some might even perceive her as the sustainer of life given the fact that she replenishes those vital coffee packets for your morning java. Here lies an opportunity to show appreciation to someone who probably works hard every day without recognition or appreciation, whose work most likely goes unnoticed, and who could most likely heavily benefit from my generosity because of her economic condition.

So for the last many years I have deliberately planned for and left a $10 a night tip along with an encouraging note for my hotel maids. And while usually the cash and note are gone upon my return to my room, sometimes I receive a nice surprise upon my return back to my temporary home. On one stay at a nice hotel in San Francisco, I received a handwritten note saying “Thank you Mr. ——–”. I received this every day during my stay there. On another stay in Switzerland (where I was leaving my notes in German) I received a very nice thank you note in English saying “Thank you very much. Have a nice day”. Well, this evening when I came back to my room I received a little arrangement of goodies around the note I had left the maid. The chocolates reminded me of a time gone by where you would get little chocolate mints left on your pillow. And while I have never had that happen, this is about as close as it gets.

I am blogging about this, not to brag about my acts but to encourage other travelers, especially those on business trips, to have an impact on some people who they probably don’t interact with much. Leave a note or say a thank you. The small gesture with a tip might go a long way towards supporting someone who works hard but probably isn’t compensated or recognized for it.

In fact, I am going to do something different with my tip tomorrow morning and leave it with one of my “Jesus Loves You” cards.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Observations from a day of travel…..

Prior to getting married, I had a tech job for 2 years that required travel at least every other week and usually 3 to 4 weeks out of each month. And while that was OK when I was young, I am sure glad I don’t have to keep up that pace now, especially now that I have a wife and kids. So for me, business travel is over-rated and I would much rather stay at home with the family and be happy in my routine.

However, my job now requires a little bit of business travel which is manageable — about 6 trips a year, and not all of them are for the entire week. What the business travel does is get me out of my routine and show me different perspectives, situations, landscapes, and opportunities. Below are the observations from my day of travel yesterday.

I have blogged before about how much I love our airport – Louisville’s Standiford Field (SDF). It is easy enough to get around, not crowded, usually has enough TSA folks herding you through security, and tends to be friendly as far as airports go. Well, recently they installed those new body scanners — the ones the privacy folks are all up in arms about. They still have the metal detectors there off to the side and I wondered when they were going to completely remove them.

So it was funny when the lady pilot ahead of me in the security line pushed her carry ons through the X-ray scanner and then stepped behind me. She went over to the metal detector and waited behind the little divider slidy thing like you find at the bank. Soon enough, a TSA agent went over, officially released the divider slidy thing, the pilot walked through the metal detector, and the TSA resecured the divider slidy thing with an official click. Once through the metal detector successfully, she shimmied through a little side gate around the body scanner and on to retrieve her carry ons. I meant to catch up to the pilot to ask the “whys” of that maneuver. Was it a pilot only option? Can regular folks do that? Was it a privacy principle? Or a way for an individual to show up the over-reaching bounds of an ever-expanding nanny gov’t? Unfortunately, she entered United’s executive lounge just as I caught up to her. I’ll never know, but I think I’m going to do some research. A hunch says that the TSA is required to provide body scanner options. I just don’t want to every opt out of the body scanner and get a body cavity search instead of the metal detector. Ugh — THAT would suck! Note to self – ensure metal detector equipment is available and operational before requesting a body scanner option. Better yet, next time when traveling with a friend or work colleague, convince them to do it first as a test subject.

My next item was a very enjoyable conversation I had with my seatmate Peg. This is more suited as an entire entry for the category “The People You Meet”, so I will keep you in suspense. But I can tell you that it is people like Peg who make traveling so interesting if you are open to opportunities that are right in front of you…..or in my case, right next to me.

After saying goodbye to Peg and arriving to a beautiful Seattle day, I retrieved my luggage and negotiated my way through SEA-TAC airport to secure my rental-mobile. They have redone SEA-TAC since I have been there and now the rental agencies are off the airport property across the border in Canada…..well, not actually. But it sure seemed like it from the bus ride. Thankfully, the cheerful lady driving the bus was a joy to talk to. It was waiting in the assigned “Rental Cars” general area and she greeted me being one of the first ones on the bus. She also looked at me with a very familiar look and asked if we had worked together many years ago. While I went to school up in Seattle back in the 80′s, I was pretty certain I did not know her so I told her that was my evil twin brother. She laughed and we proceeded to converse. She used to drive buses up in “Metro” but is now cheerfully greeting weary travelers and car renters at SEA-TAC. The weather came up and a couple of other riders chimed in. She mentioned that it was starting to get “hot”, clarifying that it means the temps are in the 80′s. A lady rider listening stated it was all relative because an 80′s day in Phoenix where she is from is cool. We all laughed as folks in the back wondered what all the fun was about that they were missing. Soon enough, “Pat” (that’s what I am going to call the bus driver lady) was safely chauffeuring us to the cornucopia of rental car agencies. As we approached the large off site rental hub, she was extremely helpful in providing exit direction and setting people up for success to get on the major freeways and area arterial roads. I am sure one or two folks would still be aimlessly cycling around the rental property looking for the rat maze way out if she had not provided excellent direction to us. Interestingly, that is the only time of all my travels that I have heard a helpful pre-direction statement like that.

I have blogged before about various food places that are west coast based that we miss in Kentucky. In-N-Out Burger is the primary but there are a few others like Jamba Juice (which I enjoyed while hubbing through Chicago) and Baja Fresh. Well, I searched out a Baja Fresh by SEA-TAC and found one in nearby Kent, WA. I pulled up after the lunch rush and proceeded to order my favorite Baja Burrito, however, this time I got ono (fish) instead of the normal steak. That was new to their menu so I figured I’d try it. Additionally, I ordered chips and pico de gallo for my road trip down to Portland. The manager/order taker guy was very friendly so I also asked him if I could order some extra of their very handy, reusable, large plastic cups. They come with a lid and plastic straw and I have used them at home for years. I tend to drink a lot (luckily I don’t like the taste of alcohol or I’d be a raging alcoholic) so I like large glasses. The fact these are plastic, have a lid, and can be taken on the go is a huge attraction for me. I was down to my last one at home and it was pretty beaten up from hundreds of dishwasher cycles. So I was excited that I had found a Baja Fresh, not only for my Mexican food craving, but also for my plastic cup stock. I told the manager of my excitement of being there and how I had driven straight from the airport. He found that interesting and we started talking about where I was from and how they had to build some Baja Freshes in Kentucky. He also knew about the very first Baja Fresh in Newbury Park which was the one I used to go to. It was very nice talking to him, especially since there was no lunch rush and he could take the time. I was grateful when he threw in some extra pico and a few extra cups.

While waiting for my food and filling one of my prized cups, I walked by a young lady who was eating lunch by herself and reading a book. I glanced closer and realized I had that same book. It was the Life Application Study Bible and she had all sorts of highlights, notes, post-it tags, and scribbles. When she looked up at me, I commented that I had the same book. She smiled and made a nice comment. I replied that hers had gotten lots of use and was very colorful — something to be proud of. She smiled again and I left her to her food — physical and spiritual. We were quiet the rest of the meal because she was three tables over but as she left she walked by and said “Be blessed” which I returned to her. I quietly said a prayer of blessing for her and that the rest of her week went well.

That last observation brings me to a “Sign From God” that I saw a long time ago. It said something like (I am paraphrasing here):
“The condition of someone’s Bible tends to have an inverse correlation with the condition of their life.”

I’ll end with the beautiful sunset that greeted me as I headed to my hotel after dinner. Apologies for the blurriness.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Wow! Sunrise…..

This morning’s sunrise was a perfect timing mix of my departure from home and the bright orange ball’s breaking of the horizon. It not only caused me to verbally respond “Wow!” but also to turn around the car, turn off my podcast, get my phone ready, and snap several pictures of a scene I drive by every day. It was truly a beautiful way to start the day.

Kentucky sunrise

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net

Picture-less sunset…..

I usually post pictures of our beautiful KY sunsets but tonight we ARE the sunset. A weird combination of sunset and very low hanging cloud cover have tinged the entire landscape first in yellow then gold then red and now violet. The kids were even asking what’s going on.

…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net