Yes, Good Customer Service Exists

So, Lee and I are headed to our yearly South Carolina condo stay. We left after work yesterday to get a few hours in, and stopped at the same Hampton Inn we stayed in last year.

It has beautiful plants around it.

When we got there, one front desk person was on the phone. She had obviously been on the phone a long time, helping someone with a complex reservation. I was so impressed at her kindness and support for the person on the phone.

Snappy!

Meanwhile, I discovered I’d made my reservation for the wrong day. The young goth guy helping me was just great about fixing the error, which was made harder by the fact that I’d used points to make the reservation. He, too, was cheerful, friendly, and patient. It made me feel so much better.

Feeling rosy

Then, we realized a dude had been waiting behind us a long time. The phone call finally ended, and the front desk woman started to help us, but we said to help that guy. He was SO nice about having to wait, saying he’d had the same problem. We all ended up laughing and talking. What could have been a group of annoyed people ended up being uplifting.

They had dewberries, too.

Once we deposited our stuff, we headed over to the pizza place we ate at last year, where we had loved the calzones. Lee suggested we sit outside to eat. Our server ended up being the manager.

We had fun!

Well, the manager, named Leigh or Lee, made our meal a true joy. We had such fun talking with her about her life, adventures in the hospitality industry, and what it’s like to be the child of a very outgoing father (she and I are). The calzones with Cajun seasoning were great, too.

There are shrimp in there.

At the end of the meal, Leigh/Lee told us she’d been bummed that she had to come in to work, but that we’d made her evening great.

I guess I was happy, since I made this weird Snapchat.

I’m so glad we’d been able to meet and enjoy conversation. It was the end of the evening, so the crowd had thinned. She was able to do all her work AND meet new people. We got great food and laughed at all her stories.

I hope our trip continues to feature kindness, good service, and patience. Not being so stressful about COVID helps, for sure.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside (Or, weird hotels I have known)

That’s right, blog readers, I am in yet another hotel. I had to be in Austin today for a couple of appointments, and I didn’t want to miss a whole lot of work driving to Austin and back from the ranch. The original plan was to stay at a friend’s house, but their guest room was full of boxes, and my back (and pelvic area) can’t take even a pretty and spacious couch right now. So, I booked two nights in the hotel closest to the Bobcat neighborhood.

This was quite modern in the 1990s.

I’ve looked at this hotel for what, 25 years now, but hadn’t been in it until last night. It’s an older one that has obviously seen lots and lots of conferences and workshops, but thanks to COVID has a lot of empty space. I got the corner room on the top floor, facing the courtyard, which gives me an interesting view of scaffolding.

View from my room

I thought it would be quieter, but the bartender, a fun Cantonese woman, assured me that sound travels up and echoes around. Sure enough, it does. But there are not many people around, so it’s okay. She said a month or two ago there was a film crew in the hotel, and it got VERY loud. Yes, I had myself an Old Fashioned at the bar last night. There was only one creepy person there. I ended up with two drinks, because the bartender didn’t like how the first one came out. Fine with me.

Trusses, up close and personal.

I had dinner last night with Anita at a teeny-tiny Japanese restaurant at the Arboretum, which brought back fond memories of when I first moved to Austin and the kids’ dad worked in the office building next to the shopping center. We spent a LOT of time at the bookstore and Thundercloud Subs. Hey, that’s where the Japanese restaurant is now.

We took a walk around the shops after dinner, and they were all closed except this really cool space full of things by local Austin artists. I wanted one of everything, but just got Anita a candle holder made out of tiny skulls. The place is called ArtUs Co Shop, and will only be open through the holidays, sigh. I knew I shouldn’t have put off checking the place out. If you are in Austin and need to buy gifts, go there. It’s like the Armadillo Bazaar only less crowded.

Anyway, about this cold. Wow is this hotel quirky. The staff are GREAT, though. But the hallway to my room is colder than it was in Colorado, and my room has stayed a brisk 67 degrees since I got here. It’s fine at night, since there are my beloved Hilton linens and pillows to keep my cozy, but while I have been trying to work, I’ve turned into an ice cube.

Brr.

I told them at the front desk, and they brought me a warm blanket (just as nice as the warm cookie upon check in). But, no one has come to work on the heat issue.

I do love the down comforters on these Hilton beds.

I went to get coffee to warm up, and the front desk clerk said to get nice fresh coffee upstairs. The server rolled her eyes and said they ALWAYS send people up there for coffee without pointing out that it costs $3. I got mine free because I had been downstairs earlier for a quirky but delicious breakfast. They sort of have a restaurant at the hotel, but not really. I did like the breakfast potatoes a lot, even though I think they made me sick. I ate along with an assortment of bald business dudes and younger couples whose male members wore gimme caps. Every single male under 40 had one on.

If I’m frozen to this desk, Anita knows where I am.

I think I like cold and quirky hotels, to be honest. They have character, like Valdoro Lodge in Colorado did. I can overlook the ill-fitting hallway carpet and random buzzing noises as well as the outlets that will not charge my phone. I have peace and quiet, which means I got so much work done already today that my boss is probably mentally telling me to stop. I did stop to eat a Kind bar and blog during “lunch hour.”

I look forward to seeing my old neighbors tonight, so I hope to have more to report tomorrow. At the ranch, the horses all got out of the pasture, but Lee says they are fine. Did I forget to lock a gate? I wouldn’t put it past me! And in final ranch news, I am told the pool will get worked on again Friday or Monday. As Lee’s dad would have said, “We’ll see.”

Bye-Bye Bobcat

Dateline: Austin. Today was sorta hard in a few ways. For one, I worked on so many things that my head was spinning, plus I was trying to get packed for my next condo stay. Because of that, today’s brief visit with Anita was my last time in Bobcat when I own it.

We’re looking out at the sunset, as the sun goes down on our time in Austin.

And, whoa, it was windy even for out at the ranch! Gusts were well over 40 miles per hour. It was actually hard to walk, which helped me reach my exercise goal. That’s rare. Things were banging around the chickens and the horses, so I worked on shutting them up.

I need my beauty sleep!

I got everything done in time, including horse and donkey hugs. Apache got his feet trimmed, so there was bonding time for all.

I took a picture to gaze at.

Eventually, the relatives returned from their duties at the Hermits Rest Home, as I secretly dubbed the farm in Yorktown. After watching the dogs frolic in the wind and staring at the pool, Lee and I headed to Austin with my luggage. As Lee shared how thrilled he was to never go over the speed bumps again, I got all sad about selling my house.

Maybe it’s homely outside, but it was a refuge.

Lee reminded me that we plan to come back each month for book club, so it’s not like I’ve left forever. But, I’ll really miss this haven of peace and quiet.

Anita painted the deck!!! What a gal.

I was so sad that I really couldn’t hang around long. I’ll just call Anita Saturday and really talk about her house, her job, and plans. Good thing she’s such a good friend.

My buddy

So, we headed over to the always unique Austin Airport Hilton, the one that used to be an Air Force command center.

View from our room.

They recently redecorated, and it’s really nice now. It was nice of Lee to join me. We’re enjoying some local-ish bourbon and watching some football. I’m glad we get to spend the evening together peacefully.

Quite nice.

I’m looking forward to my trip to Colorado tomorrow. I’ll get to hang out with some old friends, see some snow, and do my annual solo retreat. Of course, I’ll be working, since contractors get no vacation! But I’ll have plenty of afternoon and evening time, thanks to 6 am meetings starting my day off long before sunrise!

It will be fine. I love working in new places. I’m not so worried about getting sick, with all my vaccinations, too. It’s getting better, a bit. Maybe. Knock on wood.

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