Hello and Good-bye

In our four plus years of running our B and B, we have never had an experience like this. A couple of days ago, we received a call from the BKV, next door. The BKV is the company that runs the whole of the transport system in the city. They had some people there who were looking for us, but could not find us. When I had them on the phone, the man said they had a booking with us for Saturday, but did not want to wander looking for us, so decided to ‘check us’ out ahead of time, but they could not find us.

I gave them specific directions, including the bell to ring. The BKV employee came back on the phone, I gave them to her also and she offered to walk them next door. We are within spitting distance.

They arrived, I told them over the intercom that the door has no sound, but to just push it open. Then, I explained, take the elevator to the fourth floor and I would meet them.

I listened for the elevator, but did not hear, but went out to meet them and found they were climbing the stairs huffing and puffing. Being they were an older couple, I quickly, mentally reviewed my CPR skills. Thankfully, I did not have to depend on memory.

The man greeted me with an angry recourse of not being able to find us after they walked back and forth past the building. Let me say, which I did not to them, the building is clearly marked with a building number unlike many in the city. It is difficult to miss if you are looking. The man’s stream of complaints were that once they did find the building, they had no idea which buzzer to press. I cautiously stated that not only is the information on our website in multiple places, but I am compulsive about putting the information on e-mails confirming a reservation and all subsequent e-mails that transpire thereafter. The wife sheepishly confessed she never did print any of them out.

When I asked why they did not take the elevator, thinking a fear of such apparatus, they shocked me with the statement that they could not find it. How does one miss passing a large shaft in the middle of the stairwell? Okay, perhaps you by-pass the door on the first little landing that is three steps from the foyer level, but once you have climbed the first flight of stairs with the open wire cage to your left, surely you must know there is an elevator there. My fellow Americans, you can really be stupid and cause me embarrassment in calling myself an American. It is intelligence like this that causes great fear for the upcoming elections.

They finally get into the apartment; we offer them tea and they accept. I could tell immediately, I did not like the husband. He reminded me of a retired Marine Captain, sitting there smug and condescening, though he could not find an elevator in front of his nose. We were pleasant and jovial and just the day before, we had guests return to say hello and spend an hour with us before taking off, because they said they felt like our extended family. If so, this couple here were the dreaded in-laws like the move Meet the In-laws. The husband made me feel like I was in Guantanmo and he was cross examing me. They were staying at the Marriott currently since his company was footing the bill, but once they had to reach into their own pockets, they wanted something lower on the financial food chain.

“So, our son and his new bride are coming tomorrow. We want them to have the best time since they were just married. What do you suggest they do?”

My first thought was to respond that I needed to get my crystal ball out, but instead I asked what their interests were? From the look on his face, you would have thought I had said your son married a transsexual and they adopted a baby from Somalia. In reality, it seemed that he had never been introduced to his son and had no clue what his son enjoyed other than women.

As difficult as it was, we made the best of a bad situation. The wife asked to use the bathroom, but I knew it was an opportunity to snoop around. It was so transparent. Ron offered to show her the rooms, since they booked both. When she returned, she was gracious, they stayed and talked for another thirty minutes or more and then left.

Though we were dreading it, they were due this afternoon and all was ready for them. We had gone breakfast item shopping; the fridge was stocked. At 11:00 am today, the day they were due to arrive, the phone rings. It is the wife. She is calling to cancel the reservation. After thinking about it, the son and new wife will be honeymooning and since there is no a/c, they may be too hot. There is no a/c in any hotel under four stars and not all of them have it. The only sure bet is five stars and a fat nightly charge. She offered to give us some money for the late cancellation, which I should have accepted, but honestly, I was so flabberghasted, I said no. Really, I wanted her to feel guilty and not feel like she bought it off with money, but anyone who cannot find an elevator will not have the capacity to think beyond tomorrow.

The reality in my own mind is that the husband did not feel comfortable with us, the wife found us and made the plans without an ounce of his input, which he probably did not offer, and then brow beat her for making a mistake in his judgment. She was the sacraficial lamb having to make the call to cancel. I have been mentally torn about this. Anger over the rudeness of a last minute cancellation when they were here 2 days ago, was the utmost viable emotion I was feeling. As I had told her, we denied many bookings that overlapped their time here and could have rebooked the room. GUILT, GUILT, or at least a feeble attempt. It was not the money as much as the principle of not telling us sooner, but waiting until that morning. I feel judged and took it personally, though honestly, I did not feel comfortable with them anyway.

I can honestly say that in our years, we have been fortunate to have guests who we truly enjoyed. Some we have had more interaction with than others, but that is their choice; it is their vacation. However, we have never received more than outstanding complements on our home and hospitatlity. We received dozens and dozens of e-mails from former guests just giving us updates on their lives and wanting to stay in touch. The husband and wife that returned to say hello were here for four days before going to a Habitat for Humanity project for two weeks and returned to share their experiences.

All in all, I should be thankful this couple and their son did not stay. It may have ruined a long streak of good luck and happy memories. I do hope that where they finally chose to stay, they were able to find the elevator.