I ran across this story the other day, and, according to Snopes, it’s true, with some embellishment. I’ll explain after the story:
An old couple come into a hotel at 11:00 on a rainy night and asked for a room. If you were that night clerk, you could say, "It's raining outside, 11:00 at night; you have no reservation. I can't help you. We're filled up."
Instead, the night clerk said, "We don't have any good rooms; they're all gone. But I'll tell you what: I have a room here. It's not much, but I'll have Mary, the night housekeeper, clean it up and put some flowers in there. Wait here a few moments. I'm sure you'll be comfortable for the night. I hate to send you out in this rainy night."
Mary came back and said, "The room is clean."
Then the clerk said, "Now you two can go upstairs, and I'll have some hot tea sent up for you." That's one way to handle your enemy if they make unreasonable interruptions.
The strange thing is that a year and a half later, when the great Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York was built and finished, John Jacob Astor, who was the man who with his wife came to the hotel that night, said, "I want that night clerk to manage my hotel."
Like I said, this story is basically true. Except it wasn’t John Jacob Astor. It was his cousin, William Waldorf Astor. And the hotel they stayed in was actually one of the finest hotels in Philadelphia. And it wasn’t the night clerk. It was the manager of the hotel who had a suite that he could give to the couple.
George C. Boldt, had immigrated to America and worked his way up through the ranks of hotel management starting as a dishwasher. He would go on to be very wealthy himself—no doubt, because he was able to deal graciously with interruptions.
This Sunday we’re beginning our Christmas series for 2012. I’m calling it “Surprise!” It will be about some of the ways that Jesus’ birth is a surprise to those who witness it, starting with Joseph and Mary. Both of them have their lives interrupted by Jesus’ arrival. And the world is a different place because of it.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit.
(1 Thessalonians 5)