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“There will be no charge for anything. We are happy to help.” Huh?

29 Nov

Every once and a while someone does something really kind to restore my… OK I can’t say the words. I have very little faith in “humanity” with the garbage going on in Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, you get the picture.

Every great now and again someone does something truly compassionate and professional and it deserves mention. Not just by way of thanks, but due to the aforementioned countries and the miserable self serving nature of so many of our species. We owe it to each other to be mindful of the compassion that does exist and give that some press as well.

This Thanksgiving we had the kids over for a fine pig-out; ate till we hurt and then had desert – the usual. Next morning we were in our little enviro-Prius headed up to the wine country. I always bring my very new and very expensive camera with me when we go to the wine country. It was raining though, so I decided to pop that in the hotel safe and just shoot with my iPhone to keep my “Ferrari” dry.

Days pass, wine flows, spa treatments and gastronomic delights are had, and finally the hotel bill is paid. On the way out of Sonoma we stop for a breakfast of Jazz and eggs only to find that Guy Fierri had beaten us to the punch. Triple D indeed is everywhere in the Sonoma area.

Blissfully deserted roads lead us past the resplendently sunlit SF Marina all the way to our little Woodside turnoff. The car is parked, I run (bags in hand) to the door with a comfort stop in mind. The wifes bag goes on the bed, my bag goes on the chest in the office next to – oh shite – the empty camera case. Remember the part where I said I put the camera in the hotel safe?

Comfort stop quickly forgotten I yell out the window for the number of the Lodge we stayed at, half in terror that I’m going to get a “what camera?” response. I fear that I’ve travelled too often and become somewhat jaded. There is some solace in the fact that the staff had seemed genuinely nice in general, particularly the girls in the spa; not the snooty “Bitchy Barbie’s” one can often encounter in such places.

Instead the response I get from the desk of the Renaissance Lodge in Sonoma http://www.thelodgeatsonoma.com/ was “we’ll send someone right up to check on that for you.” In the interim the call is immediately connected to the Concierge, Cindy Riggs, who listens to the situation and agrees to contact FedEx to arrange the return of my abandoned baby. Cindy then offers to call me back with details when available and takes my number.

Still slightly trembling, half expecting the “what camera?” I wait. Thanksgiving in Sonoma is the busiest weekend of the year. Thoughts are running rampant with visions of crowds still checking out demanding her time, housekeeping staff grinning sleazily as they slip my “baby” in with the soiled sheets for a quick trip to the laundry room where, yes, the parked pick-up truck is then loaded with a mysteriously wadded bed sheet… oh the agony of the human mind. Then, barely a half hour later…

the phone rings, it is Cindy. “Mr. Ulrich we have located your camera and given it to housekeeping…” AHAA just as I feared – the swine “and they will be making the arrangements to have it shipped to your home.” Oh. This feels better. “I’ll call you with the details.”

Within another half hour she calls with the details. I ask for her address to send her a little “thank you” and she declines.

I ask her what the shipping charges will be and am pleasantly shocked to find that there will be none. Same question regarding having the thing boxed up, insured, etc. “Mr. Ulrich, there will be no charge for anything, we are happy to help.” When is the last time you have heard that? There are no words that could make a 30 year road warrior (me) and a 25 year corporate travel manager (my wife) any happier.

The FedEx tracking number, address confirmation, and shipping details arrive minutes later via email. Along with them arrives an official statement from The Renaissance Lodge at Sonoma thanking us for our visit, and for allowing them to be of service.

In this era of hidden costs and baggage charges it’s nice to see that the art of actually caring for people and showing honest compassion to a weary traveler is not dead. It lives in Sonoma.

Thank you Cindy.

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