I don’t know what I was thinking when I made the reservation for that Bed & Breakfast. I guess I thought it would be romantic and quaint, and the fact that it would likely be the only weekend of the year that my husband and I wouldn’t have the kids probably factored into my decision. So we said goodbye to the national motel chain (where kids eat free and you’d better have an appointment with your chiropractor scheduled the following week) and hello to a charming, historic B&B.
As my husband rang the inn’s front doorbell, I plopped down into a chaise lounge on the massive, Victorian-era front porch and enjoyed the warm breeze coming off the bay.
The innkeeper, a precious woman not quite five feet tall, quickly appeared donning a blue cook’s apron and a wide, friendly grin.
“I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to ring the bell, uh, I mean the door was locked and, uh, are you open yet?” my poor husband rambled … clueing the innkeeper into our lack of B&B experience.
“You must be Steve,” the woman said with a smirk. “Where Suzanne?”
“I’m right here,” I managed to say (which was difficult because the cushions on the chaise lounge had almost swallowed me whole). And to be honest, I was a little thrown that she knew exactly who we were BEFORE we flashed our credit card. I mean, what ELSE did she know?!
Maybe this is a good time to explain something … my husband and I are weird. You might even call us hermits. On the weekends, we draw the blinds and hunker down, just our two young boys and us. We rarely go out with other couples and NEVER go on vacation with other families. We’ve heard about people who do that, but can’t for the life of us figure out why.
Now don’t get me wrong … we LOVE a good party and I don’t have any plans to author an anti-social manifesto as of yet. But as life seems to get busier and busier, when we ARE able to carve out a little “alone” time we’re terribly territorial with it.
So that’s why we were a bit wide-eyed when the innkeeper gave us a tour of the old house as if we were long lost friends. It never crossed our minds that staying at a B&B would be like staying in someone’s home. But then the innkeeper invited us to the parlor for wine and cheese at 5 p.m. and since we NEVER turn down wine and cheese, when the clock rang five … we headed downstairs.
And after spending the hour sipping wine, nibbling on a variety of cheeses the innkeeper had laid out for us, and exchanging stories with the two other couples staying at the inn, we finally figured this out: people who stay at B&Bs actually LIKE meeting new people! It’s part of the experience. In fact, I think it might be one of the reasons some choose this type of lodging over less personable hotels.
This was quite an epiphany for me. But after thinking about it more (and as cocktail hour began to wind down), the excitement that followed my revelation was soon replaced with sheer panic. You see, the town was small and there were only a couple of viable dinner options. Soon I began to worry that somebody would belt out, ““Hey, let’s all eat together!” and then we’d be stuck spending ALL night with people we didn’t know and would probably never see again. Not exactly a dream come true for two self-proclaimed hermits. So, I decided to make a quick getaway.
I quietly stood up and inched my way backwards into the foyer while the other couples continued their conversation. Pretending to look at old pictures hanging on the wall, I stealthily made my way toward the staircase (as my duteous husband followed suit—albeit not quite as stealthily) when one of the women we’d just met looked back and said, “Suzanne … it was nice meeting you. We’ll see you at breakfast?”
I felt like a schmuck. Not only did this woman remember my name, but she went out of her way to let me know that she enjoyed our conversation. And what was I doing? Right … sneaking up the stairs.
But it didn’t end there. Later that night, as my husband and I walked through town after dinner, we passed a lively local watering hole. Somewhere over the music and chatter, I thought I heard someone yell my name. Confused, I looked around and what did I see? The OTHER woman we’d met at cocktail hour. She was sitting on the pub’s patio, having a drink with her husband, and waving at us enthusiastically.
And I haven’t been the same since.
I guess it might be a bit shocking (and maybe even a little sad) that these two women were able to make such an impression on me just by being friendly and remembering my name. Is it because I’ve spent my fair share of time with women who aren’t quite as genuine?
You know the type: women who you’ve met several times before but who just can’t seem to remember having ever laid eyes on you; women who are only interested in speaking to you if you’re standing next to someone they think they should be speaking to; women who look you up and down as you enter the room, making you wonder if you somehow forgot a key article of clothing when you got dressed; women who I’ve decided aren’t worth my time.
But then a stranger remembers your name … and it feels good.
And that’s what kind of woman I want to be.
I want to be the woman who’s enthusiastic about meeting new people, shows a genuine interest in others, and has the ability to make others feel important (and isn’t so quick to sneak upstairs). Because sometimes, the simplest things make the most difference. And even though remembering someone’s name might not seem like a big deal, it says to that person that you think they’re worthy of your time and attention.
And to me, that says a lot.