Wednesday, March 31, 2010

THE CHOCOLATE CHIP CAPER


For two years I’ve been consistent about blogging in “A Words Worth,” but the last two weeks I’ve been away from my desk, as editors of newspapers often announce when they go on the road. I’ve been on two mercy missions: 1) a return trip to New Iberia for my oldest daughter’s surgery, and 2) a quick trip circling back to Florida where my friend Vickie’s mother, 90, has been ill. Actually, the trips afforded another opportunity to experience civility in action, which I had lamented about being a lost art in two former blogs. Again, the happening occurred in Mississippi, a state that I have concluded is the birthplace of authentic courtesy.

I blogged about an act of civility that occurred in a tire company in Meridian Mississippi a few weeks ago when we were en route to Tennessee. This time we were en route to Louisiana. We had stopped for the night at a Hampton Inn in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, and following dinner I went into the lobby to claim a chocolate chip cookie that is always available in the lobby in the early evening. To my consternation, the cookie jar had been emptied. As I turned to leave, the manager appeared at my elbow, shook my hand, and asked if he could assist me. “I always get a chocolate chip cookie at the Hampton,” I said to him. “Someone claimed the last one,” he said as I walked toward the lobby door. “But if you’ll give us fifteen minutes, I’ll have someone deliver a fresh batch to your room.  I waited and waited and finally said some choice words aloud about people who don’t deliver what they promise, yada, yada…(incivility in action!)

The following morning at breakfast, the manager came over to my table and sat down. “How were the cookies?” he asked.

“What cookies,” I asked. His face fell. “You didn’t get them?”  I could tell he was disturbed.

“No, but I didn’t need them,” I said. “I need to lose weight.”

“But you wanted them,” he exclaimed. He began to apologize and suddenly remembered that when they were looking through room numbers to find my room, another Moore was listed as a guest. I laughed. “So someone else was surprised with a bag of cookies,” I said. The manager laughed with me and apologized again for the mistake. He spent ten minutes at my table, and we enjoyed good exchange about Hattiesburg where my mother once attended Mississippi Women’s College before the college became defunct.

As I walked toward my room, I heard someone call my name, and one of the breakfast service women ran up to me. “You need to wait fifteen minutes before you leave,” she said. We have something at the desk for you.” I beamed at her. You guessed it—I picked up eight, freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies on a paper plate, wrapped and ready to go. As I scurried down the sidewalk with my package, the manager opened a side door, stepped out and shook my hand, and wished me well.

My friend with whom I traveled calls this the “Chocolate Cookie Caper” and advised me to blog about this happening to record another act of civility. And, no, I didn’t need those cookies, but they advertised the willingness of the employees at this hotel to serve people well. As I said before, I’ve begun to believe that civility and courtesy are still alive, and they thrive in the heart of the South in old Mississippi.
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