One cold rainy night about a hundred years ago, a couple arrived at a hotel in the US city of Philadelphia and asked for a room. It was late and the couple were exhausted from travelling all day.
Unfortunately, there was a conference in the town and all the rooms in the hotel were occupied. As the faces of the couple dropped and they turned to leave, the friendly hotel manager called them back.
“I tell you what, you can stay in my room for the night,” he smiled.
When the couple asked where the manager would sleep if he gave them his room, he replied, “I’ll be just fine.”
So he gave his room to the couple while he himself snuggled up in a corner of the hotel for the night.
When the morning came the couple came to check out. However, the manager refused to take any payment from them.
Touched by their experience, the husband said to the manager, “A fine, honest man like you shouldn’t be managing a small hotel. You should be the manager of the best hotel in the world.”
The manager smiled at the compliment and waved the couple goodbye.
Three years went by.
One morning the manager received an envelope in the post. In it was a letter and a return rail ticket to New York City. The letter was from the husband of the couple who stayed in the manager’s room that night.
The husband had written to invite the manager to his city because he wanted to speak to him about a matter. When the manager arrived in New York he was met by the husband.
The husband took him to an expensive part of Manhattan where there stood a towering 47-storey high brand new hotel building.
“This is my hotel. I built it for you after I stayed in your room that night. I would like you to be its manager.”
It turned out that the husband of the couple was actually a very wealthy businessman. His name was William Waldorf Astor, the owner of the New York’s famous Waldorf Astoria luxury hotel.
The manager accepted the offer. His name was George Boldt and he managed the Waldorf Astoria hotel for many years, becoming wealthy and famous in his own right, until he retired.
There are several variations of this story but the essential facts of it are true. Had George Boldt not given his own room to that couple that night, he would not have become the manager of what was at the time the world’s largest and most luxurious hotel.
I remembered this story when a friend told me something that happened to him when he visited Morocco from Britain on holiday in the summer of 2007.
Together with another friend he was travelling from the central city of Marrakesh to the southern city of Zagora, a gruelling 20-hour long road trip by public bus.
The bus was full to the brim, the roof rack was overflowing with suitcases and bags. Infront of the two young backpackers was an elderly Moroccan woman.
She was travelling with a few members of her family whose seats were distributed around the bus. Now there was a bolt loose in her seat which made it rickety and uncomfortable.
With hand gestures, the two backpackers signalled to the elderly woman to swap seats with them so that she did not have to sit on the uncomfortable seats. She obliged and smiled at them as she uttered some words in Arabic that the men didn’t understand.
A little while later, when the woman’s son came to her from the back of the bus, she told him what the two backpackers had done. He spoke English and he thanked them profusely for their gesture of kindness to his mother.
When the bus finally reached its destination, the elderly woman’s son asked the two backpackers where they were going to stay in Zagora.
It transpired that they were going to try and find a cheap hotel for their three nights in Zagora.
“Why don’t you stay with us?” the son insisted. “You are both guests to our country, travellers and you showed kindness to my mother so I would like to thank you.”
The two backpackers eventually obliged and went with the son. He took them to a huge resort, complete with a swimming pool, large rooms and ornate architecture.
“My family owns this resort,” the son told them. “We would like you to stay here as our guests.”
For the next three nights, the backpackers stayed in that resort, having chef-cooked meals brought to them day and night. The son arranged an excursion for the two backpackers to the Sahara Desert where they travelled by camel and stayed overnight in a bedouin tent under the stars.
At the end of their stay, the son refused to take a penny from them as he dropped them to the bus station for their trip home.
The principle of good being repaid with good is as old as Creation. It says in the Quran:
“Is the reward for good anything but good?” [55:60]
And it says in The Bible:
“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” [Hebrews 13:16]
So we should never neglect these random acts of kindness to others because though they may be small in our eyes, they may be great in the sight of God.
My story and why I blog can be read here.
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