Betting on Cally

Flying from East to West is the closest I’ll ever get to experiencing magic. I never have enough time to do everything I want to do, so when I can jump on a plane at 7:30pm in Chicago and be asleep in my hotel in Phoenix by 10:30pm it’s like I’m Hermione Granger with a time turner. I focus on the magic trick and ignore my body, no matter how exhausted I am from reality. Look at the clock, woman, it’s only 10:30pm.

So, when I checked into my hotel room and noticed the short handwritten note from my housekeeper, I didn’t think too much of it. I went to bed and got up and went to work. Normal day, normal stuff.

But, when I got back to my room after work that day I noticed there was a new note. It was from the same person, but longer. More insistent that if there was anything I needed just to let her know. Her name was Cally and she signed it with a smiley face. There was something so appealing about it that I had to respond, jotting a quick note at the bottom of the page. I posted a picture of the note and my response on my personal social media page — I said that although it was possible that writing notes like that was a management mandate, I didn’t think that was driving Cally. There was something about her sincerity that came through her words and that fun smiley face.

I posted that I was betting on Cally. That it was a “betting on Cally” kind of day.

Throughout the day, I thought about Cally. My brother got a job cleaning hotel rooms one summer and it was such a grueling job he quit after a day. I know it is hard work and I found myself thinking about the character of a woman who would take the time out of that job to hand write a note. I wondered if my brief comment would elicit a response. And then I worried about something I hadn’t considered: what if today was her day off?

I shouldn’t have worried. I came back that night to a new note. She thanked me (two exclaimation points), told me she was happy I was comfortable and to have a super stay. She signed it with her signature smiley face.

The next morning, I left Cally a longer note. I had decided to stay in the hotel one more night instead of moving closer to the airport and I asked, jokingly, if she would make sure they didn’t throw out my stuff. When I got back that night they had deactivated my room key, but I had all the faith in the world in Cally. After getting my key re-activated I opened my door and walked to the bedside table. There it was:

Hi… I want to thank you for writing back to me! I want my guest to feel welcomed and enjoy staying with us when away from home. I wouldn’t let them throw away your belongings. Glad to see you stayed another night. Thanks again!

It wasn’t an easy week, I worked too many hours and had some hard conversations. I hadn’t been clear about how long I would be gone and when we talked my husband was disappointed he wouldn’t see me until after work on Friday. I lost a blog post because of connectivity. Nothing crazy, but there were a few moments when I was struggling with keeping everything in perspective and staying focused on what I could do instead of dwelling on what I couldn’t. And the truth is that those notes, brief and unremarkable perhaps, helped. They made me smile and cheered me on. Cally reminded me I wasn’t alone.

I woke up today at 3:00am to head back to the airport. I was tired and rushing but I took a moment to write one more note to Cally. I thanked her for making it easier for a working mom to be away from her family. I did something I’ve never done — I told her I write a blog and that I would likely reflect on her kindness in a post. I gave her the website. It’s anyone’s guess whether she will look it up and if she does whether she will feel as appreciative reading these words as I am writing them.

But I’m betting on Cally. It’s a “betting on Cally” kind of day.