This I Believe

Megan - Jacksonville, Florida
Entered on April 20, 2007

33 Cents

Standing behind a marble counter, I help travelers, businessmen and women, and families during their visits in the hotel where I work. I have been a front desk associate for almost a year now, and I am responsible for the needs of eighty-three guests and their families each night. Their needs stress me most of the time because I have to find a way to appease them, and if I can’t satisfy them, I feel as though I have failed to do my job.

When I’m not plunging toilets, delivering bath towels, or answering questions on the phone, it seems the most interesting things occur. The lobby becomes completely silent, to the point where I can hear my own breathing, and then a guest will come to the front desk. I know something is wrong by the way they walk, heavy-footed, huffing, shoulders tense, and eyes fixed. One of those guests changed my beliefs about myself.

The elderly woman mumbles under her breath, pushing her glasses up on her nose. She stops at the desk, slaps her hand on the counter.

“Is there a problem?”

“She stole my money.”

“Who?” I peer at the lobby to find the possible suspect. There is nobody there.

“The housekeeper. I laid the money on the dresser, and it’s…it’s gone. It’s been sitting there for the last two days, and now she decides to take it.” Her face frowns as if she has lost everything she owns in the world.

“She may have mistaken it as a tip.” From the look on her face, I gather that she did not like what I had to say.

“How much money is missing?” My heart ba-bums like a street performer banging on a plastic bucket, and I clam up inside. I am afraid of what she might say.

“I had two dimes, two nickels, and three pennies sitting on the dresser.”

“33 cents?” I pull the drawer open and start collecting change to repay the woman.

“Here is 33 cents.” I say, gently setting the change on the counter for her. All of her facial muscles squeeze together like a raisin.

“No. I don’t want the money.”

I hear a fierce voice inside my head, What is it that you want? I am speechless because I don’t know what she wants, and she does not tell me what she wants. And when she leaves, there is nothing I can do to help her. I laughed later at the sheer pettiness of her visit. However, from that day, I have come to a general belief that I am not superwoman. Even though I want to help everyone, I am a limited being, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot please everyone.