Friday, May 20, 2011
Fourteen months ago, I posted a blog entry here on The Killzone, in which I described a day of, shall we say, intestinal distress while in Islip, NY. In that post, I wrote something kind of snarky about the Hilton Garden Inn where I was staying. Specifically, I talked about my dismay that after hours of overnight dehydration, I couldn't order room service to have that bland meal one needs after such an illness.
Among the comments generated by that post was this one: "My name is Adrian Kurre and I am the head of the Hilton Garden Inn brand. I read your post on your stay at the HGI Islip. I'm disappointed on a couple of levels. First that you became ill and could not make your presentation and second that we could not get a meal to you at lunch time when you were still feeling less than perfect. I know that you are not blaming the HGI for your illnes, but I sure wish we could have helped you feel better. If you'd like to email me at adrian.kurre at hilton dot com I'd love to hear more about your stay and what we could have done to make it better."
I thought (and still think) that that was the coolest thing in the world. I wrote to Adrian to tell him so. Here's a guy who no doubt has a bazillion things on his plate, and he took the time not only to stand up for his brand, but to reach out to a customer to show that he cares. In an era when true customer service is hard to find, I really was very impressed. So impressed, in fact, that wherever possible, I've become something of a Hilton purist in my travels.
It turns out that my effusive email arrived in Adrian's box on a day when he needed to hear good things, and thus began a year-long correspondence through which I learned, among other things, that he'd become a fan of my work (how can you not love a man with such fine taste?). As a gesture of thanks I asked and received permission to set a pivotal scene in Threat Warning at the Hilton Garden Inn in Arlington, Virginia. (I promised Adrian that Jonathan and his team wouldn't make a mess while they were there.) I think stuff like this is very, very cool. Fiction is rife with random events connecting to cause an unexpected outcome, and I'm always thrilled when happy randomness affects me.
There's actually a coda to this story that I'll share when the time is appropriate, but for now, I just want to praise kindness, caring and serendipity. You never know when the smallest gesture can make a big difference.
By the way, here it is for the record: Even though the restaurant was closed at lunchtime at the HGI in Islip, someone from the staff would have gone out and picked up food for me if I'd asked. It's that kind of place. I like those kinds of places.