May 4, 2016
About That New Chair
Posted by: TOM WATSON
“It” happens almost every weekend. “It” is the question. “It” usually gets asked by our guests while they are checking in. “It” (the question) is: “So, why did you buy a B&B and become innkeepers?”
Depending on how spirited I feel, I offer up either the “Cliff Notes” version or the full “Moby Dick”. Either version tells pretty much the same story…
- We were dismayed with the collapse of paradise in South Florida…rampant development, over crowding, insane traffic, escalating property taxes, skyrocketing insurance, pollution of the reefs and the everglades, cost of living, escalating crime, etc.,
- We wanted to be closer to our families…mine in the Upstate and Tom’s in the Lowcountry of South Carolina,
- We were tired of it being HOT and sunny all the time,
- I wanted trees with limbs and leaves instead of fronds,
- It was time to own land instead of just a lot,
- Tired of our lives serving the needs of big corporations, we wanted a new challenge
But the ones not on the list are the two we hadn’t anticipated when we set out on this journey: Creating memorable experiences for the strangers who would come to stay in our new home and, at the same time, benefitting from the unique energy and enthusiasm they would bring into our lives. Who would have thought that the joy of engaging with guests would become such a cool reason to be doing what we are doing?
Case in point… It was late on a Sunday and we were still waiting on a couple to check in. They arrived and were enthusiastic. I, on the other hand, was tired and…I admit it…cranky, something I now regret. Once Tom checked them in, I took over (as is our process) to tell them about Asheville before taking them up to their room. As I sat down in the tacky, left over from Florida ugly and beat up leather chair we were using at the desk, I started bitching about it (it being the chair this time). They said wanted to go antiquing so I quickly marked the shops of the Biltmore Antiques District along Swannanoa River Road on a map before escorting them upstairs. That was that and we were all off to bed.
The next day, they left after a delightful breakfast and we did not see them again.
On the second morning and the day of their departure, breakfast was served and pleasantries were exchanged as per usual. The dishes were cleared and a final round of coffee/tea was served. And then, the coolest thing happened.
“We were thinking about you guys yesterday while we were out shopping,” the lady said. “We saw a chair that we thought you would like.” “Chair?” I wondered. “What could she be talking about and what would she know about what we would like”? (I had forgotten my commentary on the leather chair.)
With that, she produced her smart phone and found a photo they took of a chair they thought we might like behind our front desk. I LOVED it. “Tom,” I said, “come in here and look at this.” Which he did. And he LOVED it, too. We immediately asked them where they found it and, later that day, set out to buy it. It now sits behind our front desk.
So what does this chair story have to do with becoming innkeepers? I’ll tell you. That chair will always be a symbol to me of the kindness and generosity of spirit our guests bring to our new venture…they, too, want to see us succeed. And, they want to be a part of it. How cool is that?
It will also serve as a reminder that Tom and I are getting to live our dream…the dream of a new venture in a new place with new surroundings and new friends. We are grateful.
So, now you know about that new chair…