I used to have a business associate who was a liar. A horrible liar. He would lie about anything and everything. Needless to say, this trait did not make him a good business associate.
For example, one time he left very late for a client meeting and told our receptionist to call the client and tell him that he’d had a flat tire on the freeway. The ol’ “flat tire on the freeway” story became standard operating procedure for him, the excuse he used whenever he was running late.
A few months later he was late for another client meeting and demanded that our receptionist make the same call.
“What are the odds,” the client said to the receptionist. “The same thing happened to him a few months ago.”
Lying comes naturally to some people, but it’s very difficult for others. I would like to think I fall into the latter category.
The reason for this little preamble will become apparent soon enough.
I made our Funchal, Madeira hotel reservations in early February. For those of you uninclined to do the math, that’s six and a half months ago.
We didn’t want to stay on the outskirts of the town or up in the hills above the city. We chose our hotel (which shall remain nameless for reasons that shall soon become apparent) because it was right in the heart of Funchal. We made the reservations six and a half months in advance because we wanted to make sure we could stay exactly where we wanted to stay.
So I was quite surprised to receive an email from the hotel reservation manager the day before our arrival. It read:
“Good evening. We inform you that due to a last minute situation regarding an overbooking in our hotel. We have to relocate you to another Hotel for the two first nights. On the 27th August you return to our Hotel. Our transfer will pick you up and bring you to our hotel. If you have any doubt regarding this situation please don´t hesitate in contact us. Thanks for your understanding.”
I immediately Googled the other hotel and found that it was 1.8 miles outside of town.
Well, as you can imagine, I did have some doubt “regarding this situation” and per their suggestion, I did not hesitate to contact them.
In an exchange of emails with the reservation manager, I expressed my considerable displeasure and pointed out that whatever overbooking had occurred, it had occurred long after we made our reservations back in February.
They responded with another email that offered to upgrade us to an even nicer hotel. Another quick trip to Google told me that this hotel was in the hills 1.5 miles above Funchal.
I again expressed my displeasure and told the reservation manager that I wanted to speak to the manager.
The reservation manager asked for my telephone number. A few minutes later my cell phone rang. The reservation manager apologized, but said no rooms were available. Jamie claims I raised my voice, but my recollection is that I remained completely calm. In fact, it was an almost zen-like calmness, if my recollection is to be relied upon.
As the reservation manager continued to insist that we could not stay at the hotel of our choice, I suddenly blurted out, “You must honor our reservations. It is our 25th wedding anniversary and staying at your hotel is the one thing my wife wanted most. That’s why I made the reservations so far in advance.”
This was a blatant lie. 100% balderdash. Our actual anniversary is April 22. We’ve only been married 17 years and we’ve only known each other 22 years. I do not know where this blatant untruth came from. It just spontaneously popped out of my mouth. Unplanned, unpremeditated, unexpected.
Lie or not, it stunned the reservation manager into complete silence. “Let me get back to you in a few minutes,” she finally said.
Well, a few minutes later I received an email telling me that someone else (someone who I’m sure had made their reservations long after we had) would be booted from the hotel and moved to one of those other alternative hotels that had been offered to us. And then, to top it all off, the reservation manager told me that we were being upgraded to a suite and that we would receive a special gift from the hotel upon arrival.
When we arrived, the hotel was everything we had hoped for. The location was ideal. The suite was exquisite. And the free gift was a 60-year old bottle of champagne with which we were to celebrate our special wedding anniversary. In other words, everything was perfect.
There’s just one problem.
Jamie now wants to celebrate our wedding anniversary every April and again every August.