Hospitality Has its Rewards
“Can I visit you in May and bring a friend?” our Chinese daughter Weixuan asked in a text message.
Sarah’s junior year, Weixuan lived with us when she attended the school I worked at as part of their foreign exchange program. That year we also opened our home to Jeanne, a young lady from France. I loved listening to the three girls study math together—it sounded like an exchange at the United Nations.
In the years since her graduation, Weixuan has returned to visit many times on her breaks from her undergraduate and graduate studies in the United States. This time, she wanted to take her friend to the Grand Canyon and then visit Antelope Canyon in the Navajo Nation.
“Absolutely!” I texted back. “Would you guys like to go camping?” I wanted to take Beauty out one more time before actually living in her for an entire summer.
“Yes!” she replied. “I’ll make arrangements for touring Antelope Canyon.”
The weekend and the girls finally arrived, and we set off on our adventure. The first night we spent near the Grand Canyon, and the girls learned how to set up a tent and blow up air mattresses. Our second night we ended up in the parking lot of Wal Mart in Page, AZ since none of the nearby campgrounds had vacancies.
Beauty’s dining area turns into a double bed, so the girls slept inside with us. We hiked out to Horseshoe Bend for the sunset, and the girls got up before dawn to return for sunrise photos with me.
After breakfast we hooked up the trailer and went exploring before our slot canyon tour. We hiked across the bridge that crosses the Colorado River next to the Glen Canyon Dam, and ended up going into the visitor’s center to sign up for a dam tour later that afternoon.
Surprised by Forty Foreigners
We parked our trailer in the back parking lot of the visitor’s center after touring Antelope Canyon. Weixuan, Pedro, and Jo busied themselves setting up a place to eat in the shade of Beauty’s awning whilst I pulled together everything we’d need to prepare hot dogs at the outside kitchen.
I heard excited chattering as I dug through the freezer for the cookie dough and turned on the oven. Finally, I loaded my arms with the hot dogs, buns, condiments and chips and stepped out of Beauty.
Forty foreign tourists exclaimed as one, “Ah!” as they watched me take the final step down and set the food on the table Pedro and the girls had set up. Not knowing what to do, I smiled and waved. A few of them waved back before their tour bus pulled up and they got on and left.
“Japanese tourists,” Weixuan stated. “I think they liked your trailer.”
Ten minutes after we sat down to eat, another group of tourists gathered at the overlook next to our parking space. When the first ones turned to have their friends take their photos with the dam in the background, they started exclaiming and pointing. At us. Not the river or the dam.
“Chinese tourists,” Weixuan said. “They’re asking each other if it would be ok to ask us if they could see inside the trailer.”
By this time, 15 or 20 people had congregated close to our trailer. I looked at Pedro and shrugged and then turned to Weixuan. “Tell them it’s ok to come over and look inside.”
Their looks of astonishment that one of our group spoke their language quickly turned to joy when they realized that they could actually step inside the trailer. The first brave ones came to the trailer door and I motioned them up the steps.
“You’ll be famous in China!”
“Go ahead,” I urged. “You may look around inside.”
They held up their cameras and iPhones with a questioning look on their faces.
I nodded. “Yes, you may take photos.” I smiled as they pointed and exclaimed and snapped photos of the interior. Weixuan poked her head inside to see if anyone needed translation.
“They want to know if they can take their photo with you,” she said.
I laughed. I hate having my photo taken.
A Chinese gentleman assured me, “We take your photo and you’ll be famous in China!”
For the next thirty minutes I posed with the forty or so people from the tour group inside the trailer. Some of them spoke a little English, and I discovered that they came from all over China. Some had retired from business or teaching, and others worked full time and had come on vacation.
Connie, their tour guide, invited us to China to stay at her hotel. She expressed such gratitude that we had opened our home to let her countrymen peep inside. They only had four days left in their three-week tour, and their curiosity about trailers and RVs had grown.
When they returned to their bus and drove away, we settled back down to eat our interrupted meal, still bemused by the incident.
Hospitality Costs Nothing
Fortunately, Pedro had made the bed that morning, and we had put things away in order to travel. I often fail to feel hospitable when I think my house needs cleaning. But really, people don’t notice a little dirt or a little disorder. They DO notice smiles, a gracious tone of voice and the way you make them feel.People don't notice a little dirt and disorder. They do notice a gracious attitude. #hospitality… Click To Tweet
According to Weixuan and Connie the tour director, our act of hospitality had provided the high point of a tour across the United States for 40 curious tourists. This blew my mind. Inviting strangers into our trailer cost us nothing. Smiling and posing may have cost my pride a little, but the return on the investment surpassed the pain.
Sure, I’ll probably never really be famous in China. But learning lessons in hospitality taught me something about living in Beauty.
Beauty Tip #4: The rewards of hospitality outweigh the effort it takes to act in a welcoming manner.
Q4U: What scares you the most about hospitality?