“Sir, hotel rates adjust all the time, we can’t change your rate back to the lower price just because you made a mistake.”
As it turns out, you should not mess around with the room cancellation button on the hotel website only a few days before your scheduled arrival. Lesson learned.
And so an explanation was crafted to help the hotel clerk understand how such an innocent mistake happened. No reasonable person could deny a rate reduction after such a perfectly formed rationalization. I was proud of how clever, charming, and witty an explanation I had developed. Only to hear,
“Sir, why are you wasting my time with such a poorly conceived argument. You are neither clever nor charming. And in terms of wit sir, there are 10,000 comedians out of work and you’re trying to make me laugh. Who do you think you are?”
Okay…she didn’t say that, but it was close, and I didn’t get my rate reduced; but I gained new knowledge from the experience. I now know that (some) hotel clerks have a poor sense of humor and evidently a heart three sizes too small. Lesson learned.
Some lessons are learned very quickly, like with the click of a mouse. Others are learned over time with new experiences. No matter how much time passes between the action and the lesson, what is common to both is a change in perspective.
It was a change in perspective that allowed me to realize just how special downtown Harrisonburg really is. Having grown up in the area, it was easy to assume all towns had a similar vitality about them. Beautiful buildings and great amenities are common enough; I mean most towns experienced the 1880’s. It was easy to take for granted what had been cultivated in downtown Harrisonburg.
Only after I was given the opportunity to study economic and community development and work in the same field did I realize what I thought was common, wasn’t common at all. There is a vibrancy that exists in downtown Harrisonburg derived from a sense of opportunity. There is entrepreneurship in the air. There is a simultaneous effort to embrace heritage while employing progressive thought. There is willingness among local government, merchants, and community members to establish an achievable plan and execute it.
Collectively, downtown Harrisonburg is a shining example that runs in direct contrast to those that believe sense of community is dying and downtowns are not viable. For me, there was an opportunity to change perspective and realize just how rare and precious this is. Lesson learned.