Hometown Heroes……. Definitely under appreciated: Three reasons why they deserve appreciation.

I recently had a weekend full of exceptional customer experiences.  The funny thing is, I was going about my mundane daily errands and was exposed to some extremely amazing experiences.

Experience #1

My wife and I had the pleasure of shopping together for the weekends meals.  I know what you’re thinking, the pleasure of shopping for the weekends meals, where’s the pleasure come from; keep in mind that we have five beautiful children and don’t get much opportunity to do anything alone.  Anyway back to my story.  We were both starving because it was after lunch and neither of us had anything to eat since breakfast.  Here is a little note to the reader.  Never, ever, ever go shopping for groceries on an empty stomach.  You will end up buying 10 gallons of cookies and cream ice cream and swear it is a necessity.  So my wife suggested that we go over to the deli first and share a small snack before starting to shop.  When we get over there, there is no one to help us.  Remember, we are both starving and short on patience.  Within a minute I was asking her if we should flag someone down.  We didn’t.  We probably waited another 30 seconds before we were helped.  The young man appeared from the back like a ghost.  Surprise!  The young man at the deli greeted us with a smile.  Some people can be very indecisive when they are hungry.  That’s us.  He offered us a sample of some of the food.  He gave us a piece of food and my wife said thanks we can share.  He then proceeded to say no problem you can both have your own sample.  I laughed and said I’m a grown man not a baby boy.  He agreed and thought if we were sharing I would need a sample.  He also suggested some other items that would compliment our choice.  In the end we were looking for a snack but from his amazing customer service he sold us on a meal and we ended up getting Ice Cream!  I was blown away.  This young man was probably less than 25 and treated us with respect and up-sold us like crazy.  This grocery store is a large regional chain in the mid-west and I have been shopping here for 20+ years.  I have never experienced such great salesmanship in any of the chains stores.  This young man should be commended by his superiors.

Experience dos( spanish for 2 )

I was totally caught off guard by this experience.  After the deli greatness, my wife and I stopped by our local thrift store to drop off some of our gently used items for donation.  We pulled up and I got out of the car to open the trunk and pull out the donations.  One of the employees came out with a smile and said “Hello sir, how are you today?”  I answered fine and proceeded to get the donations out.  By this time another employee came out.  He was also smiling and asked “How are you sir?”  At this point I’m thinking two things: 1. These guys are being very polite. and 2. Do I look old?

Keep in mind, we donate here all the time and I think this is the first time anyone called me sir.  We made some small talk while finishing the transaction.  The second gentleman gave me a receipt and thanked me for his employment.  WOW!  I never thought by donating my unused clothing and furniture that I was helping create employment for someone.  I then thanked him for opening my eyes and that his enthusiasm would be the reason I would only donate with them in the future.

Experience trois( french! I’m trilingual )

20 years ago who would have thought you could make money selling air.

This is the one I will never forget.  I was on my way to meet someone and remembered that my wife said that my tire was low and needed air.  If you don’t already know, there is almost nowhere you can get air for your tire without paying.  So I stop at one of my local filling stations to get some vended air.  Problem:  I don’t have any cash.  These vending machines only take quarters.  So I figured I would buy a bottled water and get some cash back from my debit card.  Problem compounded:  This station doesn’t give cash back.  I was totally ready to leave and go to the ATM or chance it and go home.  The manager on duty Blair Sobeleskey overheard the dilemma and went into her own pocket and gave me four quarters.  Unbelievable!  This woman who only knows me as a regular customer, went to an unbelievable extent to take care of me.  She said she would feel bad if she heard that because of my nearly flat tire I was involved in an accident and got hurt.

Just goes to show.  There are people out there who care about others because it is the right thing to do.  Many thanks to Blair Sobeleskey.  You are appreciated.  If I misspelled your name I apologize.

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The Taste of Chicago……….sleep so good.

I love Chicago.  Everything about this metropolis is totally inviting.  Recently I along with some of my closest friends took on Chicago during the famous “Taste”.  There are a few important choices to make if you are vacationing in Chicago.  Choice number 1: Which of the many magnificent hotels you will lodge.  Choice number 2: Of the many amazing restaurants, which few are a must to visit.  Choice number 3: Too many historic locations to visit.

Now the really cool thing about Chicago is that of these three choices, you can almost throw a dart and be guaranteed a great trip.  When planning my trip I did not however throw that dart.  As I have spent countless long weekends in the Windy City, I was a little more deliberate in my selection.  I decided to bed in the west suburban city of Rosemont.  The plan was to take the Blue line from Rosemont into the city daily.  Normally we bed in downtown at one of the four or five-star hotels(I’m not rich just a smart consumer).  Now these hotels have location hands down.  You can access all the major museums, all the pro sports venues, too many restaurants to name, and the nightlife is amazing.  Some of the challenges are parking is sky-high(all big cities follow suite), the wait for any of the eateries is 1 hour or more, and it usually takes forever to check in to your hotel.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE CHICAGO.  I know when I go downtown to eat I’m going to wait for an hour at least before I sit down.  For me, the challenges are part of the adventure.  Knowing this, if you’ve never been to a monster sized city you will be faced with these challenges.

“Buckingham Fountain” in Grant Park downtown Chicago Illinois

Anyway, we bedded in Rosemont.  The hotel/resort we stayed in was a very nice hotel/resort.  We were greeted with a warm formal introduction by the concierge.  He welcomed us to his hotel/resort and asked if we needed help with our luggage.  I proceeded to check in while the rest of the group helped with the luggage.  When I go to check in I was greeted with a smile and was made to feel comfortable.  During the check in process, I was engaged with small talk and was asked what was on our agenda for our weekend.  I mentioned that I was starving and then was offered a paper menu from the restaurant in the lobby and was also given a list of some of the local eateries.  I love local eateries in the Chicago area.  As the check in process was coming to an end I asked for a complimentary upgraded room(be careful what you ask for, you may just get it).  The CSR informed me that the hotel/resort was completely booked for the weekend; however, she could put me in a corner suite with more square footage and a better view.  Of course I accepted and thanked her.

Our suite was very spacious.  It had a sitting area with a love seat, a coffee table, a desk, and a magnificent view.  Also it was at the end of the hall.  Quiet and very secluded.  We stayed for two nights.  For breakfast we had a good amount of choice.  We could have a nice breakfast in bed, we could have a five-star breakfast experience in the restaurant, or we could get bagels and cream cheese in the cafe.  We chose the cafe as we were saving room for the “Taste”.  One of the surprises was that there was a casino in Rosemont in walking distance from our hotel.  And even cooler, there was a free shuttle bus from the train station.  We went to the casino for entertainment but I didn’t win any money.  I never do.  The casino always wins.  Don’t go to casino’s to make money.  Go to casino’s for the entertainment.  Back to my hotel/resort.  As we went to check out the CSR asked how our stay was and I informed her that we had a great time and would definitely bed there again.  We checked out and headed to the van to shove off.  However, we never paid for parking.  So I rolled back to the desk to pay for parking so we could be on our way.  When I arrived at the front desk and told the CSR that we needed to pay for parking she took my ticket validated it and told me it was on the house.  I was blown away.  She basically saved us in excess of $75 for parking. AMAZING!

Overall my stay was great.  I didn’t come across one issue until I arrived home.  The issue didn’t have a thing to do with the hotel/resort.  It was my fault totally.  As I was unpacking, I realized I had left my toiletries in the hotel room.  I was kicking myself, kicking myself, kicking myself.  I left my crazy expensive toothbrush, some of my favorite cologne, and my grooming kit.  I was totally bummed that I forgot my toiletries.  I couldn’t let it go.  I had to get my belongings.  On Tuesday morning I called the hotel and informed them of my belongings being left in the room.  They tracked down my things and told me they would send them to the shipping department.  I would be called to verify my address and shipping preferences.  Now I was feeling good that I would eventually get my things.  However, I never got a call.  Wednesday came and went no call.  I was being very patient because this situation was totally my fault.  On Thursday lo and behold my package arrives.  Unbelievable!  Due to my absent-mindedness I left some belongings in my hotel room, and in less than a week I had them back in my possessions on the hotels dime.  This customer service was far above and extremely beyond normal.  Just to put it into perspective, during one of my many trips to Vegas I was gifted $1000+ worth of gifts from vendors.  These gifts were stolen from my room by the housekeeping staff.  I did get a tour of the back house of one of the more famous casinos; however, I never recovered my gifts.  But my Rosemont hotel/resort made me whole in less than a week.

My hat is off to the folks at the Westin O’hare in Rosemont, Illinois.  You made my stay a very memorable one.  I will definitely be back.