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10 Minutes Peace

    by Susan McGrath

Foreign Diplomat
Date Posted: July 21, 2007

I traveled with youth from my church to a convention in Chicago a couple of summers ago, but this memory and its lesson are still fresh in my mind. The group we were with provided all kinds of helpful information to help us save money. One of the top things on the list was to bring the tax exemption number from the church and be approved to use it.

So I dug through some files the night before, came up with the documentation and was all prepared. (The hotel had suggested this to our organization, by the way.) We took an early train (like the sun was still asleep) and arrived about 10 am., well before check-in time. (Which the hotel also recommended we do, as the larger rooms would be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.)

After winding my way through the rope maze, I proceeded to the hospitality clerk, gave my name and presented my tax exemption documentation, to which she replied "Oh, we only honor that for foreign diplomats."

Now, aside from being on the edge of frustration, my mind was also processing the ridiculousness of that statement. Foreign diplomats are exempt from everything in this country, the least of which includes taxes.

I'd only had three hours sleep the night before and a quick doze on the train, so my wit was not at its sharpest. A couple hours later while taking a relaxing tour I thought of the come-back: "Ma'am, I am a citizen of heaven and an ambassador for Christ, so surely that qualifies me as a foreign diplomat."

Well, I was given plenty of opportunity to act out that claim. My patience continued to be tested that day. We arrived back at the hotel and checked to see if our room was ready. It wasn't.

We window shopped and had a snack and wondered where our luggage was and talked with arriving friends (some of whom were given a room immediately) and checked on our room again. It wasn't ready.

By the way, did I mention that our room wasn't ready yet? Did I mention this was a world-renowned, five-star hotel?

I was supposed to help register others in our organization as they arrived, so with no room in which to eliminate the sleepy, train-rumpled look, I proceeded to my post. But I sent one of the kids to check, and guess what? They said the room was ready!

Except she couldn't get the keys because her name wasn't on the room list. So I went to my first (required) meeting and then headed down to get my room keys before the next session (also required) began.

And would you believe it -- our room WASN'T ready! They couldn't explain to me how it got un-ready during that hour, but ready it was not! (The very polite gentleman at the desk asked housekeeping to put it on the priority list.)

I would just like to have been on the list where some of our friends' names appeared when they arrived at 3 p.m. and were handed a key.

So I went to my second meeting (late). When it was finally over, and my eyes and brain were both swimming from exhaustion and I wasn't sure whether to scream or cry, I was able to again (for the sixth time) wait in line to see if my room was really ready.

It wasn't! But housekeeping would send someone to inspect it. At this point I decided to express my frustration (After all, a large sign at the desk said to let them know if they were less than perfect. Gee, I wonder if this situation qualified?)

I told the guy I felt I should be compensated and asked for a free night. (We were staying four.) He said he could give me half a night. But not in cash, as my check had already been processed. How about some gift certificates to our hotel restaurant? (Somebody knows how to keep the profits in the building.)

Sure, why not? Just give me some keys!

"Oh, and by the way," he informed me, "that big room with two bathrooms the clerk promised you when you registered at ten this morning. We gave it to someone else. But here's a smaller, single bathroom version for you." (Okay, he didn't say it like that, but that's how I heard it!)

I'm happy to report, though, that at 8 p.m., only ten hours after checking in, we finally got a room! The bellman who brought up our bags said he thought that was a record wait -- at least for the day!

So how did I do as an ambassador for Christ? I didn't yell at anyone, or even treat them rudely. But I sure thought about it. Perhaps instead of a tour, we should have had a prayer meeting.

"We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." -- 2 Corinthians 5:20

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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