Just a Thought... When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it. [Paul 'Bear' Bryant]
Thanks for coming along on our US travel adventures. We began in Nevada (after Rob drove down there - in two days!) and made our way up and across to Utah. The scenery, as we moved from desert to mountains, was too much for my iPhone to take in fully, but it didn't stop me from trying.
We spent our one and only night in Utah in Provo, a place I'd heard of in Osmond interviews as a teen. Nestled among mountains and rivers, Provo is a quiet city watched over by gleaming white temples of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as LDS or Mormons.
After a long day's drive in 40+ temperatures, and taking in a stunning sunset near Nephi, Utah because of a nearby wildfire...
...we settled in for some home(like) cooking at a Cracker Barrel, where we chatted with our LDS server about her having moved there to go to Brigham Young University. She met the man who would be her husband in second year, and there she is.
Her enthusiasm and kindness were remarkable; she had the kitchen improvise chicken in gravy when they'd run out of the dish for the night. And it was excellent, or so I'm told; your trusty scribe just had salad. And, thankfully, not a MAGA hat in sight (although it does seem that no one takes their hat off in a restaurant anymore).
In the next few paragraphs here and again tomorrow, I'm going to indulge in something I usually try hard to steer clear of, and that is generalization. But I'm honestly sharing with you the impressions I got of our time in Utah and our fleeting association with a few of its residents.
I'm not going so far as to say that everyone in the state follows the same religion (they do not), nor will I make the leap that they all have the same personality traits, but the warmth and friendliness of the people we encountered were remarkable. A seeming sincerity that you don't always find when you're a traveler; a kind of welcome, both implied and expressed.
Perhaps it was the chatty friendliness of our server, or maybe it was the kindness that was extended to me by the young man with gleaming teeth and sparkling blue eyes at our hotel later that same night.
After a satisfying dinner, we drove the few miles as directed by our GPS and pulled up to a budget hotel in a sort of industrial park nestled next to a river. As Rob began to unload the car, I proceeded to the front desk. A young dark-haired man named Mike met me and welcomed me. Then, strangely, he couldn't find the reservation I'd made the previous day on Expedia.
I opened my email from Expedia and handed him the phone, inviting him to scroll away. And that's when he found it: I'd inadvertently booked a room for the previous night and was obviously a no-show. Well, there was about $150 US I wasn't getting back. I sighed and apologized, saying we were in the midst of a lot of travel and bookings and I'd clearly messed up. I wasn't angry or disappointed; I just kind of went, "Well, what are you going to do?" - meaning me, not him. I expected and asked for nothing.
That's when Mike said, "Well, you've already paid, so I'll tell you what: just stay here tonight instead." I was gobsmacked. As I say, I had considered that I'd made a mistake, I'd have to eat my error and just pay to book another night. I thought I might ask if he had a "walk up" rate that I could take advantage of. But no. Mike extended that offer and I gratefully accepted.
Is Mike LDS? I'm going to guess a solid yes, just based on my impressions and, yes, generalization. Was this part of his religious teaching - to extend to a weary stranger a bit of comfort and help? I don't know. I have no idea what prompted him to do this, especially when I've read plenty of reviews of other hotels where similar hapless guests had made the same mistake and not a thing was done or offered to them.
But I am grateful. And that, to me, is Christianity as the teachings of Jesus would want it practised: kindness without avarice and compassion without judgment. Just almost exactly the opposite to the policies and actions we are reading about daily south of the border.
I wondered who Mike voted for in 2016.
Our next day's journeys took us the hour-long drive (a longer one than usual, thanks to construction) to Salt Lake City, home of the Mormon Tabernacle and its world-famous choir. The experience we had walking SLC's streets was, in a word, surreal, and I'll share some of it with you here tomorrow.
(@erindavis on Twitter)