What goes around, comes around!
“Kelly?”, I asked the rather startled lady running around with drinks and food for everybody who had gathered around the big outside patio and bar area on the fifth floor of the JW Marriott in Marco Island.
“Yes?”, the lady replied in a muffled sort of way from behind the mask but clearly confused about why I was asking that question.
“You may not remember me. Let’s try this..”, I said, as I removed my mask.
“Oh! Raj! Westin!”
You see, right behind my office in Itasca (suburban Chicago) is the Westin I often stay in. And Kelly used to work there before the pandemic hit. During pandemic, she found a job in the JW Marriott in Marco Island and moved there. And that is exactly where I was vacationing with Sharmila!
To be fair, this was not sheer luck. I could not have recognized Kelly with her mask on. There is a backstory to this.
Two weeks back, I was in the Westin hotel and sitting at the bar talking up Janice and Tom – the two folks who have helped me there for the last few years. Janice and I were catching up on our families when I mentioned that my wife and I had lined up a few vacations to make up for Covid time. She mentioned how she wanted to visit Florida and visit an old friend from Westin who has moved there.
“Who is it?”
“She has moved to Marco Island.”
“Really? I am going to be there in 2 weeks time with my wife. I have never been there.”
“You will love it. She works in the Marriott there. Beautiful property.”
“Wait a minute. Which Marriott?”
“No way! That is where I will be staying. I will be sure to meet her!!”
Now roll forward a couple of weeks. I am back at the Itasca Westin after a day’s work. Dropped my suitcase and all that in the room and went straight to the bar to catch up on some dinner.
Janice saw me from a distance and waved at me.
“I have something for you!”
“I have a vague idea what it might be!”
And that is when she went inside and got my sunglasses out for me.
You are probably wondering what is the thread joining all this, right? Well, the day after I met Kelly was the day we were checking out. And I suddenly realized that I was missing my sunglasses. Went around the hotel and reported to the authorities to let me know if they ever find it.
And reluctantly drove back to the airport, all the time squinting in my left eye in the bright Florida sunlight.
Before jumping on to the plane, I left a note for Kelly that I was missing my sunglasses. I was not sure I would ever get it back. I left a voicemail at my eye-doctor’s too. Those were prescription glasses and I can’t simply just walk in and get myself a new one. Since I have very high numbers (negative 8.5), it takes time to make those glasses.
The flight from Fort Myers to Atlanta had no wifi connection.
“Que sera, sera”, I said to myself and just settled down.
By the time I got down in Atlanta, there was a message from Kelly. Which made it crystal clear to me what had happened to my sunglasses.
The previous evening, Sharmila and I were sitting at the bar and talking about the kids and her mom in India. Before signing off, I was trying to take a picture of us. I used the sunglass cover as a support for my iPhone while setting up for a time-delayed picture.
Eduardo – who was serving us – and in the previous days had given us a few tips on what to do when we visit his motherland Colombia had coming running around and offered to take the picture for us. Which he did.
And he handed my phone back to me. I admired the pictures he had taken (which is a difficult thing to do since my picture was also there). And completely forgot about the sunglasses which I had carefully positioned.
Eduardo realized my mistake later but was not aware that I was checking out the next day. He had kept it for safekeeping to give it back to me. Of course, I never showed up.
Kelly picked it up from him.
And this is where my lucky break comes. Kelly had mentioned that she would be back in Chicago to close out on selling their house and finish up her chapter there.
While there, she came by her old work place and handed my long lost sunglasses to Janice.
And that is how I was reunited with my sunglasses!!
“Janice, can I take a picture of you with the sunglasses? I want to show it to my wife and kids. They always make fun of me for making friends with strangers. I want them to know that I would not have found my sunglasses but for that!”
That was an interesting set of connections – involving two cities, two hotels, two bartenders, one set of sunglasses and one person never ceasing to be awed by the personal stories of people he chances upon!!
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