To Tomicka Who Works the Night Shift at the Crowne Plaza

 

Dear Tomicka Who Works the Night Shift at the Crowne Plaza at the Seattle Airport,

I don’t know how many frantic phone calls you field every night. I don’t know how many of those come from mommies who are too far away from their kids to help them. I don’t know how many times you have to calm them the heck down and tell them not to worry because you’ve got this. I don’t know if this was old hat to you or a first. All I know is, you handled it like a rock star.

My kid was stranded the other night at the airport with a flight cancelled due to snow, which you already know because we talked about it on the phone while we became best friends. She’d flown to Seattle from Oregon on her way back to college in Hawaii, but, after waiting inside the airport 6 hours and another 3 hours sitting on the plane, the flight was cancelled, the passengers returned to the gate, and she was stuck. Tired from a long day of travel and delays, and stuck.

Now, yes. My kid is 18 and a half, so technically an adult. But she’s a BRAND NEW adult — a baby adult — and, perhaps more importantly, her mommy is new to having an adult, so we’re just learning the ropes around here. She could have handled herself. She would have done fine. But she was traveling alone for the first time, and it was snowing buckets outside, and the next flight wasn’t leaving ’til morning, so MOMMY TO THE RESCUE, right?? Except I couldn’t really rescue her. I could only try to find a place for her to sleep while she navigated the rest on her own.

I booked her a room at the Crowne Plaza.

We usually stay at a different hotel at the Seattle airport. One with crumbling asphalt in the parking lot and a very long, bent chain link fence. They serve horrible coffee with powdered creamer, and the carpets are stained, but the rooms are clean and cheap, and, frankly, that’s all we usually look for in a hotel.

But I booked her a room at the Crowne Plaza. The price was $50 more than we usually spend, but I wanted a place that made her feel safe. I wanted a place that made me feel safe. A clean room, not as cheap, but safe. I assume this is what people talk about when they say they have “standards.” Ours are usually lower than other people’s, but this time, no. Crowne Plaza it was.

I called you after I made the booking because I know hotels don’t usually allow 18-year-olds to book rooms, and I needed to make sure you’d let her check in. It was 11:00pm, dark with flurries furiously falling, and Abby was making her way to the hotel shuttles. She was texting me every minute to ask if she was in the right place. To ask if I was sure.

“This is the Crowne Plaza, Tomicka speaking. How may I help you?”

“Tomicka? My name is Beth. My daughter, Abby, just had her flight canceled so I booked her a room with you. She’s 18.”

“Well… our policy doesn’t allow 18-year-olds to stay alone here…”

I interrupted you. I was maybe a tiny bit frantic. “But my kid is STRANDED AT THE AIRPORT, Tomicka, and she’s ALONE, so WE NEED A SOLUTION. What is our solution here??”

“It’s OK,” you said. And “DO NOT PANIC.” Which sometimes I need to hear, even if I say back, “I AM NOT PANICKING, TOMICKA. I AM VERY CALM.”

“Let me finish,” you said, and I took a deep breath which was really just me preparing TO FIGHT YOU TO THE DEATH for a room for my child, but then you said these words to me, “Beth. Listen. I am a mommy. I will take care of your daughter. Although our policy doesn’t allow 18-year-olds to check in alone, I will call my manager right now to get an exception approved. I am on this. We can make this happen. I’ll call you back in 10 minutes.”

Listen, Tomicka. When my kid was tiny, we had one rule if she got lost. I drilled it into her over and over.

“If you get lost, what do you do?” I’d ask. “FIND A MOMMY,” she’d reply.

Find a mommy. That was our rule. Because I knew, if my little lost one wandered up to a mommy with a stroller, or a mommy handing out goldfish crackers at a park, or a mommy pushing a kid on a swing, and said “I am lost,” the mommy would protect her. The mommy would help her find her way back to me. Oh sure, the mommy’s reaction after that could go either way — she might be amazingly sympathetic and pat me on the back and say “there, there” while I cried out the adrenaline of losing my kid, or she might be mean and ask me what kind of a mother I am, anyway to lose my child like this? — but I knew she would keep my kids safe before that reaction. And that’s all I needed to know. One rule: Find a Mommy.

You called me back 10 minutes later, just like you said. And also like you said, you’d fixed everything. My kid could check in with the caveat that she couldn’t order room service because they serve alcohol, so delivery would be restricted on her account. “Don’t worry, though,” you said again, “Here’s a number to call if you want to order her a pizza or something. She’s probably hungry.” She was. She hadn’t eaten for 12 hours. She was tired and she was hungry. “BUT IF YOU ORDER,” you clarified, “make sure you have them deliver it here to the front desk. It’s probably fine to have them deliver to her room, but she’s 18 and traveling alone, so let’s just have them meet here where I am.”

 

“And listen,” you said, “ANYTHING she needs tonight — anything at all — you have her come find Tomicka, OK? I’m a mommy, too. That’s what we do.”

That’s when I said I love you and that you’re my best friend forever.

People ask me all the time, with all the terrible things happening around the world, why I stubbornly think people are good. Why I think there’s still hope. Why I insist that people I haven’t met in real life are, too, my very real friends and not virtual at all. You, Tomicka, proved my point. I keep thinking that way because people like you exist. People who look out for others. People who find common ground. A community of mommies. A community of momrades. Which is why, even if we never meet face-to-face, I still will always be,

Your best friend forever,

 

 

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misspelled Tomicka’s name as Tanika (as can still be seen in text photos).

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
26 comments
  1. […] Fivekidsisalotofkids: I haven’t delved as deeply into her blog as I would like. I loved her post about feeling helpless while her just turned adult daughter was stranded a few states away. I did have a connection to the story in that she was stranded in Seattle and it immediately made me look at the date and see if there was any way I could help! There wasn’t. It was a few weeks ago and for some odd reason I felt bummed. That’s how much I liked the post. […]

  2. Teary eyed here too!

  3. Thank you, Tomika. You are a gift to the world, and to all the lost children.

  4. Great Job Tanika! You delivered exceptional Hospitality!

  5. Crowne Plaza forever!! And Tomika, too!

    Teary eyed at work (post office) but it’s so perfect. Look for a mommy, yep, we will always be there for you.

  6. And, just like that. I’m sitting at my desk at work, blubbering and crying because of Mommies. Wasn’t expecting that, Beth, but oh my god, my heart. Love this. SO much.
    My husband and I were just discussing our 7 year old and concluded that if she ever got lost, chances are pretty good that she’d be able to resourcefully navigate her way to find us or someone who could find us. (The 4 year old would be gone forever, but we’re pretty confident that her new family would love her just as much).

    Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  7. There’s something wrong with me. I am crying. I think you made my stress leak out of my eyes.

  8. Make sure Tomicka reads this. Make sure her manager reads this. Make sure the damn corporate office of the Crowne Plaza reads this. She deserves recognition for outstanding care. The older our kids get, the bigger the village–thank God for that!

    1. They have. 🙂 Thanks, Michelle.

  9. YES, Tomicka for president!!!

  10. A big shout out to all the mommies out the helping other people’s babies.

  11. Okay, good, it’s not just me who cries.

  12. My baby adult son was once stranded in the airport in Atlanta. His flight from Dayton was delayed. He was seated next to another baby adult who happened to be a bikini model. He had zero concerns. He arrived in Atlanta too late for a flight to Charleston. The wonderful people at the Atlanta airport made arrangements for him to spend a complimentary night in a nearby hotel. I was frantic. He was just disappointed that the bikini model was able to get her connecting flight to Florida.

    1. HAHAHAHAHA! Best story ever. Thanks, Kimberly.

  13. Yes, I needed this. A reminder in the good in humans. Cheers to this!

  14. So glad you and your adultling (my brother-in-law’s name for those new adults we hatch) had Tanika to take such good care of her.

  15. This! So many times THIS! The Tanika’s of the world breathe life and love into everyday human experience. Thankful Abbey had this as her first stranded alone experience.

  16. So glad I am not the only one completely teared up. Love this as a Mommy and the baby adult I was in a similar stranded traveler situation.

  17. My BFF is undergoing cancer treatment, getting ready for bone marrow transplant, and her mom died. We flew to Des Moines, got in about 10pm after a week in the hosp and long flight. Front desk people, a Days Inn, Mr & Mrs Patel, could not have been nicer to us, always said hello, called us by name, did we need anything? As I was still on eastern time, I’d sit in the lobby early early morning and trade kid stories! It’s so wonderful to know that in this crazy screwed up world we are living in, some people are just nice because they’re mommies or daddies. Thank you to Tanika and all the helpful mommies out there.

  18. Tanika sounds like a rock star, I hope someone like that is there for my boys ones day. But, just FYI… I live in Seattle! Your daughter might not really have any idea who I am, but I live by the mommy code too. 😉

  19. All the happy tears from a mommy who still has the little ones who repeat over and over “find a mommy”
    (Actually the first time I told my daughter that she burst into tears and said, “but I don’t want an ‘other mommy’ ! I want you to be my mommy! 😉 )
    Faith in humanity restores today!

  20. I am glad to see I am not the only one tearing up over here!

  21. I hope Tanika reads this along with her manager and the uppity ups of the Crown Plaza company! There IS good in the world.

  22. Oh man, you just made me all weepy. Tanika, YOU are a shining light! I always told my kid to find a mommy, too. (And I laughed a bit over the “not sure about a mommy’s reaction afterward”). But this is us–an army of mommys looking out for each other’s kids. This is how it should be. And good for you, Beth, both for amping up to battle to the death for your baby adult, and also for backing down and trusting when a fellow mommy got your back.

  23. Oh, my.. you made me cry. I know the feeling of relying on the kindness of strangers on the phone to help one of my baby adults out in a crisis.

  24. Tears, just tears. This is beautiful, and I always told my kids to find a Mommy too. You are amazing to share this and give hope. Thank you Tanika, Mommy peeps gotta stick together.
    Waving in the not-too-dark…

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