Refurbishing my family room has involved a few trips to the Used a Bit furniture store. On my first visit, I considered a large coffee table. An elegant clerk appreciated the table with me and said that it would be the perfect size to spread out a big puzzle that the family could solve together, which is something she loves to do.
Her gracious manner made it easy for me to picture a happy family bending together over a puzzle, cheering when someone placed a particularly tricky piece. It struck me that this clerk must have a gift for hospitality that shows up as she lays out puzzles for her family and also as she helps people like me shop for furniture. She turned my trip to a second-hand store into a special outing that felt full of promise. Even though I didn’t buy the table, I left feeling unexpectedly pampered.
A few weeks later, I returned to Used a Bit, pulling an enclosed trailer behind my truck. I had carefully engineered this opportunity, freeing the trailer from farm-related activities so I could bring home a couch. My favorite clerk was at the store again, and with her help, I found a sofa that felt like such a special addition to my home.
When I opened my trailer door to load in the sofa, I found that the young people who packed our eggs for our wholesale buyer had stashed all our rejected, slightly cracked eggs inside it. The trailer floor was coated with hundreds of broken eggs, which had jostled out of their crates as I drove to town. My favorite clerk showed up with paper towels and a trash can, praising my calm attitude and apologizing that she couldn’t stay because she had customers. I felt the same respect and graciousness from her that I did when she was helping me choose fun furniture.
It’s one thing to be kind and elegant with a customer as you help her choose home decor. It is another thing to act that way to someone who is standing in a trailer with hundreds of broken eggs that are oozing out the door and onto the parking lot. This woman’s hospitality was not phased by a mess.
We all sometimes need the kind of hospitality that stays strong in the face of big messes. Even in situations that seem mundane, that kind of hospitality can be a force for healing because it nourishes people when they need it most. That kindness can take a life of its own and pass on from person to person long after the original act of hospitality passes from memory.
I used up almost all the paper towels and filled a small trash can with goopy eggs, but I got that trailer clean enough to haul my sofa home. Finally, I arrived back at home with a fun new sofa, and with a fresh appreciation for the power of everyday kindness.