I had a very emotional evening yesterday when speaking to a married couple. Probably in their fifties, I asked why they decided to come to Sydney on their current trip. 

‘So what brings you here?’ I asked. Working in hospitality to fuel my travel funds means it is a question I ask probably fifty times a day. I don’t get bored of asking as each answer is different. If the reason isn’t a business trip, guests tend to enjoy answering and look forward to the day ahead. 

We had these specific guests booked into an upgraded room type, although they didn’t show too much emotion when notified of this. That’s fine, some people are used to upgrades. Other people can’t be pleased no matter how hard you try. Then there is rarely another answer that helps remind me that I should never judge or assume about someone I have only known for twenty seconds.

‘It’s a long story really. My wife has terminal lung cancer so this is a present from our kids.’

It is at these moments you realise that your response is very important. I’m shocked, but I can’t show that and cause unecessary stress or anxiety. I don’t want to pretend I don’t care, because I absolutely do. I simply nodded and acknowledged the awful news, telling them they will have a great stay and that we are here 24/7 if they needed anything else.

I cannot image how hard it is to accept having a terminal illness, let alone declare it to people and maintain composure. To know the day is on the horizon, everything special that you do is probably for the last time. It’s a sentence I do not want to hear from the doctor, one my dad received. He was given three months. I can only hope the lady checking in has longer than that. Life’s short.

From the hospitality side, not trying to overthink the sudden situation is better than being stuck for words, making an emotional moment worse. They mentioned the reasons for being here. We listened and treated them like any other guests but with additional VIP treatment. I’m just a human crossing their path that can simply listen and help in the small ways possible. This time, helping was to focus on their hotel stay and not the incurable disease. 
When the end is near, I know it will be incredibly difficult but we really need to focus on having this gift of life and not that it will end. I didn’t see the guests again after that, but I hope they had a great stay.

9 thoughts

  1. As a cancer survivor myself, I know how being treated makes such a difference. I could not deal with the doom & gloom negativity some people dish out, so I avoided that type altogether. Being treated positively, a few laughs, & spoiled a bit was welcome.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you were diagnosed. I am pleased however to hear that you avoided any negativity from people and had a few laughs, it truly does make a world of difference!

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