Last week I reminded you of how important first impressions can be. We left the Theta Chi House at The University of Colorado in Boulder and began flying to the gold coast. We ended up in Fresno and, in particular, Fresno State University. Reread last week’s story to be brought up to speed. We made an interim stop in Salt Lake City before continuing our journey to Fresno, CA.
We knew where the inexpensive beds would be from our stay in Boulder. We began hunting for the Theta Chi Fraternity house. Before long we found the familiar OX sign above the front door, only to find the house was locked up tighter than a drum. No problem.
Foolishly believing that this was “our” house regardless of the location, I was boosted up to the second floor where I gained entry through an unlocked window. (Regardless of the state you are in, the time of day, your major, or the local prowess of your lineage, this is commonly referred to in a court of law as “breaking and entering.”)
I entered the house and walked down the stairs before opening the front door to allow for some fresh air to “condition” the stifling heat inside. Little did we know at the time that Fresno can have daytime temps often approaching 100 degrees.
When a car pulled up, a college-aged boy/man asked what we were doing here and who had let us into the house. “We are Theta Chi’s from UMASS,” we quickly explained, “and we decided to hole-up here for a few days. This is our house.”
He responded with, “You can’t do that. You will die. There is no air conditioning inside and we are expecting a heatwave. I am your fraternity brother here at FSU. You can stay with me at my air-conditioned apartment.” And that is exactly what we did… and where we stayed…absolutely FREE. No room charge. No meal charge. No beer charge. FREE. Honored guests of our frat brother.
This was hospitality at its finest, with the sole common denominator being, “we were brothers”—albeit 3,000 miles separating us. Note: Did I mention he and his roommate even secured a few lovely dates for us while we were in town?
We soon came to our senses and realized we did not want to overdo our stay. We packed up, thanked our host profusely, and continued our journey with nothing but fond memories of the days and nights we spent in Fresno.
I won’t bore you with the specifics of our next stop, UCLA, but soon the fall beckoned; and it was time for us to head back east. This time however, we purchased a commercial flight ticket back to Denver before driving non-stop to Amherst, Massachusetts in time for football practice.
The saga continues.
One year later back in Massachusetts, my phone rang. On the line was our fraternity brother from Fresno. He had flunked out of school and was drafted. As luck would have it, his base (Fort Devens) was just 63 miles from our campus. I immediately invited him to grab a few of his army buddies and find their way to UMASS. It was payback time.
This time, we gave them beds. We fed them. We supplied the beer… and dates. What a great weekend that was… with turn-about being fair play.
I will never forget the few days I spent in Fresno and the genuine hospitality we received from a stranger. I see this lesson as being three-pronged. (1) Kindness never goes out of style. (2) What goes around comes around in this ever-shrinking world of ours. (3) If you get caught red-handed breaking and entering, pray that you get caught by a guy with an air-conditioned apartment with a fridge full of cold beer.
Mike Marchev is always looking for a few more proactive travel professionals to join his Sales and Marketing Club. firstname.lastname@example.org.
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