One of our favorite musicians, Gregory Alan Isakov, was playing at the Nebraska Folk & Roots Festival north of Lincoln, and we had tickets! Shane had looked up the tour the night before and realized he’d be playing just minutes outside of town at the beautiful Branched Oak Farm. So much of this just plans itself! We had once again exhausted our search for national forests in Nebraska and aimed to check into a budget hotel for the evening.

Nate put his scrounger skills to the test and scored an excellent deal on the north side of town. The Oak Tree Inn appeared to be just what we needed to rinse off and head to the festival. We approached the check in desk, and a woman at the counter looked up with distressed eyes and an exhausted smile. “How can I help you?” she asked politely. “Just checking in,” Nate replied. From there, we found out the story behind a face that looked so overwhelmed.

Becky, the hotel clerk, explained that the hotel’s online reservation system hadn’t been shut down despite the hotel being booked to capacity. To make matters worse, her cleaning staff hadn’t showed up that day, which left many of the rooms unready for guests. Through all of this, Becky apologized repeatedly and maintained her genuine sweetness despite the difficult situation. We noticed her stress and assured her we would work something out. It wasn’t a major issue. “I just don’t know how they expect me to…” Becky trailed off and began to cry. She had tried so hard to keep those tears inside, but the burden had become too much to bear.

Nate walked behind the counter and reached his arms out, “Aww, let me give you a hug. It’s not your fault!” Becky stepped out from behind the counter and through tears continued to apologize. “Really, this will all work out. Don’t worry about our reservation!” we said. She stepped back and asked us if we could wait a few minutes while she sifted through some papers, all reservations for rooms she didn’t have.

While we took a seat, Becky assisted the flood of guests to the counter –  maintaining her professionalism the entire time. After the desk slowed down, she called us up with a room she found. We chatted during the process and found out she works overtime each week. “What are you saving up for?” Nate asked. “A car,” she replied with a smile. “I walk for now.”

Becky completed our check-in, and we retired to our room. She continued to thank us for being understanding in such a vulnerable time. “And thank you for the hug,” she said. “I just, I was just overwhelmed!” In the end, Becky had handled the situation exactly as she should have.

As we sat in the room processing our interaction with Becky, we knew we could recognize her hard work. Nate wrote her a note and put a little something in an envelope to begin to help with her car savings. On our way out for the night, we caught Becky at the desk and handed her the envelope. “We just want to recognize you for your hard work,” Nate told her. Becky’s eyes softened and without opening the note, thanked us.

Hours later, Gregory Alan Isakov and his orchestra echoed through the air of a perfect Nebraska summer evening when Nate’s phone began to vibrate. He recognized Becky’s voice and her continued graciousness, “Really guys, just thank you. Thank you.”

Sometimes a hug is all that needs to be said.

#ProjectWildness #LiveWildness #GoodInspiresGood

To Linda E… In years of being behind the counter at the local bank, we imagine you’ve had your fair share of overwhelming situations and maybe even customers. You took some of your own Pay It Forward funds and your hard work helped recognize the hard work of Becky from Nebraska. Maybe you can join us in imagining what kind of car she’ll be driving in the future! Thanks for your support! We couldn’t do this type of work without people like you.

To Katie W… Seeing your donation reminded me of the old days in Mr. Hanson’s math class. We were happy to see your name pop up last summer and finally put it to good use! While our paths may not have crossed paths in the last few years, it sounds like you’ve been doing some generous work in your own life! Thank you for your support and the good you do!