I learned a valuable lesson just a few weeks ago, something that has forever changed my perspective.  We took a European vacation several weeks ago.  Our journey was focused on retracing the path my grandfather took as an Army Chaplain during WWII.  During our trip my mother celebrated her 80th Birthday while reconnecting with her father’s legacy.

Our trip started in Paris and in keeping with many travelers’ episodes wasn’t uneventful.  My mother’s Passport and Credit/Debit Cards had a different travel agenda on day two and ended up missing.  Hastily we returned to our hotel to cancel all of her credit/debit cards and find out how to secure a new passport.  We had to make a non-scheduled trip to the US Embassy in Paris the next day.  As we completed the paperwork, we were informed that the passport and credit/debit cards had been found and the individual had called the Embassy to report it.  He wanted to meet with us that evening when he returned to Paris – but our travel plans didn’t allow us to stay.

As we continued our trip, we realized that we really needed the debit cards as we had to have a cash deposit at a place we had intended to stay.    Enter – Nathalie Guenot.  Nathalie is from Xonrupt Longemor, France.  Nathalie had never met us.  We explained our situation to Nathalie and asked if she could help us get a cash advance against a different card we had with us.  The answer from the bank was no go.  So what did Nathalie do?  She wrote her bank a personal check for 1,600 Euro’s (about $2,000 US) and handed us the money with wiring instructions upon our return in a week.  Let me repeat that, she handed complete strangers 1,600 Euros and a piece of paper trusting that we would repay her.

Lesson Learned:

Prior to going to France, I have to admit I was guilty of some preconceived notions.  The French don’t like us and they don’t trust us.  How could I have been so mistaken?  Here were two examples in a three day time frame which completely reframed my point of view.  Would I have done the same?  I certainly would have returned the passport and credit cards – but would I have written a personal check?

We all form initial impressions and make judgments very quickly.  We have found that to be true in the housecleaning and handyman business as well.  Our customers are quick to formulate an impression on whether or not they trust us.  Thankfully – we seem to always pass that initial litmus test.

Nathalie – thanks for trusting my family as well and for changing my perspective. Vive la France.

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