One stormy evening, an elderly couple who were looking for a room for the night arrived at
the Belle Vue Hotel in Philadelphia. It was raining heavily so they hurried in.
“Could you give us a room?” the elderly man asked.
The clerk, a friendly young man, explained that there were three international conferences
in town and not a single hotel had rooms available.
“All the guest rooms are taken,” the clerk said. “But I can’t send you out into the rain. Would
you like to sleep in my room? It’s not very big but you’ll be comfortable there.”
“Where are you going to sleep?” the elderly man asked.
“Don’t worry. I can sleep in the reception area. You have no option but to stay here. You might
not even get a taxi to the station in this kind of weather,” the clerk told them, and the couple
agreed to his kind offer.
The next morning the elderly man offered some money for the room but the clerk refused to
take it. “I didn’t do it for money. I just wanted to help you,” the clerk said.
“You are the person who should be the manager of the best hotel in the world. If I built a great
hotel, would you come and join me?” the elderly man asked.
The clerk did not take the offer seriously and just laughed. “If you build one, I certainly will,
Sir. And now, your taxi is waiting,” he replied.
Two years passed. The clerk had been promoted and had forgotten about the incident. But one
day he received a letter from the elderly man, inviting him to visit New York. Inside
the envelope there was also a train ticket.
The clerk was curious and decided to go. The elderly man met him at the station, and led him
to the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34 th Street. He then pointed to a huge new building there,
with towers reaching up into the sky.
“That,” said the elderly man, “is the hotel I have just built for you to manage.”
“You must be joking,” the young man said.
“I am not. I hired the best architects to design it and I need the best manager to run it,”
The elderly man’s name was William Waldorf, one of the richest men in New York, and that
magnificent structure was the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, at the time one of the best hotels
in the world. The young clerk was George C. Boldt. He ran the hotel for the next 23 years.
adapted from http://academictips.org