The well-dressed couple looked weary and bedraggled as they entered the front door of that rather middle-class hotel in San Francisco. “Do you have a room available?” they asked the desk clerk. “I am sorry, but we are sold out,” was his apologetic response.
“Do you know of any lodgings that might be available?” they persisted. “We have been looking for hours and all the hotels seem to be full.” “That is because there are several conferences in town this week,” the clerk responded, “and I don’t know of any rooms available.”
Discouraged, they turned to leave. But before they could reach the door, the clerk called them back. Hesitantly, he spoke: “If you don’t mind, I have a possible answer for you. I have a small room here where I sleep. It isn’t much, but you could use it tonight for no charge, and I could sleep on the floor behind the counter when my shift is over.”
Gratefully, the couple accepted the clerk’s offer. In the morning, when they were leaving, the clerk had just risen from his nap on the floor. Seeing him, the couple came over to express their gratitude. “Let me tell you,” the gentleman said, “if we ever open a hotel, you can be sure we will call you to be the manager for us.”
A few years later the clerk received a letter from the couple, asking him to manage the new hotel they had just opened in New York City. The hotel which Mr. and Mrs. John Jakob Astor opened was the world-famous Waldorf-Astoria.