Cape May Grace story from the trenches

Many years ago in the late 90’s I made some personal decisions that would change the direction and intentions of my life. An outcome of those decisions was to create a personal mission statement. For the life of me, I cannot remember everything I wrote, but the most important aspect went something like being an asset to people, not a liability. I also wanted to be an encourager, not a drain in my relationships with people.

How am I doing?

In this post-pandemic world, those of us in service-related businesses are fending off exhaustion like some scary tree-shaped monster in dark woods. The monster is following us whispering it will catch up. As professionals, we won’t admit it, but the monster is close. Closer to some than others I am sure.

How are you doing?

Being professionals, we keep our game faces on. We smile, say thank you. We do our jobs. Some people will appreciate it. Others won’t care and that’s their prerogative. But we persist.

Recently, encouragement for me came from unexpected sources. A minutes-long phone reservation with a guest who called because she not only liked the Sea Crest reviews in Trip Advisor, she liked how I responded to less than stellar (okay bad) reviews.  “You launched some zingers in that reply,” she said. “And I’m a writer.”

Making Lemonade from lemons.

Most of us are making gallons of lemonade this year. You either like lemonade or you don’t. You can’t please everyone. For some it’s too sweet, for others it’s too tart. Yet others will say the lemonade is taking too long to make. But we keep squeezing the lemons.

A local pizza shop Saturday night had an hour and a half wait for new orders. People kept calling because he makes the best pizza. At another popular restaurant, the owner’s son was operating the dishwasher one night and the fryer station the next night. They remain open seven days a week.

The New York Times recently published an article about a Cape Cod restaurant closing down as an act of kindness toward their staff. A few local restaurants have become flexible with their hours to accommodate tired staff. Not all establishments have that ability or choose not to close.

Stay encouraged, show grace.

Recently I tweeted smiling faces will get a bartender’s attention faster than scowling. Of course, everyone is overwhelmed. When packing put a little extra patience into your suitcase. It will serve you well. One local entertainer from the Honey Hawks put it nicely. “Show grace,” Lelah Eppenbach said. She meant from both sides of the table or counter.

Grace is contagious I believe. The phone call I mentioned earlier, not only resulted in a reservation but an email later that night from the journalist-soon-to-be-guest. She looked up my blog and again complimented my writing style.

She was showing grace.

Yesterday one of my housekeepers texted me from a check-out room. The departing guest left a nice note along with her tip and folded the towels cruise ship style. The smile on Lidia’s face was priceless.

The purpose of this blog entry is to tell the story that needs to be told. Not the story I think you want to hear. All of us thought last year was unprecedented, and it was. Now the rebound is even more unprecedented and people are doing the best they can.

That scary, tree-shaped monster in the dark woods? It’s afraid of grace.


Thanks for reading.









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  1. Hugh Murray
    July 19, 2021 / 8:19 am

    Excellent article John. We residents notice the lack of grace that has arrived this summer with some visitors. And as you know we are acquainted with many of the staff at our local venues. They are doing one hell of a job under some very trying circumstances (I don’t need to tell you). And as you pointed out they are the best examples of GRACE. Well done my friend.

  2. David Greene
    July 19, 2021 / 8:30 am

    Wonderful blog post, John! I have long believed in what you say here. Thank you for the graceful reminder, and for your personal graciousness every day.

  3. Charles Enlind
    July 19, 2021 / 11:22 am

    Quite a few years ago a fraternity brother at Pitt who started out as an engineer decided to switch to the
    restaurant business and opened Joel’s in West Cape May. Each year I stopped by to eat there I noticed
    he had put on some weight since the previous year. Unfortunately that is what did him in and he passed away on a Palm Sunday quite a few years ago. Since then the restaurant has changed owners several times but I go back every year I get to Cape May because it is a great place
    to go for lunch. Cape May probably has the best restaurants in New Jersey starting with the Lobster
    House after you cross the bridge. The movie Going Home was partially filmed in Cape May and I
    watched one scene being shot in an Exxon station that is no longer there.

  4. Jane Faris
    November 18, 2021 / 2:37 am

    I very much enjoy your blog posts, John!
    Your writing reveals a great depth of feeling
    and conviction about the needs of Mother Earth
    and her inhabitants. Keep on keeping on!
    Jane Faris

    • November 18, 2021 / 9:51 am

      Jane, How nice it is to hear from you and read your comments. I sincerely appreciate that you are reading and enjoying my writing. Suzanne and I miss you and Ralph and need to plan a get-together soon.