She had welcomed me warmly the evening before.
I arrived in Emporia -- which I kept thinking of as Euphoria --
after driving for twelve hours
through eight states
with quick stops for gas, coffee, and rest rooms.
She told me she usually worked the morning shift,
but took the night shift so she could spend Christmas morning with her kids.
She asked if I had any discounts -- AAA, AARP . . .
and when I shook my head she said, "I'll give it to you anyway . . .
and, you can have the handicapped room, with the king-sized bed,
and you won't need to walk upstairs."
At 7 am she was still there,
looking fresh and rested,
still interested in the people who arrived and departed,
still touching people's lives with care,
as she had
day by day,
for eighteen years
from behind the desk of the Best Western in Euphoria, Virginia..