Thou shalt be called Benjamin

The author with his 8-year-old son Benjamin

The author with his 8-year-old son Benjamin

By Joseph Jerome Francia

The flight from San Diego to New York was delayed by eight hours due to bad weather. Hungry and tired, I arrived 4 a.m. at the hotel the office had booked for me.

I approached the receptionist to check in. I was told, “Sorry, we gave your room away since you did not show up last night.”

Before I could argue that it was a confirmed booking, the receptionist told me: “Don’t worry, here’s a list of our other properties. Take your pick, here’s money for a cab to get to the hotel of your choice. Please be back here at 11 a.m. Your room will be ready.”

Bleary-eyed, I pointed to The Benjamin at random. It was a nice, comfortable hotel. I slept so soundly that I woke up to the phone ringing at exactly 11a.m. The receptionist at the other hotel was calling to remind me that my room was ready.

I turned on the TV and caught an emotional moment at the US Tennis Open. There, on live TV, was one of the icons of our generation, Andre Agassi, crying. He has just lost his match and announced his retirement from professional tennis before a crowd of 23,000 that watched him play for the last time. He lost to a young player named Benjamin Becker. I felt sad for Andre — it felt like our generation’s time is over and it was time to hand over the sport to the young guns.

The Benjamin Hotel

The Benjamin Hotel

The Benjamin Hotel. Benjamin Becker.

These were in my mind as I settled into my room at the hotel where I was originally booked. I switched on the TV. “Stepmom”, the movie starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon, was playing. I had not seen the movie before. I would learn shortly that the son of Susan in the movie is named Benjamin.

Another Benjamin.

Only a few weeks earlier, Minnie and I were pleasantly surprised to learn that she was pregnant with our second child. I knew I had to text Minnie right away. Excited, I told her that even without the benefit of an ultrasound (we were still a few weeks off the scheduled check-up), I felt that we would have a son. And that, with all the signs that morning, he shall be called Benjamin.

Benjamin the Owl

Benjamin the Owl

As I was driving my daughter EllaMinnie to school this morning, I remembered this story. Counting my blessings. That was eight years ago. We indeed had a son. And we named him…Benjamin.

I have forgotten this story, until recently, when I found myself back in NYC, walking past The Benjamin. I went to the concierge and told her about our Benjamin. The concierge so liked the story that she gave me a hotel merchandise — the stuffed toy Benjamin, The Owl — as a present for Benjamin, our boy.

Broadcast executive Joseph Jerome Francia is the Vice President for International at GMA Network Inc. in Manila. He is a frequent visitor to the U.S. for business and family vacation. This essay originally appeared on the author’s Facebook wall and is being republished with permission.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: