A 21-year-old hotel worker made his best case for Employee of the Year last week when he worked 32 straight hours to take care of guests during intense flooding in the area.
While Satchel Smith typically only works one day a week at Homewood Suites by Hilton in Beaumont, Texas, to balance his time with college, he put in an extreme amount of overtime last Wednesday as rising waters caused by heavy rain disrupted travel for residents, which included his coworkers.
“I got to work about 3 p.m. Wednesday [Sept. 18] and it had been raining the whole day, but it wasn’t flooding yet,” Smith told KBMT.
Smith’s shift that day was supposed to end around 11 p.m., but the employee who was supposed to take over for him messaged him shortly before to let him know she wouldn’t be able to make it, he recalled to the news station.
Because the storm had intensified over the course of his shift, Smith and the hotel’s 90 guests were trapped inside due to flooding, according to CNN. With no one to relieve him and no one else on duty, Smith was left to man the hotel alone in a shift that would last a painstaking 32 hours.
Smith — who has worked at the hotel for a year — was on his own as fire alarms went off due to malfunctioning computer systems, and was still alone when it was time to serve breakfast the next morning.
“Then the morning came around, and I was the only one there and everyone was expecting breakfast,” Satchel told KBMT.
Though he was the only employee, serving breakfast became a team effort when one of the guests stepped in to help.
“I’d never worked in a kitchen,” he told CNN. “I’m not really a good cook.”
When it was time for dinner, Smith and a group of other guests worked together to cook chicken pasta for the entire building, and more.
“We also invited some people from other hotels to come eat because they didn’t have any food,” Smith recalled to KBMT.
Finally, another employee came to help Smith on Friday morning, but he stayed to help, only taking a brief nap before continuing to work.
One of the hotel’s guests, Angela Chandler, wrote a post on Facebook praising Smith for his tireless efforts over the course of nearly two days.
“Satchel has been here all night,” she wrote on Thursday. “His coworkers couldn’t make it to work so he stayed. He has manned the phones, answered each of our questions, ensured that we have had a hot cup of coffee or tea, and helped serve us a hot breakfast. He has handled this situation with grace, kindness, and a beautiful smile on his face.”
“Sometimes we ask ourselves why God allows things to happen but we are not designed to understand his ways. I do think that sometimes He allows things to happen so we can be His light and share the love of Christ with others,” she continued. “What an example of how to handle yourself in a crisis! Goodness gracious!”
Chandler’s post has received more than 28,000 likes and 12,000 shares on the social network.
Smith, meanwhile, had his car totaled due to the flooding, he told CNN. Thankfully, his family’s home was spared.
“Everything happens for a reason,” he said.