Waking up to a rat licking your face and then stay at the JW Marriott

Posted: April 8, 2013 by Keith Townsend in Uncategorized

I had a difficult time deciding if to share this story from my late teens.  It was a transitional time for me in which I learned a lot about life and myself.  However, tonight reminded me about why it’s important to share the story.  It’s not to share how great I am or how difficult of a life I had at one point but to give hope that one kid that might come along this story and be encouraged by it.

I’m in Atlanta for work.  I’ve been in Atlanta for work every week for several months.  The hotel staff over at the JW Marriott know me by sight and name at this point.  I’m sad to say that Tomas, the bartender even knows my dessert and drink preferences.  This week is the week of the Final Four and I couldn’t get into the JW.  For consultants this can kind of become a big deal.  You spend so much time in hotels that the difference between a 5 star hotel and a 3 start hotel is a big deal.  So, when I found myself staying at a regular 3 star Marriott, I had my nose turned up a bit at the dated decor, the lack of iPod docking station in the room etc…

Then for some reason my memory shifted to the time I was staying with my brother after I got fired from Wendy’s (not a high point in my life).  I was sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor of his room when I awoke to some animal licking my face.  Now, if you have a dog or a cat you can relate to the feeling of your pet waking you up from sleep.  However, my brother didn’t have any pets which as I was waking up set off an alarm.  I opened my eyes to see a giant rat licking me.  To say I was disgusted and traumatized all in one is an understatement.

The reason, I’m sharing this extremely embarrassing  story isn’t to gross you out but to do two things.  One help me remember where I came from and where God has allowed me to go.  I need to stay grounded and grateful.  I’m just a series of unfortunate incidents from going back to that situation.  And secondly, there’s some other kid living in the ghetto in fear of the same thing or worse happening to them.  I remember my father telling me the reason why the old men walk down the alley with their pants in their boots is to stop rats from running up their pants legs.  This seemed so very hopeless.  I wondered what it would be like to not have these worries and what could I possibly do to make the type of money that would move my family out of Englewood.

Yes, I worked hard and was eventually recognized and lifted out of the situation.  But it took people taking a chance on me and sharing their life stories and giving me hope.  No one should have to live without hope.  I hope that this post finds its way to some kid in Englewood or some other city in the world and they look to the hope of complaining about staying at a “cruddy” 3 star Marriott.

  1. Christine says:

    Hi Keith. I came across your post when I did a Google search for “Growing up in Chicago” for a book I’m working on. Your rat story wasn’t exactly what I had anticipated but I was delighted with it and inspired by it. I too believe that no person should have to live without hope and that many of us are pretty spoiled.

    Have you seen the film “Life of Pi”?



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