A short time ago I had the pleasure of spending two days at a hotel in Dallas, Texas. It had nothing to do with the hotel itself, but the pleasure came from having an egg omelette with spinach, tomatoes and bell peppers prepared by a chef each morning. It was part of the included continental breakfast, so it made no sense to go and find breakfast anywhere else. And I had been toying around with various diets, from fasting until around 1100 or 1200 each day, to restricted eating which entails only eating between certain hours of the day. For these two days I decided to follow my family’s lead and order up an omelette.
And this time, eating at the hotel was different. This man, the chef, with his black skin, sparkling smile and an accent that resonated with me so very well stood out in my mind and brought so many memories to the forefront. This man came to the United States like my father before me, aspiring for a better life. He put so much love and joy into making my omelette (at least he made it appear that way), listening to my request and nailing it perfectly; not just taking the order and sprinkling a few items into the pan and then being done.
He told me he came from Ethiopia not long ago, and that he had a wife and child at home, and an older daughter in college back home because she could not get the necessary VISA needed to join the family during their immigration.
He comes to work at 0300 each morning and cooks up all the food for the hundreds of patrons that come for the free breakfast. Many of which feel that they are owed something just because they are staying in the hotel. Some of which I witnessed making a mess spilling items all about them, and then just leaving it for someone else to clean. Most of them filling up their plates and then stomachs with nothing but pastries, pancakes, and highly processed meat products, with the ability to get one plate after another, without having to interact with a SINGLE human being. Not a SINGLE one!
And yet, the omelette bar sits quietly. It gets busy at times, but not overwhelmingly so. It offers a friendly interaction with the chef, and is by far the healthiest of the available food options. But for the majority of the folks who come for the free food, the interaction with another human being, and the spinach that meets their vegetable and nutrient needs, scares them off. Only my observation of course.
And on this particular Sunday morning I felt compelled to extend my thanks to the man from Ethiopia. He provided me with a beautiful omelette with EXTRA spinach, and he commented about the sweat dripping from my brow. He actually noticed that I had worked out and he asked if I wanted EXTRA egg whites (to go with the whole eggs) to replenish the muscle breakdown that had just occurred (of course I took the EXTRA protein).
A man working for just a few dollars per hour, cooking all morning, who still took the time to notice the little things.
I returned to my room to write him a short note of thanks, with a little EXTRA surprise. I returned to the dining area and when I handed the small envelope to him the reward I received was so much more than what I had given him. It is likely the most I will ever pay for an omelette, but President Ulysses S. Grant’s image had been burning a hole in my wallet for far too long, and the smile and look in the man from Ethiopia’s eyes would do more for me than money could ever buy.
It was the EXTRA that made all the difference.
Go and do something a little EXTRA today…I know you won’t regret it. And what better way to kick-off a brand new month!