Sunday, September 27, 2009

Being Inspired by Others

My favorite breakfast nook, minutes from my house, is in a rather posh area and the cars that fill the parking lot are usually top of the line: Ferrari's, G-wagons, Corvettes, Mercedes 550's and BMW 760's aplenty. As it is a crisp fall morning here in Michigan, there were no usual convertibles in the lot. But the cars still shined. My Ford doesn't fit in with the bunch. But I don't care.

As I sat there reading and taking notes on my writing the day before, I spilled a bit of water on the table and needed more napkins. I rushed to remove my notebook and BlackBerry. I looked for my waitress but did not readily see her. As a busboy passed, I nabbed him.

"Excuse me, can you please get me some extra napkins?"
"Absolutely, it will be my pleasure."

Wow! This kid's response took me aback. He was intelligent, gentlemanly, and beautiful. This kind of response in the manner in which it was rendered is typically given at fine dining restaurants and sometimes not even there. I smiled as he hurriedly walked off returning in second with the napkins.

"Here you are, ma'am"
"Thank you."
"Pleasure. Have a nice day."
"Same to you."

As he walked away I could not help but love this kid. He was not my server but he had such a spirit of service and performed this task with such elegance and grace. Normally, I have cash on me for such occasions, but today I hadn't even a penny. When I got to the cashier I complimented the busboy and asked if he was new. I had not seen him before. He wasn't new. He just worked the later shift. I go first thing most mornings to avoid the long line.

I asked if I could leave a tip for him in my bill. But I knew I couldn't, as I had tried to do this before with a particularly cheerful greeter. I thanked the cashier and left. As I got in my car, I had this nagging feeling. I forsook it and preceded home. But the nagging wouldn't subside. I turned around, heading for my bank which isn't that far from the restaurant. When I got to the ATM I wondered how much to withdraw for the busboy. I wanted it to be enough to encourage him and not too much to over indulge him. I decided on a figure rather on the hefty side. I was at peace with this amount.

Re-entering the restaurant I asked if I might speak to the busboy if he wasn't too busy. I was told that he was clearing a table at the moment but would be finished soon. I could see him. As he finished I asked if I could just pop over and speak to him. It wouldn't take long. If I have a nagging feeling it's usually because I need to do or say something or both. This time I felt I needed to do both. I walked up to the well-spoken young man.

"I just want to thank you for your excellent service today."
"You're welcome, ma'am."
"What school do you attend," I asked thinking that he was going to say one of the schools nearby?
"I went to Kettering."
I couldn't believe it. This kid's school is in one of the very worst neighborhoods in Detroit.
I smiled.
"Great. When did you graduate?"
"I just graduated and I go to Wayne County Community College. I wanted to go to Eastern, but I didn't have the money."
"I used to teach at Oakland County Community College."
"You did," he said with excitement!
"Yes. Keep at it. A good friend of mine, Dr. June Ridley, taught psychology at WCCC's main campus for years and is still very active in student development. She was also an original member of BAM at the University of Michigan where she got her PhD in the early 70's."
I always try to give young people a bit of history.
"I see you're wearing your Michigan cap and jersey. Did you to Michigan?"
"Yes," I said but continued with my purpose. "Another good friend, Judith Doss, was an owner of the Motor City Casino. She now runs a foundation that assists young people with college scholarships in Detroit."
"What's your name," he asked?
"Another Judith?"
"It's a good name," I said smiling. There was a saddness in his eyes. "I'll be in touch."
"It will be good to see you again."
"You will. Let's see how we can get you in Eastern next year."
"I'm working two jobs so I can afford it."
"I'm going to see what we can do too. You are a wonderful young man."
I pressed the money into his hand.
"Oh, thank you so very much ma'am."
"You're welcome. And you can call me Judith."
"You're a wonderful lady, Judith."
"It's my pleasure and I'll be in touch. What's your name?"

As I left Damon I could not help but to think of the words of Jesus, "I am among you as one who serves." If he had not been a servant this morning, I might not have recognized him.


John O'Leary said...

Wow, WHAT a cool story! I need to do more of that myself. VERY inspiring.

miss alaineus said...

as i sit cutting progress report grades, this reminds me exactly why i do what i do.


Judith Ellis said...

John - This kid was incredibly beautiful to me. Here he was working two jobs, in school, and remained positive and respectful. I can only imagine that life in that neighborhood can't be all good. He was my inspiration this morning.

Judith Ellis said...

Dearest Alaina,

I honor you.

With love,


septembermom said...

Judith, a beautiful exchange between two human beings full of respect, admiration and good will. This is the kind of world that I want my children to frequent. This young man will do amazing things, I'm sure. Judith, you are wonderfully attentive to others in your life. I wish more and more people embraced life the way you do.

I send you much love and respect.

Judith Ellis said...

Thank you, Kelly, for your kind words and for your encouragement too. With much love and kindness I embrace you.

Brosreview said...

You know, there are quite a few times, I feel like doing what you just narrated, but I do not. It is either the lack of time or something. But, from now on, I must make sure to acknowledge, probably more than acknowledge a good gesture.

By conveying such stories to us, you become our inspiration Judith.

Thanks for sharing!

Judith Ellis said...

Ajey, my young thoughtful talented friend, I know that you will do more and more what's in your heart to do. You inspire me. "With long life I will satisfy you and show you My salvation."

Corrie Howe said...

I like to leave personal notes on scrap pieces of paper for wait staff. The other night I did this and the young lady came back in tears. She shared how she had a really tough day and how the note made her day. Also how the note helped her with her boss.

Judith Ellis said...

That's beautiful, Corrie. May God bless you abundantly.

Dave Wheeler said...

Auntie "J"...

I always say you're the best! Because you most definitely are. You touched more than one life today.

Did I mention you're the best my friend? Because if I didn' are!

Judith Ellis said...

Thank you Dave, my dear friend. Your words made me smile.

John O'Leary said...

Corrie, great idea! I will start doing the same.

Judith, you're going to turn us all into philanthropists.

Judith Ellis said...

Wouldn't that be great, John?!

John O'Leary said...

All I lack at this point is the money. :-)

Judith Ellis said...

Smiles galore over here, John.