By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
In the late ‘80s, I experienced something I would never wish on anyone: divorce. In addition to that, I was now raising two kids on my own. Anyone that has experienced the one-two punch of a shattered relationship and then limping through single parenthood will tell you that it ain’t no picnic. Now, to be fair and faithful to thank God for all His provision in those years, I had a remarkable support team comprised of members of my church as well as neighbors. People took care of my kids and didn’t charge for it. People donated everything from cars to secretly paying for tuition for Christian School and my children got to go to summer camp on scholarships. We were even given an Arabian gelding along with the free use of 36 acres upon which he was boarded, and I experienced the power of equine therapy in no uncertain terms. It was the best of times as far as the kindness of friends, family, and strangers; it was the worst of times as far as having a broken heart was concerned. When I married in 1976, I married for keeps, and now as a divorced person I felt like I was living on another planet, a desolate one.
The story I am about to tell is so simple that I have little confidence that I will find the words that adequately describe the power of a kind act. To this day it brings grateful tears to my eyes. I spent 14 years working at a 5-star convention hotel in Seattle. I waited on everyone from the homeless to celebrities to sports stars to heads of state. This hotel was a joy in which to work—somehow it was free of much of the drama that shows up in the hospitality industry, and I enjoyed my work and my co-workers. There were no meat cleaver throwing chefs, very few prima donnas, and a staff that was very much (pardon the cliché) like family.
One such man was a steward by the name of Jorge. In hotel parlance, the stewards basically were dishwashers. They assembled the necessary tableware, silverware, and glassware to set up for thousands, and we would bring back the dirty dishes to them by the six-tier cartload. Jorge was Hispanic, very rarely spoke, but was a hard worker, had a quiet gentleness that was unwavering, and he was invariably kind.
In preparing for a banquet, various responsibilities are always given in addition to setting the tables, and this particular day I had to do butters and creamers for 400. The room had been set with 40 round tables of 10, and there needed to be two small plates of butter balls per table and two silver creamers per table as well. I had assembled what I needed to complete my assignment and was working by myself at the end of a long steel prep table. That day being a divorced single mom was weighing on me heavily. Jorge came through the double doors of the kitchen and started to walk by me to the dishwashing area. Then he stopped, came over to the other side of the table and opened one quart size carton of half and half for me. He smiled slightly and then went back to the dish room.
Now mind you, I hadn’t been struggling with a heavy or awkward piece of equipment. My assignment was not a tough one, and we were not under a lot of time pressure to get the room ready. But I think somehow Jorge, the good steward, knew I was struggling and just wanted to appropriately let me know that I wasn’t alone. It was a simple, silent act of kindness for which I am thankful to this day. What is the point of this Point? Don’t ever get to the place where you are too big for your britches and lose your ability to be like Jorge, the good steward. You just may be remembered for it for decades afterward.