He had to stoop down to see me, but he did. A tall man, he had to look by the 'sneeze guard' to see me sitting in my chair.
I was placing an order for an omlette at one of those breakfast buffet things that hotels have. The guy cooking the omlette was quite chatty as he took my order and began working on a personallized breakfast for me. Turns out he's only there for one more morning and then is moving down to the grill for the summer. The hotel is right on the beach in Orange Beach and I said that working the outside grill would be awesome. He agreed.
He said that for 7 years he'd worked as a night chef and didn't get much of a chance to meet the guests and he enjoys working in areas where he can meet the people who eat his food. "There's not much point in being in the service industry if you don't enjoy meeting the people," he said. By the time I had my breakfast a small line had formed behind me and I could hear him chatting with others as he took their orders.
A couple tables away I heard two women talking, they were both wearing the name tags given out by the conference. They had obviously got the same story from the chef but one of them was really upset. From what I gathered she was in senior management in an organization serving people with disabilities but that she had also stopped meeting the people she served.
"That damned chef," she said with a teary voice to her friend, "shows me up. I've forgotten the basics."
They chatted and I could hear resolve in her voice, I think she was going to go back and be a very different person.
Later I met her again after she'd attended one of my sessions at the conference. She told me that she'd come to the conference to hear me speak. I was flattered but said, "But you had the great good fortune of hearing what the chef had to say."
She looked embassased for a moment but I said, "Listen, we learn from whom ever is sent ... isn't there as saying something like, 'when the student is ready, the teacher appears'.
So the teacher's a chef.
As long as the lesson is learned.
Sometimes you pay to learn, other times you just need to pay attention.