Life lessons are all around us, if only we pay attention to them. Last year on a 1,100-mile drive back from Florida to Maryland, I witnessed something that reminded me of a Pat Benatar concert I once worked. I’ll start with Rose at the Comfort Inn first.
I travel a lot as a seminar instructor. So, like the Bob Seger song – You can listen to the engine moaning out its one lone song most of the time. And since I stay in about 100 hotels a year, all of them look pretty much the same after a while. So it’s the people that make the difference, and this one I’ll call Rose.
This was at a basic Comfort Inn just off the Interstate highway in northern Florida. I wasn’t expecting much as I pulled in about 9 p.m. – just a good night’s sleep before I resumed my homeward journey in the morning. However, the free breakfast buffet offered a little more than I expected. The food was basic buffet ordinary, and the room was certainly clean enough, but as I entered the empty room I saw a tiny East Indian woman standing at attention in the corner. I nicknamed her Rose in my mind, even though I saw no name tag, after the real name of a very attentive waitress on a cruise ship (but that’s another story).
In this case, Rose was more than helpful getting me to a chair in front of the television, asked if I was having waffles from the little flip-griddle, then proceeded to get me coffee. Now, this wasn’t some $25 to $50 buffet at a 4-star hotel, this was a free breakfast at an interstate Comfort Inn. I was amazed. When the 3-minute beeper went off on my waffle griddle, she told me to sit and she would get it for me, and then brought me syrup and orange juice. In short, I was feeling like a king and wondered if I was getting special treatment of any sort. But no, after a bit someone else came in for breakfast and soon she was doing exactly the same thing for every other patron in the room. In short, she was giving it her best shot. I’m sure she was happy to have a job, any job, in this failing economy. And her actions and attitude showed it.
As I jumped in my Sprinter for the ride home I thought about meeting someone else 10 years earlier with a similar attitude, and one with a name I’m sure you’ll recognize (especially if you’re a baby boomer). I was doing a club gig with Pat Benatar in a little 500-seat club in Frederick, MD. Not exactly the Spectrum arena in Philadelphia, but a gig nonetheless.
Now, typically in venues this size the artist never even bothers to come off the bus for soundcheck. They send a guitar tech or road manager out to test the mics and monitors, and then ask for a 2-minute stage call. On this occasion, however, Pat Benatar was on stage for the entire soundcheck. And after the obligatory tuning and monitor check she proceeded to perform a few songs at full intensity.
So there I was, the only person standing in the room when she began to sing for me alone. After singing “Heartbreaker” she proceeded to sing “Promises in the Dark” and, finally, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” – all the time vamping and strutting on the stage for me … little old me. I know, of course, that concert goers sometimes think an artist is singing just for them, but in this case I was sure of it since I was the only person standing in the club.
I was grinning from ear to ear and nearly giddy with this most personal concert and I thought about how lucky I am to have these experiences, ones that can’t be bought. Even though this was a small concert in a tiny club, Pat was giving it 100 percent of her effort – none of that lounging on the bus or doing a few notes for a sound check and taking a break. It was a full energy concert for just one guy in the room, and what a concert it was.
So what do Pat Benatar the singer and Rose the waitress have in common? Well, even though they both had what might be considered minor jobs to do, they gave it their all. These were “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” kind of moments, with Rose being the best possible buffet waitress and Pat vamping and strutting on stage like there were 10,000 people in the room.
We can all learn a lesson from both of them. Always do the best job you can, even when it doesn’t seem important and there’s not a big crowd watching. I personally try to raise the bar at every opportunity and go for my personal best, even when I could be lazy and not try at all. That’s an attitude we can all bring to our daily lives, both for worship and for work. Rose and Pat, thanks for bringing that to my attention. Again.
Copyright Mike Sokol 2009 – All Rights Reserved
Let’s play safe out there….
Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 40 years in the industry. Visit NoShockZone.org for more electrical safety tips. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.