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#495: Big Attitude in a Small Town

Sunday, June 26, 2011

His name is Santiago. He looks to be about 45 but could easily be 10-15 years older. He works as a cook/server/busboy/greeter in a small dining room in a small hotel in a small town.

Every morning he arises in the wee hours when the guests are asleep in order to prepare scrambled eggs, sausage, bagels, pastries, cereal, milk, juice and coffee for the earliest arrivals at 6:30 a.m. With a genuine smile and a hearty hello, he greets every guest and asks, "Would you like a hot waffle today, my friend?"

The tables have been set with place mats, salt, pepper and syrup. The aromas tantalize even the sleepiest of the hungry. Complimentary copies of the day's newspaper await those awake enough to read. The large screen TV on the wall is tuned to the day's weather and news.

"Good morning, my friends," he greets new arrivals. "Would you like a waffle again this morning?" His memory is remarkable. As I stumbled in, sure my eyes were closed and I was moving by rote, I heard, "Lou, my new friend, good morning to you. How are you today?"

It was hard not to smile and return the warm greeting. "Santiago, how are you today?" "I am fine. It is a great morning, isn't it?" "I'm sure it is," I reply, "but will be even better after some coffee and orange juice and some of your delicious breakfast." He beams and shows me to a table then turns to greet the next guests. He knows not to ask me about waffles; he knows I am not a waffle person.

I gather a plate and fill it, savoring the smells and feeling my heart and my spirit being blessed by this man whose bountiful energy and good humor set the stage for our days. I sip the coffee and juice and eat, perusing the paper and watching the TV news all the while noticing the positive reaction Santiago has on even the grumpiest of guests.

As I finish, he rushes over to clear my plate but I tell him, "That's okay. I'll get it. Save your energy." "Oh, I have very much energy, very much, because I have all of you to make breakfast for." He smiles and takes away the plate.

I just shake my head. I am not a morning person, more of a grunt, groan, is it morning already type of person. I wondered how he does it. And for more than 22 years he tells me.

I fold a tip and offer it to him as we shake hands. "Thank you Santiago. Another good breakfast." He beams, bows slightly, and smiles a smile that radiates happiness. "And you have a successful day, my friend."

As I turn to leave I hear the familiar refrain, "Good morning, good morning, would you like a hot waffle this morning?" as two other guests arrive.

I smile and leave, knowing this man has shown me and the others that happiness does not lie in having a high-powered job with a huge company in a large city. What Santiago shows us is that true happiness comes from being content in our circumstances and in serving others.

If you're ever in the town of Stuart, south of Vero Beach, on Florida's southeast coast and stay at the Clarion Hotel, whether you are a morning person or not, set your alarm and head for the dining room to meet one of the happiest people I have had the pleasure of knowing.

You will be greeted with a warm smile and a hearty, "Good morning, my friend. Would you like a waffle this fine morning?"
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    lovely story. It's wonderful to hear of people like Santiago.
    3522 days ago
    Sounds really nice!!! Nice blog!!

    3533 days ago
    What a wonderful story! Oh, that we all could be like Santiago! The world is so much richer because of people like him!

    Lou, to all of us, you ARE a Santiago!

    3533 days ago
    Thanks for sharing this story with us Lou. I have been to Vero Beach & Stuart... I am sorry that I didn't get to meet your Santiago... If I am ever back, I will absolutely go visit this TREASURE! Love ya, Dawn emoticon emoticon
    3534 days ago
    Your day is enriched because you are noticing and appreciating all that Santiago is.

    Thanks for sharing him with us.

    3535 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5178852
    Oh Lou, I am such a waffle person... and a morning person too! Heee, heee

    I made waffles tonight because I was eating alone, so you really had me smiling-- just like Santiago.

    I'm glad you remembered his name because many would just expect the service and ignore the person. (SOOOO wrong)

    My mom was not a morning person but dad was (is) and it was a comedy act to watch them sort of interact each morning.


    3535 days ago
  • ERIKO1908
    Santiago can be a lesson to us all!! I really appreciate that you shared your story with us. I had an experience like that today as I came home from Yoga Meets Dance class after a long day...

    There was a little girl (maybe age 10) sitting out on the park bench outside of my apartment building. She smiled the biggest smile at me and said "hello". I asked her if she was waiting on somebody & she said "nope" (still smiling). I said, just hanging out...she said "yep" (still smiling). I replied telling her to have fun...and she said..."I hope you have a wonderful evening!" (still smiling)...and to my "you too" she said "Thanks!!" still with a smile on her face...it bumped my mood up that much more to have had that interaction tonight...wonderful how that works...

    God Bless the Santiago's in our lives!!
    3535 days ago
    Beautifully written about a beautiful person. awesome! Make him a copy and leave it next time.
    3535 days ago
    how wonderful! thank you for sharing!
    3535 days ago
  • LESLIES537
    I would love to start out my day with a greeting from Santiago! Such positivity! Wouldn't it just make his day to receive a copy of this?! ;) Awesome blog!
    3535 days ago
  • no profile photo CD6400103
    what a treasure he is!
    3536 days ago
    Love this blog...thanks!
    3536 days ago
  • BOVEY63
    Thanks for sharing! Santiago is a blessing to all he greets.

    My first stop in the morning is the post office and it always makes my day when someone greets me with a smile or a "Good Morning."

    Have a great day my friend!
    3536 days ago
    What a blessing Santiago is! He has a gift of hospitality that I wish I had, grump that I am. emoticon
    3536 days ago
  • TEMPEST272002
    Thanks for sharing your experience with Santiago. Happiness comes from within & spreads outwards. Santiago is a great example of that.
    3536 days ago
    Beautiful...just beautiful! Thank you for sharing this story! It made me smile this morning.
    3536 days ago
    Lou, this is a great, great story! Thank you for sharing it! emoticon emoticon
    3536 days ago
  • TEDYBEAR2838
    Thanks for that Lou
    3536 days ago
  • no profile photo CD8301081
    What an amazing story Lou. What a blessing this evening. Thanks for sharing. emoticon
    3536 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this great story of Santiago!! If I am ever in the area, I will definitely stop in and have a waffle!!! What a great testimony to a super guy with a wonderful attitude!!!
    Thanks, Lou!!!
    3536 days ago
    I, too, am a grunt, groan, is it morning type person. lol Love the description!! I absolutely love people who are happy in their life's work. They make the whole world a bright place. God bless Santiago! And God bless you for sharing him with us!
    3536 days ago
    What a wonderful man Santiago is. Thank you for sharing about him, I'm sure people will stop by just because of your blog, Lou. I, too, am NOT a morning person; I share your "is it morning already?" comment! : )

    God bless you
    3536 days ago
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