Ready Or Not…Here I Was!

I’ve been experiencing a huge amount of nostalgia lately. My daughter is graduating this year (yes, I’m a proud Papa). The time in which she leaves the realm of hall passes and excused absences to continue her pursuit of academic achievement and/or career path is becoming more and more real to me. We went to a Chinese restaurant on Friday that we as a family have frequented for over 15 years. They have watched our daughter grow up since she was 3 years old, and we have enjoyed the food that they have prepared and the smiles of the owners.

The first time we went to this restaurant was to meet a friend who enjoyed the restaurant. As we are a pretty picky family when it comes to food, we went with a little hesitation. We generally don’t stray far from the normal 3 to 4 standby restaurants that we frequented. To our surprise, we had a great meal and found that the next time the mood hit us for egg rolls, we were back to China Dynasty. What had us back the next week, and approximately 10 to 20 times a year since then, has been restaurant owner Joe and his wife, Mae. They are wonderful people, better even than the food (which is no small feat since the food is fantastic.)

Please understand that for over the past 8 years, I’ve eaten at restaurants all over the country. I’ve even eaten in the so-called Chinese sections of some pretty large cities. From large chain restaurants to mom and pop out of the way, hole-in the-wall places, I’ve yet to find better than Joe’s place.

Every time we come in the door, Mae’s voice rings out from inside the restaurant with her accented “Hiiiiiiiiiiii” and the hugs and waves start. They even attempted to teach my daughter her how to use chopsticks, a skill she has since mastered, by giving her some Hello Kitty™ chopsticks early on. When my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary, Joe made amazing bird sculptures from fruit and presented it with candles. (If I don’t stop these memories I’ll write a book, not a blog!)

This weekend’s trip down memory lane has me wondering what my legacy is for the residents I’ve served. I remember some of the residents who lived at the properties where I worked: Miss Evelyn, who’s arthritis therapy had her baking and giving away a loaf of bread daily. Mr. Bob, who since his military retirement would sit for countless hours on his deck and keep an eye on the property. Mrs. Ruth, who called in the first air conditioner I repaired as a Maintenance Supervisor on my first property. I remember them; how do they remember me?

As a maintenance technician, what is the legacy left behind? Do they remember that a problem occurred and someone came and took care of it? Or, do they remember that Paul came and took care of it?

It is easy to take the people part away from a service request and to focus on the broken component or malfunctioning piece of equipment. What about the person who lives where this thing is not working properly? Have I affected them positively? Did I clean up my trash? Did I respect them and their belongings? Was I empathetic and/or sympathetic when they described the issue? When I made a promise, did I follow through?

In my opinion, it is these memories that a resident remembers when they get the renewal announcement at the end of their lease. Just like when we have a hankering for some rice, I think of my little girl sitting in that booster seat fighting with the chopsticks and we head to Joe’s place.

See you somewhere,

Paul