I met one such person, last year in Chicago in the Marriott Residence Inn River North. The first time I met her, I thought she was high, don’t get me wrong, she was in the middle of a tough manual job – cleaning up tables; running around serving waffles and refilling food in the counter from the kitchen- yet was hyper-energetic, greeting everyone loudly and enthusiastically, always with a big smile. Having been used to quiet courteous staff in all my hotel stays in the US, she seemed a little too loud. One look around at all those faces beaming back at her was all it required to realize that there was authenticity about her guileless attitude. She was high yes, Ismeta was indeed high on life, quite in contrast to the attitude of the more privileged people she served (which includes me as well).
There was not one single day (even on days when the breakfast hall was full and the tension was at its peak), she was not her enthusiastic best. She always makes time to greet every guest by his / her first name and offers a big smile along with waffles (she makes the best waffles in the world btw), eggs or whatever that person likes for breakfast. Remembering everyone’s name itself is a big deal, putting in efforts to know their preferences and cater to them is what makes Ismeta who she is! The best employee in Marriott, US. No kidding, she won that award from the CEO of Marriott hotels in the year 2018. Evidently, she is not the kind to take a back seat after the most prestigious award possible.
Thanks to her, Breakfast started to be a much needed cheerful time in my otherwise dull days filled with more and more work. I made sure I never miss my breakfast even when I had sleepless nights and super busy mornings just to meet Ismeta. Actually, she was the one who made sure I never miss having yogurt the way I enjoy the most, with strawberries, granola and walnuts. Even on days when I was at the sourest of moods, her greetings and love made me believe in the light at the end of dark tunnels. She might have been the best employee for Marriott but to me, she was even more special, for one day when I was not too happy with my work she told me “Mama is always there for you sweetie, don’t you worry”. And like a good Mama, she ensured that I was never sent back hungry (even on days I went well after the breakfast time) and got a hug every single day. It was not the first time I heard someone tell me they are like my Mama, but coming from Ismeta just when I needed it the most meant the world to me. Nothing then was strong enough to dampen my new found enthusiasm that I contracted from my Mama, not a crappy project nor the homesickness that ensued from long hours at work.
As traveling Consultants , it’s not easy for us to stay away from families for extended periods of time and its people like Ismeta who makes the stay away from home bearable. It’s not every day we get to meet such people, forget encountering them day in and day out. Hats off to her for having made my gloomy days in Chicago tolerable and even enjoyable.
After an arduous two and a half months in Chicago when it was time for me to leave, I went to bid a teary goodbye to Ismeta and the brilliant me forgot to carry my phone along. Clicking a picture with her had never occurred to me given I was either rushing out of the breakfast hall on weekdays and rushing in after breakfast hours to grab something on weekends. And before I had completely realized it I had left Chicago without clicking a pic with her. Her bright smile is the first thing that comes to my mind when anyone asks me about my Chicago days or when I hear the mention of the Windy City. Not having her picture to show my Mama back home was one of the things I regretted about a lot.
Almost a year later just when I was wondering if I will ever get to meet her again, my colleagues were discussing a trip to nearby cities during the weekend and guess which city we finally ended up going to!
Finally, I got what I needed! A chance to meet my most favorite person in the US again and a picture to show the world who the wonderful person from Chicago, I keep talking about is 🙂
Ismeta, you are one of those rare gems making this world a bit better every day with your enthusiasm and smiles. Thank you for being you!
To more such smiles.