Lessons from a Jersey Diner
Anyone who has turned to the writings of leaders they admire, seeking to replicate their success, has surely come across advice to get a jump start on the work week. While I have also sought such pearls of wisdom, and started countless weeks by sitting down on a Sunday evening putting my goals and objectives for the coming days on paper, I must say that spending time at a Jersey City diner, at an hour when sleep should be foremost on my mind, preparing to help bring attention to a client event that begins at 11:00 p.m., is a new one for me!
It’s also a reminder of the commitment and dedication of the law enforcement community, and the incredible role they play in keeping us all safe. While most of us are tucked away safely in our beds, the men and women I will be visiting tonight spend their overnights patrolling the neighborhoods they protect, putting themselves in harm’s way, abiding by an oath they took to protect and serve countless citizens who too often have little appreciation for their efforts. These under appreciated efforts are replicated by their counterparts in law enforcement across the country, as well as other community heroes staffing firehouses, and keeping emergency rooms at the ready, prepared to respond to the direst of incidents. It is indeed an honor and a privilege to count so many of these men and women as friends and clients.
Sitting here at this hour, I marvel at the multi-cultural array of the individuals taking up the booths around me. I see a richness of diversity on the faces of my fellow diners, and overhear various conversations with a wonderful variety of accents. As many of us continue to be disturbed by efforts coming from the White House to make criminals of those who have come here to build better lives, and have, at the same time made our communities stronger, tonight’s experience is a glimpse into the reality that immigration has always been a cornerstone of the United States, and our willingness to welcome others from far away lands, offering them the opportunity to make their dreams a reality, is what has made America great.
Finally, as I see the waitstaff switch over from one shift to the next, I think about the chapter I read earlier today in Senator Cory Booker’s “United” in which he shared the story of Natasha, a young waitress, and her story of struggle to provide for her family within the confines of a low-wage job. Despite the challenges she faced, her fierce determination to support her children, while at the same time showing a tremendous understanding of the role she played as a counselor to those she brought heaping plates of food to, has further inspired Senator Booker’s already impressive commitment to public service. “The High Cost of Cheap Labor” as he skillfully articulated in the aptly titled chapter, is not only an issue that he has taken on in Washington, but one we can all work to improve by heeding his urging for us all to love more, to recognize that we rise and fall together, and to understand that our successes as a nation, and our successes as individuals, are inextricably linked.
Tonight’s time at the VIP Diner has certainly prepared me for the new week.