“Is everyone alright?”- Robert Kennedy’s Final Words
I was sitting down to write a humorous piece on customer service, the restaurant industry and bus personnel in particular. As I hit the Google images icon the famous picture of bus boy Juan Romero cradling the just shot Sen. Robert Kennedy came alive on my screen. And the words under it were the above final quote from one of the world’s last great pacifists from a turbulent time in America’s history.
The article I planned pealed itself from my mind and the moment I relived as a four year old, the image of the selfless young man and the words of one of my heroes dominated from that moment forth.
Robert’s last words summed up his life and how he lived it. He cared for others. When he himself lay mortally wounded he wanted to know the condition of those around him. He was rewarded by God, Allah, Buddha, whomever, in those final moments as well by being attended to by a stranger who cradled him and placed his rosary in Robert’s limp hand.
A bus boy and a world leader in a moment that sent out a message that still carries as strongly as it did 44 years ago on the cover of every newspaper. That we are here for each other.
Imagine if every customer service representative in the world cared as much as that young man did that day? Imagine if every human reacted as fast and as caring as he did that day. Imagine, as another great pacifist said, “all the people living for today”. Living in the moment.
Listening. Hearing. Engaging.
That bus boy, Juan, was there to do a job that night. He was there to bus his tables, work hard for his tips and create an experience for the dinners and guests at the Senators speech. His job that night was also to be a lasting image in history of going beyond the call of duty and answer the call of being human.
In every business, no matter what it is; restaurant, office, clothing shop, pet store, etc…There is a Juan.
In every human heart, there is a Juan.
Recently Juan, under a soft blue sky, with fall colors exploding across the velvety slopes of the cemetery that was the final resting place of Robert Kennedy, Juan wore a suit for the first time in his life. He said it was the proper way to show his respect for a man whose memory he has tried to honor by living a life of tolerance and humility.
May we all take away the same lesson from these two men's first and final meeting.
Let there be Peace. Let there be tolerance.
“Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world.”- RFK, April, 4th 1968 upon hearing of MLK’s assassination