Somewhere in North Carolina. Morningtime. I heard loud salsa music in our hotel hallway. I could hear it through the walls, rattling all 12 of my molars. I exited our room to see a girl outside one of the open rooms. She was maybe 11 or 12. Bronze skin, eyes the color of Folgers. She wore ratty clothes and her shoes were old. She was vacuuming, singing with the music.
“Morning,” she said as I walked by.
“Hi,” I said, speaking over the din of the Tijuana Brass.
Inside the open room was another maid, older, wearing a gray hotel uniform. The woman barked something at the child in Español. I had no idea what the woman was saying, but I know the tone of an aggravated mom when I hear one.
“Turn it down!” the woman finally said in broken English.
The girl ignored her mother and turned to me. “Do you have everything you need, sir?”
I nodded. “I’m good, thank you.”
“Is the music too loud?” the mother asked me point-blankly.
The girl looked at me. The mother looked at me.
I felt like was about to be be executed.
“No,” I lied. “It’s not loud.”
I bid them goodbye as they argued in rapid-fire Spanish behind me.
I walked through the hotel hallway, on my way to peruse the dregs on the continental breakfast buffet. I was hoping to find at least one strip of bacon that wasn’t the same grit and texture of a Goodyear all-season tire.
On my way, I passed the hotel’s laundry facility. I could feel the humid heat blasting from an open doorway. The industrial machinery was churning loudly. Latino music was blaring from this room also.
Inside the laundry room were four or five young maids, cramming a few metric tons’ worth of bedsheets into washing machines. Two of the women were dancing while working. Others were singing along.
“Y el corazón!
“Y el corazón!
“No tiene cara!”
When they noticed me watching, they all laughed. Then a woman spoke to me in broken English and said, “Joo have everything joo need, sir?”
“I’m good,” I said. “Thank you.”
This pleased her. Before I walked away, they all went back to doing the Cha-Cha Slide.
When I got to the dining room, an elderly Latina woman was clearing the remains of the alleged breakfast buffet. Breakfast was over, and she was —surprise—listening to peppy music.
The woman was gray and bent, sort of bobbing her ancient hips in time with the music. When she saw me, she spoke with a thick accent. “You no eat a breakfast yet, señor?”
“No, ma’am,” I said. “I no eat a breakfast.”
She smiled her tooth at me.
“Wait here,” she said. “I get you some.”
With that, the woman found a plate and wandered back into the kitchen. She piled my plate high. The mound of eggs alone could have interfered with commercial air traffic. Before I left, the woman popped the famous question of the day:
“You have everything you need, sir?”
I nodded. “Sí,” said I, thereby exhausting my knowledge of the Spanish idiom.
On my way back to my room, I deboarded the elevator and passed the little girl again. She was still vacuuming, still listening to her music at a nuclear volume. When her mother saw me coming down the hall she made an observation.
“How’re you gonna eat your food, sir?”
I was a little confused. “I’m sorry?”
She nodded to the plate in my hands. “Where’s your fork and knife?”
The woman had a point. I had forgotten my utensils downstairs.
The woman barked at her daughter. The girl rolled her eyes and reached into her janitorial cart to remove plastic-wrapped utensils and a few napkins.
“Here,” she said with a smile.
And I could feel it coming.
“You have everything you need, sir?” the girl’s mother said.
And I think this is when it finally hit me. The cheerful maids had been asking me this seemingly simple question all morning, and I had been answering them like a big dumb Norte Americano hotel guest, thinking we were talking about tiny shampoos and fresh towels.
But the woman’s words struck me differently this time. Somewhere deep inside myself I realized that, yes, even though life isn’t perfect; even though the act of living will break your heart; even though life kicks your teeth in and bills you for the damage; yes, just for today, I have everything I need.
“I’m good,” I answered the woman. “What about you, do you have everything YOU need?”
She laughed once. “I need nothing, sir,” she said. She nodded to her daughter. “I already have everything.”
Dear God, when I die, let me come back as a Latina woman.
Debbie g - April 10, 2022 7:13 am
Oh I love this!!! I have everything I need too including you Sean!! Love to all
Debbie - April 10, 2022 7:49 am
🤗 I love it!
oldlibrariansshelf - April 10, 2022 9:25 am
The older I get and the more I can afford the stuff of the world, the more I realize that I would be much happier if I learned to travel light (and be light-hearted as you perceived in your Latina ladies). Thanks for the reminder on this holy day of Holy Week, Sean.
Naomi Smith - April 10, 2022 10:23 am
Like many in our country, I have all I need. May we, with a cheerful heart, be thankful for what we have.
Thank you for so sweetly pointing out how we sometimes miss the important part of what we need.
Ernesto - April 10, 2022 11:32 am
Molly - April 10, 2022 12:00 pm
Love it! Love you! Love your way with words! I,too,have all I need!
Pam Williams - April 10, 2022 12:17 pm
beachdreamer - April 10, 2022 12:18 pm
Ditto what Naomi said! We sometimes miss the point…thank you Sean, for your words of wisdom. Ditto, too, the words of the Librarian. At 86, have finally learned that less is better! Most of our life, we struggle to get what we think we need…stuff…then discover most of it wasn’t needed, or really wanted….just more clutter to have to deal with. Time is what’s important, and using it wisely. Oh, to have known this those many years ago! But never too late, as they say😊. God bless you❣️
Russell Moulton - April 10, 2022 11:56 pm
What beachdreamer said
Ruth Mitchell - April 10, 2022 12:57 pm
Your story was “everything I need” to start another blessed day. Thank you for taking the time to understand the people you encounter.
Suzanne Cahill - April 10, 2022 1:09 pm
I love this story in ways I can’t even explain. Thank you for being such a good human, Sean. We are all heaven’s children regardless of the language we speak.
Kate - April 10, 2022 2:26 pm
Sean, as always thanks for the reminder to be thankful.
Sharron - April 10, 2022 2:47 pm
Your outlook on life, if it is a positive outlook is truly what we each need daily. Happy is contagious. Spread the Happy! Thank you Sean for always seeing and expressing the obvious which is so easy to miss as we each go through our busy days. Si, tengo todo que es necesito! Gracias.
CHARALEEN WRIGHT - April 10, 2022 4:17 pm
imcdbw - April 10, 2022 4:35 pm
Love, love, LOVE this! I burst into tears with this one, Sean. (Not unusual for me regarding your columns, I know). Gratitude and thanksgiving! God is so good! Even on the first anniversary of the worst day of my life—losing my husband—God is SO GOOD!
Christina - April 10, 2022 5:14 pm
Yo también, Sean!
Robert - April 10, 2022 6:03 pm
Thanks. That’s a good word.
Kathleen Stevenson - April 10, 2022 7:04 pm
Wonderful story and wonderful truth. If we really take time to look we do have everything we need.
Linda Moon - April 10, 2022 7:05 pm
Folgers is a good color with a good taste, too. I had some of the “life isn’t perfect” realizations yesterday. And I’d like to be just like the Latina woman you told us about….now, before I die.
Cheryl Andrews - April 10, 2022 7:19 pm
Wonderful! I have everything I need, as well! Thank you for this!
Sharon Wichmann - April 10, 2022 7:21 pm
Amazing. Tell me, have you talked to your local US Representative or Senator lately about your views? I hope they would appreciate them as much as I do.
Becky+Souders - April 10, 2022 8:02 pm
What a great idea! …. a Latina woman! That must be heaven.
Patricia Gibson - April 10, 2022 8:44 pm
Great story ❤️
AlaRedClayGirl - April 10, 2022 9:52 pm
I came across this quote once and thought is was good: “The man who knows when enough is enough, will always have enough.” May we always recognize when we have “enough”.
Peggy - April 10, 2022 10:18 pm
As I am sitting at my beautiful oak dining table, well fed and watered but feeling a bit melancholy and sorry for myself….and then I read your story for today and realize….I’m good, I have what I need. God is good to me All The Time! Thanks for the reminder Sean!
Melanie - April 10, 2022 11:30 pm
Amen to that, Sean! I wish I knew their secret. Wonderful piece. Thank you for writing.
Susie Flick - April 11, 2022 1:49 pm
Thank you for helping us all realize “we have everything we need.”…I am blessed indeed!
Tammy S. - April 11, 2022 2:06 pm
❤️ Love this!!
Brenda Turner-Griffin - April 11, 2022 3:40 pm
A day late reading your April 10 column. It was my 74th birthday and I was happily reading birthday wishes on Facebook, e-mail and phone messages. I’m catching up today. In response to your April 11 column, I think you are a great writer and have a gift for making me laugh, cry and appreciate my many blessings. Anyone who has the courage and desire to share their thoughts and musings with others deserves praise not condemnation. I will never waste my time trying to make someone else feel bad about sharing their gifts. Keep writing and delete or shred the negative comments! Thanks for being exactly who you are!
Chasity Davis Ritter - April 11, 2022 11:29 pm
It’s a beautiful spring day outside (the wind having finally calmed itself to just a breeze today) so we decided to go to the lake a walk around a bit. I kept an eye out for snakes and photo opportunities while my daughter walked wit a permanent bend looking at shells and rocks and twigs hoping to come across some sort of treasure among the flotsam. She ended up a golf ball I assume from the course nearby and a few cool looking shark tooth wannabe rocks and I found a Penny (hello Dad) but I also had a moment Of sitting still and watching here thinking that yes, I too have everything I need 💚
Susan - April 12, 2022 3:03 am
I love how you see the world around you😊
Pam Martin - April 12, 2022 3:27 am
I LOVE you Sean Dietrich