This hotel does an okay breakfast. Not great. But edible. If you don’t mind eating, for example, linoleum.

The hotel’s flagship dish is a premade omelet that looks and tastes like industrial plastic. The biscuits are hockey pucks. The gravy is not unlike commercial adhesive. And the sausage—I know from experience—will turn your bowels into stone.

This morning, the lobby is full of people waiting to eat. Everyone is hungry. Everyone is fussy. They are grumbling and murmuring like the Children of Israel. I am among them.

We come from all walks.

There is a girl’s softball team, clad in uniforms. There is a group of workmen, wearing neon vests and boots; they look like they could eat a whole cow.

There is a gaggle of business guys in nice suits, dragging roller bags. These men are constantly thumbing away on their phones, wearing Bluetooth earbuds, and having animated conversations with invisible people.

A group of young men in ultra-tight cycling attire, wearing jerseys covered in corporate logos even though nobody pays these people to ride their $32,000 cycles.

And there are three Mennonite families, dressed in dark colors and modest clothing.

Enter Carolyn.

Our entire dining room experience is managed by one woman. She is a meek woman. Older. The mother of six. She lives in North Alabama. She drives 45 minutes to work every morning. She works doubles shifts most days.

After she works the breakfast shift, she cleans rooms and does laundry. She makes her living cleans up our mess.

Carolyn is a woman who looks like your grandmother. Sweet face. Small stature. Slightly bent from the decades of hard work.

She sees the crowd of people waiting in line for breakfast, and she realizes that this is all her fault. She is behind schedule this morning because her daughter is pregnant, and Carolyn was at the ER all night with her daughter, making sure the baby was okay.

This morning, Carolyn is no match for us, the multiplying herd of angry customers. She is in the weeds. She has nobody to help her. And this morning’s crowd of hungry water buffalos just keeps getting bigger.

And that’s when it happens.

A young woman from the Mennonite family notices that Carolyn is having trouble. She approaches Carolyn.

“Ma’am,” asks the girl, who is probably 14 years old, “is there anything I can do to help you?”

The 14-year-old girl is soon joined by several younger girls who also want to help. These girls are maybe 8 and 9 years old. All Mennoninte. All dressed in dark colors and simple fashions.

“I could use some help,” says Carolyn. “Yes, please.”

The little girls move into the kitchen like a small army. The girls have soon taken over the kitchen. In a few moments, 8- and 9-year-olds are carrying steaming hotel pans of sausage, eggs, and gravy.

Then the girls’ mothers get involved.

Soon, the whole dining room is being tended by Mennonite women, who are refilling coffee urns, taking dirty plates, sweeping floors, and stocking the buffet.

The mass of hotel customers courses through the food-line like a military offensive operation. They wipe out the whole buffet. But the Mennonite women are not fazed. They keep restocking. All the customers are satisfied.

And when breakfast is over, the Mennonite women are cleaning tables, polishing floors, and washing dishes. After a while, the dining room is vacant. And only a few young Mennonite women are left, wiping down tables and taking out the trash.

That’s when it occurs to me.

The Mennonite family has not yet eaten. They have worked. They have waited on everyone else. But they have not eaten themselves.

Carolyn realizes this and apologizes profusely. She is so embarrassed. The hotel is slap out of food.

“I am so sorry,” she says.

The Mennonite women shower Carolyn with “don’t-worry-about-its and it’s-okays, and they tell her “We’ll just go get breakfast somewhere else.”

Carolyn walks into the dining room and looks around. The room looks spotless.

“I don’t know how to say thank you,” Carolyn says to the 14-year-old.

“And you’ll never have to,” says the girl.


  1. Mac - May 25, 2023 12:18 pm

    Clearly people who walk the talk of their faith! What a wonderful example of Godly love and service!

  2. beckybelle - May 25, 2023 1:47 pm

    Angels in disguise…

  3. pattymack43 - May 25, 2023 5:16 pm

    ❤️❤️❤️. Thank you one and all!! And thanks to you, Sean, for the reminder! Blessings!!

  4. JeninTen - May 25, 2023 6:47 pm

    Love this story. Such an inspiration to stop grumbling and help serve, without expecting anything in return. Thank you for testifying to this act of love.


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