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The mirrored elevator doors opened and the couple walked quietly past the Bellman’s stand. The Bell Captain said good morning to them and he knew their last name. He held the door to the hotel dining room for them and then returned to the stand.

He asked if I knew who the couple was and I replied that I did not. He explained that they had come to Richmond from New York to claim the body of their son and to take him home. Their son was a Richmond Police Officer who had been shot and killed during a traffic stop.

After a few minutes, the Bell Captain went into the hotel gift shop and I could see him select and pay for an assortment of newspapers. He entered the dining room and walked past the couple and without saying a word he placed the New York newspapers on the corner of their table.

Here was a Bell Captain training a Bellman in respect, compassion and so much more. How comforting this seemingly small gesture must have been to a family during their most difficult of times. The Bell Captain spoke silently for the community with a few newspapers.  A little piece of home in a faraway place.

I remember this lesson from the Bell Captain after almost forty years. I remembered it on accidents and breakdowns on the interstates when we assisted people from faraway places and at fires when a child didn’t understand that everything was gone and just wanted to be a fireman for a minute or two. I remembered it so proudly when I saw salvage and property conservation at my fires moved back from a neglected after thought to front page news.  I especially remembered what the lesson meant when the hard working Firemen brought out Bibles, pictures, money, jewelry, doll babies and pocketbooks for me to return to the home owner.  I always refused and instead watched as the Firemen became the Bell Captain for the moment and they returned a little bit of home to the table of the people who needed it. Damn they make me proud.

We are all Bell Captains. We are available when the bell rings and there is always an expectation of exceptional service when we are called. Our quiet professional service speaks for our entire community and our place of business. It also speaks for the name on our shirts and our coats.

What will people remember about our service or will it be memorable at all?

Bring sunshine to others when it looks like rain.

What if we worked for tips?

Thanks for reading, caring, and sharing.

Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

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