Let me tell you about my co-worker Jay.
His job is to convince people to hold their meetings, conventions and tournaments here in Calhoun County. Once he does that, he makes sure to smooth the way by taking care of the nitty-gritty details, like parking and arranging for hotel rooms.
A lot of people come to Battle Creek because of Jay. Take last month’s volleyball tournament, for instance. There were 15 teams from out of town and almost 10 of those teams stayed overnight in a hotel.
For me, the defining Jay moment was when we were leaving an event at Kellogg Arena, heading back to the office. He saw a shuttle bus parked on the road and excused himself. He wanted to personally thank the driver.
There are no strangers for Jay, his wife told me on Saturday.
They had agreed to help me out by making s’mores at Kitchen Proper so I could take promotional photos. It’s impossible to simultaneously make a gooey mess and use a camera.
Kitchen Proper has set up a fun outdoor space, with heaters, a fire pit and a family dining table with a built-in fireplace. Tarps protect patrons from wind.
But Jay and Bree were cute, as they roasted marshmallows and shared hot drinks. There was a good campfire smell, mixed with the spiciness that wafted from hot buttered rum cider.
While I took photos, a family with two kids took the fireplace table. They spoke a language I didn’t recognize.
Without hesitation, Jay started to talk to them. He found out they were from Chicago and hockey fans. He wished them luck as we left. It was brief, but friendly on both sides.
I will bet you that the family won’t remember Jay exactly, but they’ll have a memory of feeling welcome.
And that’s why I admire Jay. It doesn’t matter if it’s a shuttle driver or a family of four or hundreds of fans. Battle Creek, you have an authentic ambassador in Jay.