Highlight of My Working Life

Tonight while I was finishing up teaching a lovely group of young women in Raliegh how to play Mah Jongg we got to talking about all the careers I have had. They asked me if I like teaching Mah Jongg best. “It is right close to the top,” I told them. I followed up with the story about the true highlight of my career that I am certain will never be surpassed.

In 1995/96 I got to run a program for BT, advertising Friends and Family in the UK. We created an ad campaign called the Friends and Family reunions. Once a month for a year we randomly picked one person who won an all expenses paid trip to a fabulous location and they got to take 29 of their friends and family with them.

This story I told the women who were sitting at the table tonight was of the family who won the trip to South Africa. They were a lovely couple from Canterbury who had four children, 14, twins 8 and a new baby. This was the biggest thing to ever happen for this family. The father was a car mechanic and they lived in a tiny house, which I visited the day after calling them to tell them they had won. They had never been on a vacation in their whole marriage so this was a big deal.

When the mother was packing for the trip she called me at my London office to ask me if they needed to bring towels. I was taking them to the Palace Hotel in Sun City and I promised her we would have plenty of towels.

I had one suite for the parents and the baby with an adjoining suite for the twins and the older sister. In the kids suite I had the mini-bar stocked only with kid friendly items.

After the long overnight flight from London I went to their suites to see how they were. One of the twins Nigel opened the door to his room. I asked him what he thought? He looked a little worried and said to me, “Dana, someone left their soda in our room.”

Having never been to a hotel or anywhere, I knew he had no idea what a minibar was. I told him, “Nigel, that soda and all the snacks and juice are for you and your sisters. You can have whatever your mother says you can have. Don’t worry about saving it because they will restock it everyday. It’s free for you.”

Without missing a beat Nigel then said to me, “Dana, would you like a soda?”

It was all I could do not to burst into tears right then. This sweet boy, who lived an incredibly modest life thought of me before himself. I thanked him so much and declined his offer, but told him I was looking forward to spending the week with him showing him all the exciting things we has going to see in South Africa.

That one encounter that happened so many years go still stands as the very best moment of my working life.

As I told this story tonight the three women I was telling it to all teared up. They asked me if I knew where Nigel was and I said, no. We all agreed he probably is still an incredible person.

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