Recently I was at our KING AEROSPACE Commercial Corporation Ardmore, Oklahoma aircraft maintenance and modification facility for just a few hours. I drove up from our Home Office early in the day and wanted to get back on the road to Dallas by noon. I wanted to visit some friends, who are young parents and whose young children had been in and out of the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital. I asked our chef, Larry Core of JAKE’S JOINT, to let the pastry chef, Cathy Cox, know that I needed two dozen cookies to take back to Dallas with me by noon.
As planned, right at noon I was about to depart the facility. I drove on the ramp from the hangar toward the restaurant to get my cookies so I could get back to Dallas. I was on a mission and in a hurry so I decided to forego lunch. Out on the ramp, I ran into three crew members of a privately owned large corporate jet that had arrived the previous night for us to begin refurbishing. The jet is based on the other side of the world. I suspected that they had just had lunch at JAKE’S JOINT and I looked forward to what our international guests had to say. Despite being in a hurry, I stopped and introduced myself. They began raving about how wonderful and pleasantly surprised they were by the lunch they just had at JAKE’S JOINT. I shared with them that our chef is a graduate of the New York Culinary Institute of America and has opened up seventeen restaurants around the world. Prior to joining us, he was the private chef for several years to Rupert Murdoch and has worked for several other wealthy and famous people. The crew members were amazed to learn this (just like most people are) but this helped them understand why the restaurant is not just another “greasy spoon” on a remote airport. They then asked me the question that I normally get: “How did you get him?” I tell people that we found him on a chef locator website and that we convinced him that at JAKE’S JOINT he is not just cooking for a bunch of rich people but that he “is touching lives with every meal that he serves to people that appreciate him using his God given talent as part of a team that is striving to make a positive difference in the lives of others.” I also remind him on occasion that he is now working for the poorest man that he has ever worked for. I left my new friends on the ramp and got my cookies and headed to Children’s Hospital to check on my little sick friends and their worried parents.
I visited with the parents, checked on the kids and gave them the cookies. I left the hospital feeling that my mission had been completed as planned. Then, a couple of days later, I learned, as the famous radio announcer Paul Harvey would say “now for the rest of the story.” The mother of the children I visited told me that they loved the cookies but they gave most of them away. I told her that I was glad that she shared “the doctor and nurse bait” with the care providers to show her appreciation for their help. She quickly pointed out that she didn’t give them to the staff but to a family in the room next to them who had a very sick baby with a fatal disease. The family was from out of town and had lots of visitors during their time of need. She shared with me that not only did she give them the cookies but that the family with the terminally ill baby actually prayed for the recovery of the sick children I was visiting despite their own painful situation. What a blessing from one stranger to another, both on painful journeys.
I am so thankful and feel blessed that the cookies that I delivered that were overseen by a world class chef and made by a pastry chef in Ardmore, Oklahoma who is a loving grandmother were used to serve others in challenging situations. This caused me to think about all of the young military aviators that we feed each week at JAKE’S JOINT who land for fuel, a meal that is as close to home cooked as possible, and yes, cookies. I have homemade cookies available on the service counter of our fuel operation, THE LINE SHACK, at all times for them to enjoy. I would like to think that our cookies or the antique china and silverware that we use cause them to think of their mother, grandmother or families and to enjoy a few minutes of pleasure and happiness. I also hope that the women who once collected the china and silver that we use at JAKE’S JOINT are looking down, pleased to know that we appreciate their treasures and use them daily.
Who would ever think that cookies could be so special? When created with love and passion, they become special. I am blessed to be associated with lots of special people. Regardless of whether it is cookies, painting aircraft or supporting our military service members in far off lands, there are “No excuses” for not giving from the heart. We all can be on the giving or receiving side and I pray that we make our service to others special in all that we do.
Written by KING AEROSPACE Founder, Jerry Allan King-Echevarria.