Something most of us get told early on in life is that the really influential, important people in the world are ones like politicians, policemen, professors, preachers, pontificators – the ones who make a lot of noise, a lot of money, a big impact and get the most publicity. They’re the ones who affect us most, evidently, make a difference to us, govern us, tell us what to do, keep us in order, advise us, even get us jobs … that sort of thing. But my experience tells me something different. My experience tells me that the most significant and influential people in one’s life are not the ones mentioned above, but quite different ones. I call them friends in high places. As a matter of fact, I often found them in very low places!
On my OE during the ’70s and ’80s of last century, new to Amsterdam, I got a job (illegal) as a breakfast waitress in a seedy little hotel on one of the canals. On my first day, shouted at by an irascible Dutch boss, hassled by diners, and struggling with unfamiliar tasks, I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of the dishwasher, who was apparently always late. In walked a personage who was to effectively change the course of my life. He was a black American of extraordinary grace whose way of dealing with the dishes clearly demonstrated that he was no more a dishwasher than I was a waitress. When I eventually plucked up the courage to ask him what his day job was, I learned that he was a dancer.