No Time To Be A Specialist
The scene: a beautiful night along Milwaukee's lakefront.
The occasion: Marquette University High School's 150th Anniversary Celebration at Discovery World Saturday night, July 21st.
The lesson: you're never too big to do any job.
As grads, students, parents and teachers ate, drank and chatted there was a small army of folks scurrying around to make sure buffets remained well-stocked and glasses were full. My wife and I had just made it away from one of the many tent-covered grazing stations when we noticed a man, around our age, hoisting a full bag from one garbage can while unfurling the replacement and stuffing it back into the receptacle.
It was Joe Bartolottta. It said so, right on his white smock. The one that said "Bartolotta Restaurants" right above his monicker.
Yeah, THAT Joe Bartolotta. Expert chef. Milwaukee restaurateur. Head of a local food empire.
We know Joe from back in the day when he had but one eatery, the one in Tosa that remains among our favorites. We saw how hard he worked to make that place happen, as well as it's siblings who followed. We know Joe is no stranger to either olive oil or elbow grease.
But Joe, why are YOU doing trash duty?
I'm feeding some five thousand people today, he said, including the MUHS crowd on the Discovery World lawn plus a complete wedding inside. I gotta make sure everything's right, he told us.
Even if it means the guy who's name is on the side of the catering trucks is schlepping trash.
Marquette University High School taught many a young man a life lesson or two in it's century and a half near downtown Milwaukee---but one of the best came Saturday night, far removed from any classroom, and few if any saw it.
It came as a man who worked hard to become an empire reminded anyone who was looking that you're never too big to do any job, no matter how small, demeaning or trivial others might consider it to be...especially when it's your name and rep on the line. Joe Bartolotta reminded me that no one is a specialist, and how he got to where he is today.
He also reminded me why I admire him so much.