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Essay: Win Schuler’s

When I was a kid, our family sometimes vacationed in Traverse City where we stayed in little cabins by the bay. Every night before dinner, my parents and a few friends would gather for cocktails.

One of the people in this group was a woman named Meta who seemed very glamorous to me. She was deeply tan, smoked cigarettes, and wore lots of jewelry. Each morning about 11 she climbed on her inflatable raft and paddled out onto the water with a martini.

My parents said she was an “executive secretary” at General Motors and that she didn’t have a husband, just a boyfriend. I was fascinated by her life and when I was about 12, she invited me to go to dinner. I was thrilled.

As we drove into town, she mentioned a restaurant called “Schuler’s.” “I don’t think they’re doing well,” I said, trying to sound very grown up, “because they’re having a contest to give away the restaurant.”

“Is that true?” Meta asked.

“It’s right on their sign,” I said. “It says ‘Win Schuler’s.’”

“That’s very interesting,” she said and never mentioned that the owner’s name was Win.

Win Schuler’s. Looking back on this moment, I’m still embarrassed at my ignorance, but mostly grateful to Meta for not pointing it out.

Honesty isn’t always the best policy—but kindness is.