Treasured possession returned: Teen retrieves wedding ring
by WES MAYER
An area teen received an unexpected surprise after helping a woman who’d lost a treasured possession.
On June 13, after leaving a Kaiser Permanente Medicare information seminar at the Hampton Inn on Bullsboro Drive, Marjorie Morrow accidentally dropped her wedding ring while walking to her car.
“It just disappeared,” Morrow said. “I couldn’t find it anywhere in the parking lot or under the car, and when I moved my car, I still didn’t see it.”
Morrow said that she thought about going back inside to find the owners of the vehicles parked next to her so they could move their cars, but then she saw the sewer drain at the corner of her parking spot. She couldn’t see the ring down in the drain, but had a feeling that it must have been where the ring went. Morrow then went back inside to ask if there was any way to get into the drain.
She found the representative who conducted the seminar, Malcolm Tallie, and asked if he could help. They then went to the drain to see if they could locate the ring.
That was when Kahlil Smith, a 19-year-old employee of the Hampton Inn, came to the rescue. Smith went out and helped peer down the four- or five-foot-deep drain to look for the ring. Together with Tallie, the two finally saw the glint of something inside, but there was no way for the drain’s metal grate to be opened or pried up.
Smith then went inside looking for any tools he could use to retrieve the ring, Morrow said. After a few trips back and forth, Smith was able to build exactly what he needed using a skinny pole, a clothes hanger and some duct tape. Then with much effort, lying on his stomach on the parking lot and baking in the Georgia heat, he calmly and carefully hooked Morrow’s ring and slowly lifted it to the surface.
“It was just an amazing sight,” Morrow said. “And, of course, me being a grandmama, I smiled and hugged him. We went back inside and I found the manager and said, ‘Give this young man a raise.’ He seemed to be embarrassed by all the fuss I was making.”
“My excitement was not so much about the ring,” Morrow said. “Sure it is valuable to me and worth hundreds of dollars, but it is just an object. I was more amazed by [Smith] and his willingness to help a stranger in need.”
As a reward for his help and for completely brightening Morrow’s day, Morrow gave Smith as much cash as she could find on her, wishing she had more to give. She made him promise not to spend it on bills or gasoline, but on something he really wanted. According to Sandy Lee, director of sales at the Hampton Inn and Smith’s mentor, the two of them went shoe shopping to buy Smith a new pair of sneakers later that day.
Morrow was not done rewarding Smith yet, though. After talking to Lee and the other managers at the hotel, Morrow found out that Smith was not currently in school. After getting in trouble a few times, Smith was not able graduate high school. But he recently began working on school again and passed his General Education Development test through the South Georgia Technical College. Morrow learned that Smith loved taking photographs with his phone and would like to one day be either a photographer or a coach.
“So I thought, I am going to find this young man a camera,” Morrow said.
When she returned home, Morrow called the Hampton corporate headquarters, wrote on the Hampton Inn website and told everyone she could about Smith.
Over the weekend, Morrow bought Smith a camera, and on Tuesday she surprised him with it at the Hampton. Smith, Morrow, Lee and the other hotel managers were overjoyed by the occasion.
Morrow was still not finished.
She also got in touch with two other people to help out Smith in his future endeavors. Tony Mitchell, a photographer at Sharp Eye Video and Photography in Norcross, agreed to allow Smith to shadow him during a photography shoot and provide instruction. And Lula Gilliam of Youth Enhancement Services offered to provide educational planning and guidance to Smith once he decides when to continue his education.
Managers at the Hampton Inn are pleased to have Smith on staff and often consider him their guardian angel, Lee said.
“I am so proud of him,” Morrow said. “I applaud his respectfulness, sensitivity, determination, initiative and willingness to provide assistance far, far beyond what might be considered his job.”