Behind-the-scenes interviews with Medora employees | By Jewel Eliese
He is more than just the man behind the broom.
The ‘Just Like Harold Award’ is an award given to employees who have shown excellence in the ways Harold was wonderful – like his spirit, love for life, and joy for every part of a job.
For Kornelijus Zakaras, his work ethic is why he was nominated.
It was a pleasure to meet him at the Pizza Party for the winners, so we took some time to sit down and speak with him a bit more. We found out he likes to go above and beyond his job description, to communicate well, has a passion for small towns and loves to improve people’s lives young and old.
1. What’s your hometown like?
I live in Lithuania, which is a very small country for Europe. My hometown is very small, too. It’s named Pagegiai (which sounds kind of like spaghetti.) Everyone knows everyone. It’s nice because it’s quiet, not so many people, and comfortable – kind of like Medora. I want to spend my life in my small town. It’s one of the things that drew me to Medora, the size.
2. Do you have family?
I am the youngest in my family. I have two older sisters; one is 32 and the other 28. One lives near my town and the other in a big city.
When I came to California last summer they were concerned for me. My family does not really travel to other places or countries. My sister, the one from the big city, has traveled a little bit in Europe, but I am the first in my family to travel to America. For everyone, it was a, “Wow. How did he get to go there?”
It was nice when my family asked me how was America. They just know from internet or Television, but not for real. I try to tell them every day how it’s a very nice place.
3. What has been the best part of Medora so far?
Everyone said it’s very nice here. Everyone. We started thinking, “Why they said this?” It made us a little bit wonder if it was true. But now when I live here for one month and six days, it looks like a family here. Everyone knows us. Everyone was right.
It’s like a family here. A couple of times, I communicated with Chuck in HR and were talking like friends! Now we always say ‘hello.’
For my boss it was the same. Every day they ask me how I am, or how was my day off. Or if I was okay or needed a break. They ask like a concerned family member. They want me to be happy and comfortable here. That’s how I think Medora is like a family. Caring.
I was in California last summer – it’s very different. California is all night and all day moving, parties or casinos. Here is better. It’s quiet. You work but you can reset yourself. In Lithuania, I don’t have time to read books, here I came and read a book in two weeks!
I like it here.
I like to take a new experience for me, for other persons. I like to see how other persons live, and how they spend their time. How they love life.
And the best part is when I came to the musical. In our country, you don’t see a musical like this cowboys and the countryside. It’s hard to get more American than the Medora Musical.
4. Where do you work?
I work in the Rough Riders Hotel as a janitor. I don’t know why but I like my job. I don’t know what another person’s work is like, but I like how I can work for myself. I know what I need to do and every time just do work, work, work.
When people come in the Rough Riders Hotel they see me and the work I do. If I don’t do my work well, they can see it’s dirty. So when guests come in I quickly go and clean it up for them, to try to make it very clean. To make them happy.
I try to open the door for people and say ‘hello.’ Some guests are older and they need to take bags to their car, so I help them. That’s the best part of my job, when I can work how I like it, can speak with and help people. Plus, I can learn a lot of English language.
5. What is your favorite food at home and a new favorite here?
I can eat everything. I am not picky. For our country, it’s different than here. At home, we eat soup every day first and after that, you eat the main course. I like the foods here. I like when they do chicken at the Life Skills Center. Chicken is different in Lithuania. All chicken looks the same there, cooked the same in every restaurant. Here it is big and crunchy.
6. How do you say “Hello” in your language?
Labas. (I say it well!)
7. What is one question no one has ever asked you but you wish they would?
I would want to be asked a question we need to ask all young people. We need to train their brains, to see what they answer. Do they have a plan?
My question would be, what do you think about your future? What are my plans?
I think I first want to be a good person for other people, to help them. Second is to communicate well.
My dream is to be a mayor for my hometown. I like my hometown and in the future, I want to make my Pagegiai better for all persons who come and spend life there. I want people to see the beautiful places there that make a better life for everyone. Like here in Medora.
I want for all people to be happy.
In Medora, he is the man behind the broom but, maybe, one day you will go to Lithuania and see Mayor Zakaras. He will tell you how he swept floors in Medora and how he enjoyed the hard work, just like Harold did.