Friday, January 13, 2006

Hope You Don't Mind If I Namedrop

In my former life, as you may know if you checked my profile, I worked in the hospitality industry. The first job I had while in high school was bussing at a private club on North Reddington Beach in Florida. It was there the Frimax got into my bloodstream and though I tried I was never able to regin my normal physiology or for that matter, my sanity. Ya gotta be kind of crazy to do this kind of work.

The early years were spent learning the profession, and yes it is a profession. I tried my best to resist the jobs which I wound up taking. Restaurant kitchens in Florida were hot and for the most part managers were unbearable. There was, however, a certain satisfaction in completing a shift in front of a blazing broiler after almost removing a finger while cutting about two hundred pounds of grouper. It was never, even after I moved into management, a formal learning experience. Most of the training was and is done "on the fly".

My real enjoyment of the occupation came after I moved into the hotel end of the career. My first hotel jobs were in the "mom and pop" seasonal hotels which no longer exist in St. Petersburg. I was driving a taxi during the day and working at the hotel at night. Fortunately most of the hotel job involved just being there "in case" and I was allowed to sleep on the couch in the lobby. When I moved to Baltimore in '89 the real fun began.

I went to work for Marriott and after supervising the restaurant, room service and the bar was "promoted" to executive stewart. As such I was in charge of all the food and beverage equipment and managed the dishwashers and other cleaning personal. It was a terrible job dealing with undependable people who did one of the most important jobs. You know, clean dishes are necessary. I did gain a great deal of respect for these guys who did the job well.

The best job I had was Catering Service Manager. My responsibility was to see that meetings, social events, etc. went as they should and provide for the guests needs. I was given a red coat to wear and was the guy to see if you needed a flip chart or the meeting room reset in the next five minutes. I met some really nice people while doing that job. Don't mind me while I name drop.

I did a party for the entire 1994 New York Yankees baseball team. Bernie Williams is a soft spoken guy who plays classical guitar and Joe Torre arranged Sunday church services for the players. Brooks Robinson was often in the hotel, a real gentleman. One of the guys from "Journey" used my hairspray while Steve Perry and the group were having dinner in the restaurant. Fifteen Hall of Famers were there for the 100 anniversary of the Black Football Players. Alice Cooper is the nicest guy and I encountered him on two occasions. Cal Ripkin gave me his autograph. One of my fondest memories is of Tug McGraw reading "Casey At The Bat". Gayle Sayers hands were so messed up I had to put the hand out in the bag for him. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage bought all 22 cases of Miller Lite we had in the cooler. "Night Of The Living Dead" is one of Wanda's favorites and Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman and George Romero gave me autographed pics for her. There was Earl Weaver, Bob Feller, Art Schell, and Doug Williams, Dr Ben Carson and Brian Billick. Ertha Kitt was there for the employee Christmas party and "bitch slapped" the busser Miles for fun. There were more but I don't want to get carried away and by now I'm sure you've had enough.

It was a fantastic career and as time goes by I'll post more on my past adventures. Like I said you've got to be kind of crazy to do that kind of work but it's a good craziness.


Blogger Bonita said...

Two of my sons are dishwashers - and I tell them what you've just said - any job is worth doing well. I was a 'pot and pan' person in a nursing home, among other duties, and I can tell you, getting those clean was a real challenge. If the cook was upset, there'd be more pots, pans, bowls, etc. - either she was angry and wanted to pass it on, or she was not focused. I got them clean, and done on time. But, I have scar tissue all over my back, from micro tears in the muscles. Darn hard work. I did it for 10 years.

9:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was Back of House Manager for the Sheraton in Colorado Springs way back when...I loved working in hotels.

But the things you see...oh boy!

5:03 AM  
Blogger Cowtown Pattie said...

Cal Ripkin? OMG!

My favorite sports hero! I am pea-green...

Closest I ever came to your profession was night desk clerk for a little motel in Port O'Connor, Texas - the Tarpon Inn. Had a tiny liquor store as well. I got to know all those smalltown secret vices pretty well.

8:56 AM  

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