Pondering A Life Of Hospitality

Recently a client asked if any one situation stood out in my hospitality career. Hmm, that’s a loaded question.

There was the groom who begged for a make-up miracle to conceal his black eye. Pimps don’t care if it’s your wedding day – any man who slinks out between nuptials and reception to bang a hooker and refuses to pay, deserves more than a black eye.

Standing between drunks and free flowing alcohol is a barrel of laughs – “I thought they gassed all the Jews” stands out as one way to guarantee a call to security is handled promptly.

Being hired to manage a “birthday party”, arrive to find a Bris, explain politely we could have provided a loaf of bread to “break” had they bothered to ask, negotiate compromise with the Rabbi (technically ceremonial “breaking” of sliced bread for the spinach dip fulfills ritual requirements, right? ) Post party clean-up – realize the coffee cup in my hand contains blood soaked gauze and foreskin.

Applying red nail polish to a bowl of raw chicken feet (Metallica dressing room), assuring Neil Diamond I would fire any staff who made eye contact with him. Asked to deliver a bottle of Jack Daniels (won’t say whose dressing room) moments after they trotted in a sheep on a leash. Jack in hand, walked in on rock star performing a sex act with said sheep. Brushing lint off Elton John’s jacket. Giving Robert Plant a stern piece of my mind for ignoring tour protocol regarding production company approval of any additional expenses. His “sorry ma’am” still rings in my ears.

Joe Cocker wearing nothing but boxer shorts, mesmerized by imperfections of his vulnerable shell, I set dinner on a table. He strikes up a conversation, for 30 effortless minutes we discuss the cosmos. Myself, Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt and Sarah McLachlan post show in a dark, empty arena – four ladies talking until the wee hours of morning. B.B. King holding court after his show, not a “meet and greet”, nothing formal, seems he just felt like hanging around. An hour passes, another, it’s after 1 am when he calls me over – “Darlin, I could really use some BBQ chips”.  He takes my hand, presses something into the palm and holds on for a peculiarly long time. He lets go, I open my hand to find a 14K gold pendant commemorating B.B. King’s final tour.

Menstrual calamities – cutting out red stained section of hysterical brides’ wedding dress, fashioning faux lace from white tissue paper, hand stitching in place with 10 minutes to spare before she walked down the aisle. Young Asian women with limited English, “help” drew my attention to blood running down both legs from crotch length spandex to 4 inch stilettos. Couldn’t find a feminine product but offered a jug of warm water and 2 clean bar rags. “You clean” she replied. “Wash your own legs” is universal in any language, she shrugged as I led her out the back door to tidy up in our cargo van. Hunched over, wobbling on stilettos, she used one cloth to wash, stuffed the other in her panties, ran back inside, jumped on stage to sing a karaoke rendition of Lady Gaga, I Was Born This Way.

Work is why I’m fearless, the reason my then teenage son once declared “Mom, you’re the MOST” (Master Of Small Talk). Amusement, satisfaction and unusual strokes knock without invitation. Truth be told, the stand out situation of hospitality life is recognizing the moment adrenalin flips a switch at “go time”. Unfazed, daunted, hesitant or perturbed, go time is my time to shine.

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10 thoughts on “Pondering A Life Of Hospitality

  1. I spent 45 years in the hospitality line and could never get over the stupidity of some people, though the arrogance was more reproachable as though some felt that because you had been hired to ‘perform’ you were therefore expected to act totally submissive to their problems . Smiles> KB

    • I’ve been spat on, slapped and verbally assaulted. Truth is, without exception the power is mine. ( Oh man, witnessing their shock, whines, protestations and blithering when security shows them the door, never gets old ) Luckily, extreme ignorance is rare.

  2. Versatility, adaptability, initiative plus a well developed highly flexible sense of humour. Add a touch of humanity, of course — and iron control over the gagging reflex. A stressful career?

    Stress, they tell us, is what you get when the professional survival instinct overrides the reflexive urge to strangle the snot out of some inconsiderate half-witted buffoon who absolutely deserves it.

  3. Wash your own legs. Priceless.

    I once had a client’s guest try to charge a fur coat to room expenses. I told him to sod off, and no we weren’t paying for his wife (?hooker) either. Get your hand in your pocket, mateyboy..

    And you bollocked Percy Plant. Respect is due.

  4. What a brilliant list of oddities and memories, what a rich life you’ve lived through work. I think half the battle is enjoying the environment in which you work, and there are two things that stand out: “Myself, Tina Turner, Bonnie Raitt and Sarah McLachlan post show in a dark, empty arena – four ladies talking until the wee hours of morning.” And then the B.B. King story is just golden and sincere. I like the way he thinks. Cheers to memories, and making new ones 🙂

  5. Awesome stories Notes. When I worked at CERN, our Nobel prize winning big ego boss took a UK minister of science to a local restaurant to be told it was full. He exclaimed: do you know who we are?! and proceeded to explain with much arm waving. The restaurant guy waited patiently and replied: and do you know who I am? A pause followed. I’m the restaurant owner. We’re full.

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