Author of the JP Weiscarver Mystery Series
Leopards and spots
Wow, it’s approaching mid-August already and … oh, my … I’ve not posted anything in three weeks. I apologize to those who care. I do have a couple of poor excuses.
First, our work has been quite a drain this summer and I’ve not made myself sit and write enough.
Second, when I have written, I’ve written on a couple of pieces about Donald Trump. One I started almost two months ago with my theory that he really, really does not want to be elected and is toying with his followers while making sure he’s not in the White House. The other is about the potential benefit from his campaign in the form of newspapers reawakening to play their watchdog roles.
However, let’s not get political today. Maybe later, if you want.
Back to the work thing …
Most of you know that Leah and I have worked seasonal jobs each summer – this is the fourth year – as a means to explore different areas of the country and get paid doing it. This summer, we did most of our adventuring prior to starting work by taking a five-week, 360-mile hike along the Erie Canal. Since then, we’ve been pretty much working and, just like on the trail, we’re working side-by-side.
It’s not the best thing for us to spend all of our time together both on and off work, but we’ve handled it quite well. We’re running a coffee-breakfast-pizza-sandwich-etc. shop in the 160-room hotel on the property of the same amusement park where we worked last summer. It’s only an 8- to 9-hour shift, less than “real” jobs we’ve held in the past, but we’re constantly on the go and “on stage.” Plus, we start and end our shifts with 25-minute walks to and from work.
This is my first experience with food service since a three-month part-time stint working as a cook in Pizza Hut when I was in college. It’s not something I took to easily, but Leah (who has worked in food every summer) has been patient with me. It’s gotten to the point where I feel as if I’m pulling my weight fairly well.
Just like the first three summers, the best part of the job is interacting with the guests. Unlike Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore – where guests come from around the country and many parts of the world – almost everyone here is from either the state of New York or the province of Ontario. Oh, yeah, we have a ton of visitors from across the nearby border.
As such, they are always alerting on our accents: “You’re not from around here, are you?”
Naturally, not all of our customers are as much fun.
A couple of weeks ago, we had an older couple who we independently deduced were from “the city.” That’s a term we’ve found people around here use for New York City. If you haven’t figured it out, please understand that folks around most of the state are not like folks in the city and don’t want you to think they are.
Suffice it to say, this couple was somewhat more demanding and much less appreciative of what we did for them. Sure enough, Leah visited with their daughter and learned they were, indeed, from the city.
We had seen them Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and, apparently, they didn’t spend much time in the theme park because they were always around. Friday afternoon, I said to Leah, “at least our city people will be gone by Monday.”
Except they weren’t … and here is finally the subject of today’s story.
Early Monday morning, the city gentleman ordered something to eat and tried to pay for it with a hundred-dollar bill. Leah explained to him she couldn’t make change just yet. As the morning progresses, you collect twenties and soon it’s no problem, but doing so now would have put her in jeopardy of running out.
It hasn’t been unusual for us to encounter that and we always let them pay us later. It’s a hotel, after all, we sort of hold them captive and nobody has stiffed us yet.
This man fumed, “I’ve never heard of a hotel unable to break a hundred-dollar bill.” He had previously tried the front desk, but they hardly use cash at all up there.
As Leah tried to make him understand that we could work it out later, a man who had been patiently waiting to get his coffee eased into the conversation.
“Here,” he said to the city man, “let me buy you breakfast.”
The fellow was shocked. It was more than $13, not just a cup of java.
“I can’t let you do that,” he said.
“It’s nothing,” the fellow said. “I quit drinking a few years ago. With the money I’m not spending on alcohol now, it’s like I have an extra $13 in my pocket every day.”
Wow, what a nice gesture and it couldn’t have been made to a more appropriate person. The city man graciously thanked his benefactor and accepted the offer.
And then …
He gathered his food to leave, mumbling, “I just can’t believe a hotel can’t break a hundred-dollar bill.”