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Archive for December, 2016

Painter’s View: Pro Linebacker on Property

A True Hotel New Year’s Tale…

 

I would have recognized the former Chicago Bears linebacker anywhere. Even sitting at the bottom of the playground’s purple slide.

 

Nearby, two children – identical in size and features – played on the monkey bars.

 

Suddenly, the retired football player jumped up, sprinted toward the young boys, and grabbed them under his massive arms.  “Let’s go find your grandmother,” he cheered. And off they went.

 

I didn’t see the highly-respected athlete again. But a teammate in engineering sure did. And, he set out to get an autograph from the man.

 

“He give much (to) sick children in Mexico City after earthquakes,” my coworker said. “Years ago. He still help. Hospital. Orphanage.”

 

“Really?” Sorry to say, I knew little about the pro player’s life since he took off that helmet and famous jersey.

 

The former Chicago Bears record holder wasn’t the only good man around the hotel that Christmas holiday season.

 

Later that afternoon, I spotted Carlos (not real name) handing two-twenty dollar bills to a fellow engineering tech. Earlier, everyone in the department had chipped in to help Rory (not real name) buy a new car battery, so he could drive off the hotel property at the end of his shift. The collection had come up short.

 

Carlos was not loaded with money. He had a large family to feed. Probably, he needed that forty dollars for their Christmas.

 

Later that day, near quitting time, I wandered into the kitchen. The cook was getting ready to discard food, left over from a banquet in the conference center.

 

“Lots of good food, just going to waste,” he said shaking his head. “We always prepare extra. There’s enough here to feed a small army.”

 

“Or two large families,” I grinned.

 

Immediately, an image popped into my brain. “I know two staff members’ families that could really use this food. Do you have any doggie boxes?”

 

The cook stepped over to a cupboard and pulled out a stack of Styrofoam carriers. “I’ll dish up. You close and put into two groups. One for each guy.”

 

We hurried. The wall clock said ten after four. “We’ll just make it.” I punched my mobile. “Carlos, find Rory and both of you come to the kitchen. Pronto.”

 

“What’s up, Bob?”

 

“You’ll see.” I got back to work helping to box up the leftover food. There was ham, potato fries, dressing, sweet potato boats, green beans, carrots, and chocolate cake squares, with red and green (butter) icing. .

 

The doors to the kitchen flew open, and both Carlos and Rory burst in. “What’s up, Bob?”

 

“These!” exclaimed the cook. “For you. Your families.”

 

“WHAT?!?”  Neither man got it.

 

“I hope that you got that new battery put in your car, Rory.” I thought: ‘cause you’re going to need to get this food home pronto.

 

Then, the engineering teammates did get it.

 

Excitedly, the cook and I bagged all of the filled boxes. Handing three large bags to each man.

 

Before Carlos and Rory left, all four of us were sworn to secrecy. But, something told me that even the G.M. would have given his “OK.” Especially, if he’d known each tech’s situation.

 

Interestingly, when I started at the hotel, both Carlos and Rory had been among the group of teammates that ate lunch together, and spoke only Spanish. I’d felt left out… a newcomer to the “hotel family.”

 

Isn’t it funny how time, experience and real teamwork brings people together? I’ll bet that’s something that the former Bears linebacker could have taught us a lot about!

 

FINAL NOTE: Many thanks to all hotel and facility team members that look out for their peers.

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Noticing and filling a teammate’s need doesn’t take much time, just an open soul.

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Many thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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Painter’s View: Ten Spaces and Ten Reasons to Paint on New Year’s Week-end

New Year’s week-end is a great time to pick up a brush, and paint.

 

Because of the busy holidays, at least some of your regular schedule is probably still on hold. You’re in a more relaxed, “winding down” mode. And, you’re already psyched up to try new things, new ways.

 

 TEN REASONS TO PAINT ON NEW YEAR’S WEEK-END

 

  1. You may have more time off to paint things other than assigned work orders and tasks.
  2. Paint stores are running super pre-2017 sales.
  3. Many product manufacturers’ websites and apps are offering two-and-three-for-one discounts.
  4. Manufacturers are offering introductory discounts on paint products in the new 2017 colors.
  5. You may need a physical outlet to vent that holiday season stress.
  6. At work, your chief engineer may be more amenable to your doing that creative project that you’ve suggested.
  7. At home, the holiday spirit will still be wide open for creative expression.
  8. Your energy and enthusiasm levels are still at a high.
  9. Your willingness may be greater to accept a little help from your crew.
  10. You “need to paint this now” – while you’re in the mood.

 

 TEN SPACES TO PAINT ON NEW YEAR’S WEEK-END

 

  1. Rooms at home: a bathroom, bedroom, sun porch, study/den, attic room, sewing room.

TIP: Steer clear of high activity areas during the holidays – eg. kitchen, media room.

  1. Areas at home: workroom in basement or garage, garage/barn loft, small apartment, workshop.
  2. Rentals: apartment, loft, duplex unit; small house, condo or townhome.
  3. Home-based work space: office, writing/artist studio, computer room/alcove, assembly room.
  4. On-site work spaces: bosses’ offices and bathrooms, art gallery offices, shop offices; kitchen/lunch room; non-profit offices, workrooms, or restrooms.
  5. Furniture: simply designed chairs, table in good condition, smaller dresser/chest, bed, smooth-surface desk, picture/mirror frames; bookcases, storage units.
  6. Built-ins: eating nooks, window seat areas, bookshelves, cabinetry doors/frames, home office cubicle.
  7. Fun spaces: Jewelry/treasure boxes; children’s sleeping loft or playhouse; children’s toy chest; dollhouse, play barn/fort; doghouse.
  8. Elderly friend/relative space: front entry, living/dining area, bedroom, den/study, enclosed sun room; ALF/retirement community apartment or villa.

TIP: Pre-arrange for the resident to stay with a neighbor, relative or friend for the week-end. Or,              perhaps in your home?

  1. Your church: Unless the buildings are new, nearly every room/area may need a pro painter’s touch.

TIP: Look for smaller rooms that have been ignored or neglected aesthetically. Examples: Sunday             school rooms, library room, workroom, bulletin/newsletter/printing room, office workroom and storage rooms; kitchen/pantry; choir practice room and robe storage.

 

TOP TIP: Make it a project of your choice. Make it a do-good, do-well endeavor.

 

P. S. My New Year’s project: Applying matching faux finish pattern to two, curbside discarded, two-drawer metal file cabinets.

 

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Happy New Year, everyone. Enjoy. Stay safe. Be well.

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Here’s hoping to hear from you in the New Year – 2017.

Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob” during 2016.

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: “Mrs. J,” Homeless Hotel Resident

Mrs. “J” lived on the second floor of Building 300-400. That is, toward the back of the hotel property.

 

She and her three young children had been there for nearly a year. Victims of an abusive husband/father and home foreclosure, they owned what had fitted into three suitcases. And, they had nowhere else to go.

 

Sooner than later, the woman’s money started to run out. She had extreme difficulties paying the rent on the guest room. More frequently, her children were seen foraging for food left in trash bins setting throughout the property. The middle child even took to sneaking into the Food Court, and asking the cook for uneaten food.

 

Our G.M. took a “Samaritan” approach to Mrs. “J” and her children. He did the same for the more than ten other families that had nowhere else to go.

 

Among other things, he made certain that the families – especially the children – had a Christmas. Holiday food, warmer clothing and new shoes, even gifts. And, he discreetly invited the staff to help out, too.

 

On Christmas Eve morning, I started my shift early. At 7:00 A.M. Mrs. “J” stood at the corner of her building, closest to my usual parking spot. She approached me slowly.

 

She looked down at my name badge. “Robert, I’ve been waiting for you.” Her eyes looked sunken.  There were fresh bruises on the left side of her face and neck, also her left arm and both hands.

 

“Mrs. ‘J,’ what happened to you?” The woman wobbled, trying not to fall against my truck.

 

“I’m okay now. He…uh…He left.”

 

“He…Who left? Your husband was here? He found you?” A sick sensation hit my stomach.

 

“Yes. But he’s all gone now…Won’t be back.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Because I have no money to give him.”

 

No money? I thought. The woman was on her own. She was struggling to keep a roof over her children’s heads, and food in their stomachs.

 

I did not ask her. I just pushed the button on my mobile, and asked for “Security.”

 

Mrs. “J” and her children needed a little extra help. I wondered: How many other temporary hotel residents here needed this type of extra help?

 

That Christmas season marked a new, trumped up security plan for our special guests. One that carried over into the following year. It was a plan that no one on the staff really talked about. Yet, everyone on the staff knew about, and discreetly helped, to carry it out.

 

In previous years, I’ve posted about homelessness in America, and homelessness in Central Florida. I’ve posted about our Santa/G.M’s humanitarian  heart, and the kind hearts of his elves/staff.

 

It may be six years after Mrs. “J’s” Christmas attack. It may be close to three years, since I posted the first piece about hotel homeless residents/guests.

 

Let me reassure you: Christmas of 2016: Many destitute individuals and families call hotel rooms their homes.

 

A Painter’s Plan…

 

Are you, or will you be, staying at a hotel, resort or lodge this holiday season?

 

  1. Please keep your eyes and ears open for guests that need some help.
  2. Let the first staff member you see that you’ve noticed that another guest – especially any child – is struggling.
  3. Notify Security promptly if any guest or family appears to be in a crisis mode.
  4. Do not approach the needy guest yourself. Do not reach out to help.

 

You will be doing enough – the right thing – by contacting the hotel staff.

 

At Christmas time, “persons with special needs” go far beyond the traditional definition of “special needs.” It encompasses anyone – of any age – that needs help from someone else. To survive!

 

A message to the rest of us: Eyes open. Ears alert. Heads up. Heart open. Enough to recognize that another person needs help. And enough to call for help!

 

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Painters and decorators: Thank you for brightening and freshening up the world of others.

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And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: The Finer Essence: A View of Fathers

The Finer Essence is part of the title of a 32-page booklet, written and published by my mother for her cousins and children, my sister, and I.  It’s a collection of biographical stories about some of the fathers in our family. (Including my father, grandfathers, great uncles, great-grandfathers, etc.)

 

Originally, the plan called for the soft cover publication to be ready for distribution near Father’s Day of 2008.

 

However, the publication date got moved back when I suffered my first adverse reaction to exposure to very high levels of major myotoxins. Specifically, black mold infestation.

 

Eight years, and a lot more genealogical research, later the illustrated, full-color book – expanded to 40 pages – rolled off the press. Well, out of the printer.

 

Last week-end (four days ago), its pages got collated into sets, flat stapled, and folded. Then inserted into white 10 x 13 envelopes. And, as I write this post, they’re being weighed, meter posted, and mailed at the nearest U. S. Postal Service counter.

 

The books will not arrive (except my copy) in time for Christmas. Close enough, though.

 

It’s one of those gifts – about ancestry – that can keep on giving. Every time someone opens the book’s front cover.

 

What kind of gift can you give that will keep on giving? For generations, perhaps?

 

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Best wishes for a safe, healthy and joy-filled holiday season.

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Many thanks to everyone for visiting “Painting with Bob” – and for doing what you can to make the work world a better place.

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

 

Painter’s World: MEET ZACHARY

A True Hotel Holiday Tale…

 

At first, I thought the teen might have had a problem with depression. He sat on a nearby bench, doubled over. Just staring into the ground.

 

But depression turned out not to be what was weighing down this kid.

 

His name was Zachary. He was visiting Walt Disney World with his parents and grandparents. It was his nineteenth birthday. And evidently, one year ago, on December 24, he’d lost his little brother, Matt, to brain cancer.

 

“Matty was only nine,” the teenage guest told me.

 

We continued to chat as I clear-coated the span of wood railing.  Zachary said that his only sibling had had “a rough time” from the start.

 

“Matty was born with a hole in his heart.” Then the child was only five when he started to complain of “feeling whoozie” and “having pain inside” his head.

 

Zachary said that he felt guilty for being alive. And, with no problems at all.

 

Eventually, I ran out of railing to finish coat. And, I needed to move on to the next project on my list.

 

That afternoon, Zachary showed up again. I was repainting a large built-in seat in a rest area. The teen watched intently. He appeared to be much calmer.

 

“How do you do that?” he asked.

 

“Do what?”

 

“Maneuver that brush that way? Really radical.”

 

“Radical? Like in…?” I asked.

 

“Like in neat. Cool.” He hesitated. “I’d like to learn how to do that.”

 

“Step up. I’d be glad to show you.”

 

It was completely against policy. Letting a hotel guest be in a “fresh paint zone.” Letting a guest – a kid – handle any of our word tools, or use any paint product.

 

Probably, I could have gotten fired on the spot if my chief engineer would have come along. But, this kid – practically an adult – reminded me of someone else when he’d been grieving. Me – for my father.

 

Zachary stepped forward. I handed him a second two-inch angled paint brush, dipped in a little Forest Green paint.

 

“Closely watch my hand. It’s all in the wrist.”

 

The teen guest watched, then tried to mimic my wrist-hand movement. On the third try, he got the basic idea. A smile of satisfaction crossed his face.

 

“Matty loved to paint. I bought him an artist kit – you know, one of those sets in a metal box? The Christmas before… His last Christmas with us.”

 

The teen’s look dropped again. Like when I first spotted him that morning. I needed to do – to say – something.

 

“When my dad died suddenly, I thought I’d never paint again.” I told Zachary that my dad and I had worked together. “That made it extra hard,” I acknowledged.

 

I told the teen how one day I looked at Dad’s brushes. I picked up one of them. “And, you know what? That heavy feeling in my heart? It just sort of got a little better.”

 

The teen guest looked at me. He handed my brush back. And, he started to walk away. He turned back.

 

“I just remembered: I brought Matty’s artist kit along in my luggage.”

 

Zachary was going to be all right. At least for now, perhaps he had a way to make some sense of the whole thing. And, be able to enjoy the holidays with his parents, and grandparents – in their eighties.

 

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Take note. Heads up. Every guest… every coworker… could use a little boost.

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A year’s worth of thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: “Please Find My Dolly.”

A True Hotel Holiday Tale…

 

She couldn’t have been more than five years old. I’d just rounded a building, and climbed out of the golf cart. The little girl ran toward me.

“My dolly. Mein puppe. My dolly.” Tears gushed out of her deep blue-green eyes. Wide with fear. “My dolly,” she sobbed, as she grabbed onto a woman’s hand.

“May I help you, Mam?” I asked.

“My doteur lose her doll.”

 

It was Christmas Eve at the hotel. Guests and visitors swarmed the property. The Seralago was at full capacity. Actually at overflow.

I knelt down to the child’s level. “What is your dolly’s name?”“

“Katweena,” she cried. “Dolly Katweena.”

“Katrina? That’s a pretty name.” The child reminded me of my sister. What she probably looked like at that age. Beautiful, natural wavy hair that encircled her round face. Like an angel’s golden halo.

“Can you tell me what your dolly looks like?”

“Like me.”

“Blonde hair?” I looked to the mother, who struggled with her English.

“Katrina large. (The woman moved her arms about 20-22 inches in height.) “Baby doll. Pink dress. White pinafore. Shoes, like Marta’s. (She looked down at her daughter’s white tie shoes.

The little girl had inched closer to me. “You find Katweena?” she asked, almost in a whisper.

How could I refuse? It may have been close to clocking out. But, no way could I leave that property before finding that child’s doll.

“Madam, do you know where your daughter might have left her doll?

“We – family – by pool. Close gazebo. Husband and sons swim. I read in chair. Marta stand by small pool, for little ones.” The woman’s voice sort of dropped away. Her eyes full of concern.

“I’ll start by the pool then. Where will you be, Madam? What room?” I stopped. Family of five, I thought. “Does your family have a suite here?”

“Yes. Suite. Children’s fun room. Building 100-200.” She hesitated, “Please find. Must fly home day after Christmas. Germany.”“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.”

“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.” The lady smiled, then bent down and hugged her little girl.

 

Standing, I reached for my mobile, and called Security.

“Please put out the word. We’re looking for a lost doll. Long, blonde hair. Pink dress, white pinafore, and white tie shoes. Doll is 18-22 inches tall.” I told security where I was, and the guest’s suite number.

I felt a tug on one of my pants legs. My “whites” were splattered with pastel yellow and mint green paint. (We’d had an incident in another suite. It needed a quick repaint, the entire suite.)

“Please find her.” The little girl’s eyes bore into mine.

“I will. I promise.”

 

After clearing where I could find the family within the next hour, I re-parked my golf cart. And I took off.

First, I scoured the entire pool area, including the gazebo. Also the children’s playground. Just in case. I checked every spot within that general radius, certain that the child had not wandered far from her family’s location by the pool.

For over a half-hour, I looked. Nothing. And, no one else – in security – had found the doll either.

I decided to find the family. To reassure the mother – the little girl – that I was still looking. And that other staff members were looking, too.

The family was back at the pool area. The little girl spotted me and met me part way. “You not find my Katweena,” she said. Lowering her eyes to the ground.

“Not yet.” I bent down. “But I’m still looking.” I forced a smile. “She has to be here somewhere. Right?”

“Wight!” The child agreed. A slight smile appeared on her tear-moist face.

 

About fifteen minutes later,  I looked toward a sort of out-of-the-way corner near the gazebo. I’ll never know why. Something just pulled me there.

I darted toward an area opposite the pool. Past the gazebo. Around the corner. Toward this nearby pool supply building.

There she was! Doubled over on the concrete walk. I couldn’t wait to grab hold of that dolly. Wipe her off. Straighten up her dress and pinafore. And, smooth down her curls.

 

I will always remember the look on that little girl’s face. The moment she spotted her dolly in my arms.

It was the same kind of “love-look” that I remembered seeing, many times, on my sister’s face when we were kids. Especially when she was playing with her Madame Alexander Baby Doll.  “Cookie.”

"COOKIE" circa 1972

 “COOKIE” – circa 1972

 

I worked the next day. Christmas Day. And, I had the chance to see little Marta and her family before they caught the shuttle to Orlando International Airport.

Working on Christmas – that Christmas – offered such a remarkable reward. The gift of being surrounded by people – hundreds of families – on the most important day of the year.

 

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Bless you and yours this holiday season.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: The Physician/Group-Insurance Company Generic Collaboration

I’m about ready to pull my graying  hair out, and go bald.

 

I take a Brand name medication that requires a prescribing MD’s prior-authorization request to access. Suddenly, the M.D. decided to stop completing and submitting a prior-authorization form for the Brand name to the insurance company.

 

“Totally unnecessary. Generic is exactly the same as brand name.”

 

What was that? Try to convince the Major Pharmas of that one!

 

Take note, fellow healthcare consumers:

 

As of the end of 2015, over 3 billion, 874 million* Americans take a generic form of a Brand name prescription drug. The National Prescription Audit’s most recent report** shows that 84.3 percent of prescription sales are the generic compound. Total generic sales topped $1.7 trillion dollars between 2005 and 2014.

 

At least 70 percent of those 3,874,000 are taking the generic, versus Brand compound, because of one or more of the following reasons.

 

  1. Their insurance company – eg. employer group, individual, family, Medicare, HMO – approves and has in its RX formulary only the generic versions of the Brand name prescription.

 

  1. Their healthcare provider will not order the Brand name as – eg. “medically necessary,” “Fill with RX Brand only,” etc. Note: See “Important Note” below.

 

  1. The patients cannot afford the cost of the Brand name pharmaceutical products.

 

  1. The local in-network pharmacies carry, or will order, only the generic version(s) of the Brand name product.

 

  1. The healthcare provider’s group, and its insurance company, will not certify the physicians in the group to write prior-authorization requests for and to prescribe Brand name products, when a generic is available. Note: See “Important Note” below.

 

Important Note: This includes if and when the patient tries and cannot take any of the generic (s) of the Brand name product. This includes if and when the patient has tried and retried, unsuccessfully, to take all of the generic compounds on the market. This can even include when a hospital consulting specialist determines that a patient must go back to taking the Brand name product.

 

One smaller health insurance company has found a solution. Well, it would appear to be one…

 

In its pharmacy formulary, the company includes a “suspension”/liquid form of a particular Brand name product. It is considered a compounded, “Specialty drug. At a Specialty drug tier/level price. This tier or level usually carries the highest price drugs in the insurance company’s pharmacy formulary.

 

A patient is caught in a bind. No choices that really benefit him or her.

 

Five of the Patient’s Options

 

  1. The patient can take and stay on a generic, regardless of adverse reactions, interactions, etc.

 

  1. The patient can self-pay 100 percent of the retail cost of the Brand name prescription drug.

 

  1. The patient can order the Brand name product from a Canadian pharmacy, hopefully one with a good track record for prompt delivery and sound ethical practices.

 

  1. The patient can change from the prescribing physician to one that will submit that prior authorization request for Brand name only.

 

  1. The patient can switch to a similar Brand name product that is in the insurance company’s pharmacy formulary, and does not require a prior authorization.

          Cautions: A.Most Brand name products listed in the formulary will require prior-authorization.                 B. Also, many newer Brand options come with much higher price tags.

 

What about simply changing your medication?

TIP: It may be wise to change from a medication that’s working only if you have to do so.

 

Real World Scenario. It’s very interesting to see and hear the reaction of another, leading healthcare provider, when told that a prescribing physician refuses to support an established patient’s need to stay on a Brand name prescription medication.

 

M.D.: “Did he/she say why?”

PATIENT: “I won’t do it…It’s totally unnecessary. Generic is exactly the same as Brand.”

M.D.: Tilt of his head…His eyes lower…He shakes his head left-to-right. “Hummmm.”

 

Guess what! A few poignant letters, including to the company’s president/ceo and group medical director may have gotten them all talking again, and rethinking their prior authorization policies. We’ll let you know. Keep your patient/healthcare consumer fingers crossed.

 

SOURCES

* “Statista Report on (Generic) Pharmaceutical Products and Markets, for 2015.”

* Also, The Generic Pharmaceutical Association.

** National Prescription Audit (for Generics), Report May, 2016.

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Responsible healthcare boils down to responsive treatment of the patient.

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Many thanks for trying to do your best in your world.

And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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