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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.

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.

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