Sunday, August 31, 2008

One More Day


Such a beautiful day today! Clear skies, gentle breeze. I have one more day on my current work schedule (3 to 11 PM tonight) before I have two days off. I enjoyed working the last four days. It has been awhile since I worked five consecutive days. I was unsure of how it would affect me but, apparently, I am managing. I'm even enjoying it! Working days is quite different than working evenings. Both are interesting but different. Prior to taking semi retirement a few years ago, I worked full time for approximately 43 years. My first job was running errands for my relatives in the apartment building I lived in on Washington Avenue, in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. I was only four years old at that time. Later, during school, I worked as a paper boy, office cleaner and weekends at Marty Brill's Meat Counter at the Downingtown Farmer's Market. I also worked as a dishwasher, gardener (read that as "weed puller") and orchard picker. Then it was three years service int he U. S. Army as a communications intercept specialist. After my Army service, I had a short time job as a hotel night auditor at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel in Pittsburgh, PA. Leaving Pittsburgh, I returned to Downingtown and got a job as a accounts payable clerk at Lipsett Steel Products in Coatesville, PA. After about three years I got my "dream job" in a major city bank - Girard Bank, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For 37 years I worked at five different banks before returning to the hospitality industry. In 2001 I began working as a night auditor at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania. Eventually I worked my way "up" to front desk clerk and sales associate. I now work at a boutique hotel in Lewes, Delaware. Up until last week I only worked two nights a week and filled in where necessary due to absences and schedule changes. Recently I was asked if I could fill in for the front desk clerk who was about to go on pregnancy leave. I agreed and here I am, back to working full time at 66 years old. Perhaps the main difference this time is I love where I work, who I work with, and the kind of work I do (I love meeting people and providing service for them.) And, this is very important, the commute is excellent! Now I have to get ready for work.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Working Full Time




Hey folks! I'm working full time at the Inn for the next six weeks. I'm filling in for the regular day front desk person who had her baby last night. Thus I continue my work pattern of over 50 years. In 1965, my first job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia, I fill in for the pregnant remittance clerk. She never came back after her baby was born (and I never met her either) and thus, my banking career began. It ended a few years back at another bank, with a whimper. I won't be working at this job for the next fifty years. However, I will be taking some absences from my daily blog postings. Hang in there if you're a regular reader. I'll be back when I can.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Sasha Goes Home


Remember Sasha? She is the young Russian woman who is part of the summertime work force from eastern European countries that descends upon the Rehoboth Beach, DE/Ocean City, MD resorts to supplement the workforce. These young men and women from such countries as Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Belarus work as waiters and waitress, bussers, hotel room attendants, and store clerks. Many of them hold two jobs. When I first posted a blog about Sasha, she was shy, inexperienced and tentative. She had just begun her job at the boutique hotel in Lewes, DE where I work as a front desk clerk. She joined an already entrenched workforce mostly made of local Nanticoke Indians. From my viewpoint it didn't seem like an immediate "fit." In addition to working in a foreign country and learning the English language, she now had the challenge of working with an ethnic group of which she probably knew nothing about. However, she quickly adapted and soon was working harmoniously along Dee, Tasha, Amber, Crystal and Dawn with a smile on her pink cheeked face. Sasha soon developed a reputation for dependability and productiveness. It was with pleasure those days when I worked and Sasha would sweep by the front desk with her two-toned pink backpack to clock in. After clocking in she would go into the ladies' room and change into her working cloths. Then the kitchen door would bust open with Sasha pushing her blue canvas laundry cart. With a list of rooms to clean firmly grasped in her left hand, and with both hands on her cart, she goes to elevator. A bit later, the elevator doors open and Sasha emerges with her laundry cart full of dirty sheets and towels. Sasha repeats this routine until all the dirty laundry is now in washing machines. Several hours later, Sasha folds the dried sheets and towels. Now she is ready for her second job at a local gift shop. This girl has energy! Well, last night was her last day of work. She stopped by the front desk and said goodbye to me in her slightly accented English (she speaks very good English - I wonder how well I could speak Russian is the situation was reversed?) I could tell that she was glad to be going home. I asked if I could take a picture of her. She agreed. That picture is in this blog. She then asked to take my picture. I was flattered. I don't get a whole lot of requests these days to have my picture taken. I asked for her e-mail address so I could send her a copy. I have so much respect for these foreign students who go to such great lengths to come to this country to work and do such a wonderful job. They are just another reason why I am glad I retired to Delaware.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

106,000 Miles




Today, as I was driving back from a friend's house in Rehoboth Beach, my odometer turned over 106,000 miles. A few minutes before my friend pointed out that I dripped oil on his brand new white cement driveway. I told him "No way!" and to prove it, I got in my car and moved it from where I was parked in front of his house to show him that I wasn't dripping oil. Oops! There, on the asphalt roadway were three telltale signs of oil. Egad. I backed up my car and there again, was another drop of oil. Okay. So I was in denial. A few weeks ago I took my car into a local garage to have them check out the oil leak. It wasn't leaking a lot but it does leak a few drops every day. The mechanic checked it out and told me (I'm terrible at this kind of thing) something about the drive train and fan or something like that. He gave me an estimate of $1,450 for them to "attempt" to fix it (no guarantee). He did mention that I had over 105,000 miles on my 1998 Subaru Forester. Hmmmmm. Is he saying my car is old (like me)? I decided not to get anything done at that time. I would live with the occasional oil leak. However, when my friend pointed out to me today the steady leak, I'm thinking maybe I better consider getting a new set of wheels to take me into the sunset years of my amazing life. My previous car was a Honda Civic. I had that car for 14 years and 56,000 miles. I keep cars a long time. I'm very fond my my red Subaru Forester. It was love at first sight when I first saw it. We've been through a lot together, me and my red Subaru Forester. I love this car but I've been thinking about getting a new car anyway before things start to go wrong like dominoes with this car. I've been thinking about a Toyota Prius from the time a friend offered me a ride in his last winter. Besides the great gas mileage, the interior of the car is roomy and comfortable. Due to my height and long legs (longer than Michael Phelps), leg room is a serious consideration for me. Also, I would like to have a GPS navigation system. A co-worker of mine also was starting to have problems with her car last week. She got it fixed when her engine light came on. Shortly thereafter something else went wrong with her car. She decided she needed dependability more than she needed to avoid putting out bucks for a new car. She took the plunge and bought a new car and is now very happy. I'm 66 years old. I figure this new car will last me at least another 10 years. That should take me well into my sunset. At least I want to do it in style. Now if I can just get it in fire engine red.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Is My Sun Setting?


January 3, 2008 I entered the Beebe Medical Center with an unbearable pain in my right side. Later it was discovered I was passing a kidney stone. Believe me, if you haven't passed a kidney stone, this is something you don't want to do. If our official government torturers knew how to replicate this pain, there would be no need for waterboarding suspected terrorists. During that emergency stay, I had an MRI scan performed on my body. It wasn't until a few nights ago that I read the full report. What I read confirmed what I suspected for a long time, I'm getting old! I am literally starting to fall apart. My 1998 Subaru Forester has over 105,000 miles on it, I expect it to start falling apart. In that case I can get a new car. Not so with my body. This is my one and only body. I think I've taken pretty good care of it in my lifetime but I am 66 years old. I'm afraid the wear and tear of the past 66 years is beginning to show. The MRA report says "there are multiple calculi in both kidneys." That means I still have kidney stones. Oh God! Not again. This is a result of my lifelong habit of not drinking enough water. I've tried to drink more water since I found this out but I fear I'm still not drinking enough. Even so, that won't help clear up the "calculi" that is now in both kidneys. My doctor tells me they will pass one way or another. Either in small granules or, heaven forbid, kidney stones. The report also says "there are calcifications in the liver and spleen suggesting granulomata". I don't know exactly what that means but it doesn't sound good. The next item is the kicker. It says "there is atherosclerosis of the aorta." That's hardening of the arteries! Proof positive that I'm an Old Dude. There are other notifications that don't make me feel good, the main one being that I have a slight case of emphysema. This from my years of smoking cigarettes. I stopped smoking my one pack a day of Marlboros on July 27, 1967. I had smoked for approximately 6 years. Apparently the damage was done. Several years ago I had a chest X-ray. My doctor at that time asked if I smoked cigarettes. I told her "Yes, but I stopped years ago." She told me that the chest X-ray indicated that I had scar tissue on my lungs which indicated that I had smoked cigarettes. One of the reasons I stopped smoking was that I got out of breath climbing the two flights of stairs to the floor where I worked at a bank in center city Philadelphia. I figured that if I was out of breath in my 20's, what would I be like if I continued to smoke. Probably dead by now. Last week I had the results semi-annual blood test at the VA outpatient clinic in Georgetown. It indicated that I was doing well in all areas, especially my cholesterol count. The doctor indicated that was as much due to my genetic heritage as to my diet. Thank goodness for that. Blood pressure was also fine. However, I did indicate to him that I probably needed another eye exam because I'm having trouble focusing on distant objects. He examined my eyes and told me I had some large "floaters." I asked him what was that. He said "all a part of aging." Uh uh. Another reminder that I'm getting old and beginning to fall apart. I look in the mirror every morning when I shave. I don't have a choice. I have to look or take the chance of cutting my throat. Who I see in the mirror isn't the same person I picture in my mind. I think to myself "Who is that old geezer looking at me in the mirror? Did I sleep with HIM last night?" Oh well, the MRI report also said "there are serpiginous vascular structures int he abdomen suggesting varices." I'm not even going to look that one up. I figure I have enough on my plate now. One thing is painfully obvious, a Michael Phelps I am not.



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michael Phelps







Now let us address the phenomenon of Michael Phelps. First let me make it quite clear that I am not criticizing this young man or his considerable accomplishments during the Olympics. Our country is proud to have such a hard working, determined young man represent our country in the Olympics. He seems like a fine young man. My problem is with the over the top coverage of him my our news media. I confess that I stopped watching TV coverage of the Olympics years ago when I realized that the US media basically only covered U S athletes. I also had a major problem with all the commercials. I used to love watching the Olympics, especially the live coverage. However, the constant chants of "USA! USA!" and the lack of coverage of the athletes of other countries caused me to lose interest. Another problem I have with the U S news media coverage is their habit of picking one of two U S athletes and build them up as the Second Coming. One hears the words "bravery, courage and hero" tossed around with so much abandon that those words have long ceased to lose their meaning in the context of Olympic coverage. Yesterday I read coverage about the aforementioned Mr. Phelps and how "brave" and "courageous" he was in obtaining gold medals for the U S. Give me a break. There is nothing brave or courageous at all about Phelps accomplishments. He worked very hard (five hours a day swimming) to gain his gold medals. Also, it helps that he has the body of a duck. Look at the cartoon I took out of the Washington Post yesterday. This cartoon drawing of Michael Phelps isn't too much of an exaggeration either. Phelps has a very long torso. He is 6'3" tall. I am also 6'3" tall. Phelps weighs 165 pounds. I weigh 159 pounds. Phelps inseam (leg length) is 30". Mine is 36"! The boy has short leg! His foot size is 14. Mine (and I thought I had big feet) is 12. The boy has flippers. His wing span is 6'7". I don't know what mine is but it isn't that wide. His hands hang 3 inches below his knees. My hands fall 3 inches short of my knees. Thus, Mr. Phelps was born with a built in physical advantage. Not to mention that his family circumstances afforded him the opportunity to spend most of his life in a pool swimming. I never entered a pool until I was 21 years old and in the Army. The first time I saw the ocean was when I was 22 years old. Am I jealous? Am I envious? You're damn right! I am riven with jealousy. I take nothing away from Michael Phelps. I wish him a long and happy life. But please, PLEASE, let us hear no more about how "courageous" and "brave" he is. There are many brave and courageous people in the world. Michael Phelps is no more or nor less than any of them. I fault our jingoistic new media. They would rather cover the fluff known as the Olympics rather than real issues in this world that involve brave and courageous people. And yes, I'm still jealous. Have you seen his hairline? I used to have one like that.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Photo Show


Okay, this blog is all about me. I found a new website to upload all my old pictures. This is my first try at creating a slide show on Photobucket. I may change this later but for now I'll give it a go. I was going to do a blog on the over selling of Michael Phelps but I don't have time now. The weather outside is just too gorgeous and I have to get out there and soak it up. By the way, I always considered myself a major dork when I was growing up. Some of these pictures prove that beyond a doubt. Enjoy!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Kiss And Made Up


The latest on the feuding neighbors is that the offending neighbor "kiss and made up" with the neighbor he offended. To be honest, I doubt his sincerity but I hope he backs off now and keeps a low profile. There is no need in this community, no matter what our differences, for cursing and name calling and showing disrespect to our fellow neighbors. Neighborhoods after all are just a microcosm of the world in general that we, as neighbors should do everything in our power to get along with one another despite our differences. We will always have differences, that is the nature of homo sapiens. After all, that is what makes life and living so interesting. Unfortunately, it is the extremes of human emotion and activity that sometimes makes life so miserable. Not that I'm an expert on this subject, but I do have some knowledge after 66 years of dwelling on this earth and my interactions with my fellow human beings. I have found that no one is 100% bad or 100% good. We all have degrees of goodness and evil in us. Unfortunately, sometimes circumstances bring out the worst in us. Other times circumstances bring out the best in us. However, there are those time when mental illness is a factor. It goes without saying that those circumstances and people are the most difficult to deal with. I previously lived in Pennsylvania in a beautiful home that I had built on the side of a hill. As beautiful and comfortable as that home was, it soon turned into a nightmare when new neighbors subdivided the land next to my 7 acres and built their home. The wife was homophobic and, once settled in, she soon made my partner and my life miserable by her constant threats, taunts, harassment, and spreading false rumors with the other neighbors all in an effort to get us to move so she could have a "family" neighborhood. My partner and I endured that nightmare for about four years until the situation finally came to an abrupt climax when she went to the local police chief and demanded that he arrest us because we were "gaywads" (her term). He patiently explained to her that he could not arrest us unless we were doing something illegal. She said "They're perverts, isn't that illegal?" The police chief soon lost his patience and threw her out of his office and told her not to return again wasting his time. From that moment on there was no more harassment from this neighbor. She "tolerated" us. While the taunts, threats and vicious rumors had stopped, the neighborhood still was unfriendly. We never felt comfortable again. Thus it was with great relief when she finally sold her house and moved to Boca Raton, Florida and, hopefully for her, a "nicer" neighborhood. A few years later my partner and I decided to move to Delaware to escape the rapidly increasing confiscatory Pennsylvania school taxes. The neighborhood in which we live now is very diverse. There are four gay couples (two male, two female), retired couples, minorities (African American, Asian and an English couple), second home homeowners who spend part of the year here, and even a native Sussex County couple (who live next door to us) who just had a baby. Up until last week I never personally heard a derogatory term applied to any neighbor. How ironic that the first derogatory term would come from a gay man, who should know better. He now claims he doesn't remember saying it. Perhaps he doesn't, he was that angry. Hopefully he has learned his lesson that nothing is to be gained by throwing out hurtful names just to make his point. We can have our differences but let us resolve them in a mutually respectful manner. In other words, apply the Gold Rule. Treat Others As You Want To Be Treated. Live in peace. Life is to short to do otherwise.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vacancy


There is a vacancy in my blue bird house. The baby blue birds are out and about. Unlike the last time, these baby blue birds apparently were ready for prime time. Some of the previous batch of baby blue birds hung around for about a week in the surrounding shrubs while Mom and Pop blue bird continued to feed them. The Purple Martins are long gone. Even the sparrows are not that much in evidence. Occasionally I see one of the sparrow little bullet bodies darting through my back yard. Yesterday there was a couple hundred cowbirds foraging through the neighborhood yards. Sure enough, there were several sparrows who invited themselves along to join the feast. Both are aggressive species so I wasn't surprised that the sparrows joined the cowbirds in their late afternoon fest.

For those of you who are regular readers of this post, you will have noticed that my postings have fallen off the past few days. After working the past weekend and Monday, I have the rest of this week off. I thought for sure I would be able to post daily. Not so. Several reasons. First, the excellent weather outside calls me. I love yard work, the sun and the fresh coastal seaside air of the eastern Delaware peninsula. The summer is coming to an end and soon I will be working full time at the hotel (August 27th.) Too soon summer will be over and the chill of autumn will be in the air followed by the cold of winter. The days are getting shorter. The time to take advantage of the waning days of summer is now. Also, we're having turmoil in the neighborhood. Drama in Delaware. There is a conflict between some homeowners and the board of directors concerning the expenditures of funds. Two days ago this conflict resulted in a face to face confrontation with insults, curses and the N word being flung about recklessly. Yesterday was a time of reconcilement. The waring parties supposedly kissed and made up. We'll see how long that lasts. However, when the N Word is tossed out there, it is very hard to undo that damage. Ironically, the person who used the N Word is gay. I witnessed him saying it. He denies it now. I told him that when he uses that word, no one hears his argument, no matter how justified his argument may be. I asked him how would he feel is someone was arguing with him and used the F Word. I don't know if that sunk in or not but I planted the thought with him. Ironically, both parties to this ugly event now say they want to sell their houses and move out of the development. Hopefully, that won't happen. As Rodney King said many years ago (after he was viciously beaten by LA cops), "Can't we all just get along together?"

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Do You Have Any Availability Tonight?"




"No, we are fully occupied." That the answer I give to the many phone calls I received this weekend asking if there were any rooms available at the bed and breakfast where I work. Notice that I don't say "We're sold out." That is so rude and crude. No, the correct answer is "We're fully occupied." I worked the 7 am to 3 pm this Saturday and Sunday. This was like a trial run for when I'm working full time for six weeks beginning August 27th when the regular daytime front desk clerk goes on maternity leave. It's been awhile since I've worked full time. It wasn't too long ago when I worked at my banking job and worked evenings at the Hampton Inn in Exton, PA. How did I do that? This was back in 1998 to 2001. I was way younger then. I didn't plan on my work schedule being like that, it happened gradually. I had left one full time job at a bank and got a temporary job working as night auditor at the Hampton Inn. After about three months my job at the Hampton Inn transitioned to the evening shift which I liked very much. Another bank offered me a job which I took with the consideration that I could leave that banking job an hour early each day I work the evening at the hotel. That situation worked well for a couple of years until there was a change of management at the hotel. I left the Hampton Inn and worked full-time at the bank. One good thing about working two jobs at the same time was that I was able to save a ton of money and it cured me (temporarily at least) of my shopaholic tendencies. An interesting development had developed since I moved to Delaware, I don't have the urge to "go shopping" like I used to when I lived in Pennsylvania. I'm not a psychiatrist, but the reason I probably was a shopaholic was that I was bored. I'm not bored now, especially this past weekend. Someday I'll write a book about my experiences in the hospitality industry. Believe me, real life is much more interesting than made up stories my script writers and novelists. After work last night, I felt like I had to unwind so I asked Bill to go with me for a ride down to the local McDonalds for milkshakes(which is miles away - nothing is close by here in Slower Lower.) That was a mistake. I got greedy and ordered large milkshakes for both of us. That was a large intake of chemicals. Then, on the way home, darkness descended on the roads and the rains began. It's been awhile since I drove at night and in the rain. The experience is like driving with a blindfold on except for the glaring headlights of oncoming traffic. So there we were, bloated with the sugar infused, chemical laced McDonalds milkshakes, wondering who had the bright idea to take a ride. One good thing, I got a nice sunset picture while sitting in the McDonald's parking lot. Next time we'll have smoothies at home.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Feathers


The baby bluebirds are no longer naked. See for yourself, they have developed feathers with a blue hue. I check the bluebird box every morning and I am amazed at how fast they are growing. Still not a peep out of them. When I open the front door box, the see a pair of big dark eyes looking at me. In this picture the main baby bluebird quickly took a peek and saw me then went right back to sleep. I think he's getting used to me peeking in his box every morning. Not to worry though, those big eyes open when Mama Bluebird stops by with a tasty morsel. This little bluebird will probably have a long journey ahead of him once he fully develops his feathers and is on his own. I don't know the migration patterns of bluebirds. It seems to vary by food sources and what is genetically implanted in the bluebirds. This is the second year that bluebirds have raised their young in this particular bluebird box. I have two other bluebird boxes surrounding the perimeter of my back yard but they don't seem to prefer those boxes. Perhaps they're facing in the wrong direction. Except for the occasional sparrow, those boxes remained empty during the summer season. Next year I will place another bluebird box on that side of my backyard. Perhaps I can attract another pair of mating bluebirds to raise their young. I now have other visitors to my backyard, humming birds. I don't know where their nest is but there are a lot of them. The humming bird feeder is placed on the railing of my back deck. That feeder receives a constant stream of visitors and needs to be refilled every day and a half. The humming birds are getting so used to me and Bill, that they don't even hum away now when we're out on the deck.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Summer Day


Yesterday was a typical lazy, hazy, crazy summer day here in my little oasis on the coastal plain of Sussex County, Delaware. Peaceful, relaxing. I am enjoying these few days off from work at the hotel before I begin working full time at the end of the month. I will temporarily replace the full time front desk agent who is going on maternity leave for six weeks. It's been awhile since I've worked five days in a row so this should be an interesting experience. It will be a much needed learning experience for me, working consecutive days. I will undoubtedly encounter all kinds of circumstances (working the front desk at a hotel isn't as easy as it looks folks) that will sharpen my skills as the front desk person. Even though I've worked off and on for the past five years at three different hotels (the Hampton Inn, the Marriott Residence Inn), there is always something new to learn in the hospitality business. New challenges. Never underestimate the complexity and vagaries of the guest (as we in the hospitality business call the "customers".) Someday I will write a book about my experiences in the hospitality industry. Many of my experiences have been stranger than fiction. The old saw "you just can't make this up" really does apply to this job. I guess that's why I love the job so much. I never know who is going to walk through that door or what new question they are going to ask me. When I think I've encountered every situation that is possible and answered every conceivable question, the next guest will ask me a new question. They will provide me with a new hoop to jump through. But, for now, those stories will have to remain with me because I hear several guests now read this blog. However, one thing I will say on this blog is that I love my job and I always look forward to seeing returning guests as well as meeting new guests. I not only have a lovely home here in Delaware and wonderful friends, I have the best job for me at this time in my life. I am indeed blessed.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Часть 2 Sasha




When we last visited Sasha, the new room attendant from Russia, she had just begun working at the bed and breakfast where I work the front desk. She was shy, unsmiling, and very serious as she kept her head down as she concentrated on doing her job of cleaning her assigned rooms. I work part-time at the Inn during the evening shift so I haven't seen her for awhile. Last Saturday night I saw her again. Now Sasha is a smiling and confident girl/woman. A remarkable transformation has occurred from the last time I saw her. She now walks with her head up and a quiet Mona Lisa smile. This past Saturday night we needed a room attendant to come in for the turn down service. None of the regular housekeeping staff volunteered. Some joked that the Mike (the manager) may have to come in and do it himself. Late Friday afternoon Sasha stopped by the Inn en route to her other job as a sales clerk at a local gift shop. I had an eureka moment. I suggested to Mike that he ask Sasha to come in and do the turn down service. He asked her and she readily agreed, saying she could come in after her work shift was completed at the gift shop where she was working. Thus, at 8:20 PM, Sasha confidently walked through the door of the Inn with her backpack secure on her back. She changed into her uniform, got her cart (to pick up the dirty towels and exchange them for clean, white fluffy towels) and a supply of packets of chocolate chip cookies shaped like walnuts to place on the pillows of the turned down beds. Two hours later, Sasha pulled her last cart full of dirty towels into the laundry room and left a now empty box of those chocolate chip cookies/walnuts. She changed out of her uniform and with a Russian accented merry "Have a good night Ron!", she went out into the darkness of the night. A happy ending to what was earlier a problem. Mike's night was saved (he had to baby sit his new baby because his Russian born wife was working at her waitress job at a nearby restaurant) and I didn't have to run around like a crazy man trying to man the front desk and perform turn down service on all the rooms (full house Saturday night) at the Inn. Thank you Sasha and may you have many happy days ahead!