Thursday, July 31, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Me at the Hampton Inn 1999

The year is 1999. The place is The Hampton Inn, Lionville, Pennsylvania.  The job is hotel front desk clerk.

After 37 years in the banking industry (trust operations), I decided to take a part-time job at The Hampton Inn as a weekend night auditor.

Me with my co-worker Angelo Vasquez at the Hampton Inn, Lionville, PA 1999

The first job I had when I got out of the Army in January of 1963 was as a night auditor at the Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel at the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh, PA.  

I had no experience for that job.  It was the first place the employment agency sent me for a job interview.  The Pittsburgh Hilton Hotel hired me at $250 a month, less taxes, payable on the 15th and 31st.  I had to pay the employment agency a fee of $250 for the job, money which I borrowed from my brother Isaac (I paid him back).

Back then a night auditor's job was a lot different than it was at the Hampton Inn. There were six of us.  Each one of us had to audit (check the math) of each one of the hotel's six restaurants. Then we had the head auditor who would settle our figures which we entered on a columnar pad.  

Being a night auditor back in those days was an easy job.  We went in at 11 PM and left when we settled our restaurants, which was never past 1 PM.  With the exception of my friend Fred Hunt (who was also an Army veteran), all the other guys were daytime students earning a little extra money.  Very little by the way because after taxes, $250 a month didn't go too far.

I worked a very short time at the Marriott Residence Inn in Lionville, PA in 2006 - before I moved to Delaware

I lived in a furnished one room apartment in an old Victorian house in Shadyside, Pittsburgh.  My rent was $8.00 a week.  I had to share a bathroom with 
four other apartments in this old mansion.  THAT was a problem because there was usually someone in the bathroom when needed to use it or when I was in the bathroom someone was knocking on the door asking "Will you be long?"  Not a great question to ask when one is on the hopper (need to concentrate).  

I only had the hotel job in Pittsburgh for three months before I quit.  I was lonely.  I went to Pittsburgh after I got out of the Army because I planned to come out as a gay man (which I did) and a friend from my Ft. Meade days (he was in the Air Force) lived in nearby Elizabeth, PA.  I thought Pittsburgh would be my nirvana but it didn't quite work out that way.  Like I said I was very lonely.  Not that I lacked for attention when I came out but I got too much attention, the wrong kind.  But that's another blog entry that I won't go descend to those depths here.

I quit, went home to Downingtown, and after a two year detour of working as an accounts payable clerk at Lipsett Steel Products in Coatesville, PA; I met Bill, moved in with him and got a job at Girard Bank in Philadelphia.

Thirty-seven years later, and four banks later, I was out of a job.  I saw an ad for "Weekend night auditor" in the local paper.  I applied for it and got it.  Guess what?  The night auditor job was now a LOT different.  First, I had to stay there from 11 PM to 7 AM (try that).  And . . . . I had to work the front desk, something which I didn't have to do at the Pittsburgh Hilton.  We all worked in the basement of the hotel, never saw the front desk.  I did see Milton Berle once, bumped into him as I was going in the elevator and he coming out.  One of my (very) infrequent brushes with celebrity during my lifetime.

I was reluctant to work the front desk but I was assured there was "very little to do at that time."  Of course that wasn't true but guess what?  I LOVED THE JOB.  I liked the challenge of working the front desk.  It was fun.  And here I am today, still working the front desk.  

The hotel where I work now doesn't have a night auditor who works from 11 PM to 7 AM. We're too small.  However, I do run the daily night audit before I get off my shift at 11 PM.  

Tomorrow I am working the next three days at the hotel.  Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3 PM to 11 PM.  Monday and Tuesday, day shift from 7 AM to 3 PM.  Working as a hotel front desk clerk (or "agent" as we're now called - la de la da) can be challenging and sometimes frustrating but I can honestly say I love the job.  I am now working my eleventh year as the person you see when you walk into the hotel who says "Are you checking in?"

By the way, I have NO pictures of my Pittsburgh Adventure.  I have thousands of pictures of my life history but for some inexplicable reason I never thought to take photos (or even a camera) during those three months I was in Pittsburgh.  For one thing I didn't have ANY money and another, I was way too caught up in the coming out as a gay man and fending off of my unsuitable suitors.  

So this is this week's edition of "Throwback Thursday."  I didn't mean for it to get this wordy but you know me.

Where I work now, a small, exclusive boutique hotel in Lewes DE - "checking in?"


Linda said...

All very interesting!

WARPed said...

Hi Ron,

Milton Berle, you say? He of legendary proportions?

Or was that Forrest Tucker...?



pat888 said...


You've got to be among the dapperest of the front desk agents. Bet you had a big collection of ties.


Ron said...

Thank you Linda! I'm glad you find my Life Story interesting. We all have one. I'm always fascinated to read other people's life story but folks rarely if ever write about themselves in blogs. I don't know why other than issues of privacy or maybe they think other will be bored. I'm sure I'm boring some with my recollections but I enjoy writing them and that's why I do it. If some folks, like you, enjoy reading about it, then that's all the better. Thanks again. Encouragement helps!

Ron said...

I heard "that" about Mlton Berle. Alas, he was fully dressed when he left he elevator and almost bumped into me. What I thought was unusual he had a wet cloth on his head. I guess to hold down his slicked back hair. That was the syle of the day.

Ron said...

You don't want to how many ties I had. I've given away about 100 of them. But I still have way too many which I'm unlikely ever to wear again unless I get a job at some fancy schmancy hotel.

Ron said...

By the way, that purple shirt I was wearing in my "Marriott" photo, I gave away to the Veterans' Thrift store. I'm working on it Pat.

Ur-spo said...

lovely photos!

Ron said...

Dr. Spo,
Well, I am a lovely man. :)