It was early October 1987. I was newly married and questioning my hotel career plans. I aspired to be a general manager, but this hotel environment veered me off track. As these thoughts occurred to me, this was one of the places where fate and other people changed my life’s direction.
I’d been with the hotel for 18 months. Just another day at the office started with a ringing phone. It was the hotel manager’s administrative assistant requesting my appearance in his office. Now!
What did the manager need to see me about? My head was spinning with the possibilities. Most of them not good.
I didn’t know what I might have done to create this summons.
The hotel was a very dramatic place.
The most recent controversy with the food and beverage manager was my discovery that the evening chef was taking beer home. I was told to look the other way. This chef was cooking steaks and other high dollar meals for another manager every evening and therefore it was considered an even trade. That was how the game was played in this hotel and the food and beverage control department was like the secret police with no teeth.
I must have overstepped some invisible, contradictory and hypocritical boundary and spoke to the wrong person. Maybe that was the reason for this summons.
I waited 10-15 minutes at the manager’s office. Those minutes went by like sitting in the dentist chair waiting for him to appear to pull teeth without numbing medication.
Finally, a sweet and reassuring voice interrupted my thoughts, “The manager will see you in his office now.”
The office was a completely foreign place for me. The manager smiled, revealing a certain uneasiness considering I saw him holding all the power as my judge, jury and executioner.
I held back from screaming, “I was simply doing my job and following orders.”
He sighed, “I bet you’re wondering why you’re here, David.”
“Yes!” I replied, “My imagination was running wild.”
He smiled again, “David, I have good news and bad news, which would you like first?”
Seriously? What game was he playing?
Wanting desperately to get this over with, I replied, “The bad news.”
He looked me in the eye, “We hired your brother to be the new hotel controller here.”
A brief pause and neither one of us moved. Then he followed up with, “Since this company has a strict no nepotism policy, you can no longer work here after the end of the month.”
My brother what?
Why didn’t I know about it before now?
I was pretty sure my brother had my phone number. Of all the reasons I thought about possibly being fired, this one didn’t rank anywhere in my imagination. This scenario wasn’t anywhere on the radar. How could it?
None-the-less shock gave way to relief. At this realization, I believe I took my first deep breath in several minutes.
Halleluiah! There was no scandal getting pinned on me.
Then it occurred to me to ask, “So, what’s the good news?”
“The company offered you a transfer to another one of our hotels in British Columbia.”
“Doing what?” I asked.
He frowned and said, “Good question. I don’t know. Let me find the memo.”
He shuffled through a few stacks of papers. I could hear the wall clock ticking, mocking me. Tick Tock Tick Tock.
Then, he pulled out an envelope and stared at it. Tick Tock Tick Tock.
After what seemed like hours, the manager retrieved its contents, read it to himself for a moment. Tick Tock Tick Tock.
The manager replied simply, “Staff accountant – revenue.”
I went home that Friday evening for a long talk with my new bride of three months. Were we going to move to British Columbia in three weeks for me to transform into, what? An accountant?
On one hand this move, this new job made no sense. But on the other hand, it was a chance to get out of a job I grew more and more concerned about and uncomfortable with. It was a chance to start over at a new hotel in a new city. A city three time zones away from this hotel’s mess.
* * * * *
My brother was not aware of the hotel’s nepotism policy. He was waiting to surprise me with his new job news until the paperwork was completed.
My wife was not happy about the circumstances of the move, but we both did get excited, alternating with a little scared, about the move all the way to the west coast of Canada!