Sunday, November 06, 2005

Stormy Weather

Before we get back to the routine of blogging and to the theme of this blog (?), I would like to share a chuckle I have been enjoying since our nasty hurricane. You have to have my kind of weird mind to enjoy this, but, hey, give it a try. We live in Hyatt’s Lakeside Village, a pretty plush outfit, I’ll admit. But no matter where you live, nights are quite miserable without light, air conditioning (here in the tropics), telephone service, hot water, TV cable, etc. We lost it all when Wilma struck on October 24th. This year was far better than last year. Then we couldn't flush even if we found our way to the loo. But Lakeside Village has an enormous generator which gives power to the halls, elevators, Auditorium, Lobby, CafĂ©, Library, Concierge desk and other common areas. Most of us have electric lanterns so night-time existence is possible, but not much fun.

When we looked out our window we could see the lights down stairs in the common areas, but we thought we could also see a chandelier lit across the way in an apartment. We asked around and came upon a rumor that said that during construction some rocket scientist moonlighting as an electrician hooked up the generator emergency lighting to three apartments by mistake.

Now, stop right here and suspend judgment on the validity of this rumor. Assume it is true for the remainder of this paragraph. Put yourself in the place of the director of marketing of the outfit. Those three apartments would be worth a mint when hurricanes visit. Should marketing raise the price on them? They are worth it. But what would be marketing’s answer if a potential customer asks, “Why the premium?” Should the salesperson say, “Because it is pure misery around here when the hurricanes strike.” The customer's natural reply, "What hurricanes?" Then of course, what does the Director of Resident Relations say when asked, “How come my neighbor’s refrigerator is working and I’ve lost all my pate and my wine is warm?”

I am so happy to be retired and not having to solve the dilemmas of the business world! Retirement means never having to decide the tough ones.

The staff here is really miraculous. Most left their homes and bunked down here on cots. While worried about their own families, they smiled and reassured the frightened and confused elderly folks. The cars buried under the collapsed carport I showed a couple days ago largely belong to staff. They put together two hot meals a day under the worst imaginable conditions. Many of the young kids that normally wait on table while going to school stayed and were a great help. While acting like boy and girl scouts away from home for their first camp-out, their laughs and cheerfulness were wonderful medicine for the nervous among us. Our security people were heroic. They stayed in touch with 911 and assisted in cases of serious need. Under stress, the wisdom of old age sometimes gives way to childish pettiness. While I was wolfing down a breakfast of cereal, hot and cold, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, juice, coffee (oh how we suffered!), I listened to a lady ask a staff member for fat-free milk for her cereal. He told her that it was all gone. I can’t begin to repeat her tantrum word for word, but it was a beaut! He tried to explain, but when that obviously wouldn’t work, he just stood by until she ran down. He then convinced her that her doctor would forgive her a day or two of two percent fat. He smiled a lot while being sympathetic and more or less calmed her. (I’d have booped her on the head with the cereal dish.)

Meanwhile, the bridge marathon game went on.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Some folks just don't know when to show some gratitude, do they? That marketing dilemma is a doozy! :) How great for all of you that the staff was so reliable and giving during a time of much stress. Kudos to them. And to think their cars got clobbered to boot!