Parts 2 3 4 5 6 7
It's funny, when Psycho posed this question in the comments the other day, I started pondering it, how did I end up here? I've told the story dozens of times, but it always seems incomplete, because it's been kind of a long road. So this will have to be done in little pieces, starting from the beginning. And I think it would be best to start back in 1993 when I was living in Venice and working at the Ritz Carlton Marina Del Rey as a dining room captain. I was single and sharing an apartment with another Ritz worker and his partner. One day in August while preparing the dining room for the dinner service, something happened that changed the course of my life forever. It was just another ordinary day at work.
"Thank you for calling the dining room, how may I assist you?" I said rather annoyed into the telephone. The hostess had gone off to the bathroom or something, and the rule was three rings - no more, and it was everyone's responibility. I had the Ritz lingo down.
"We'd like a reservation for 7pm this evening."
"And how many in your party, madam?"
"There will be 8 of us and we'd like a booth. By the window."
"Please forgive me madam, but unfortunately our booths do not accomodate more than 5 persons and are situated in the rear of the dining room. Might I suggest a large table at the window. The seats are really quite comfortable."
"Oh yes, that would be lovely. We're in room 1207. Simmerman."
"Very good Ms. Simmerman, we look forward to your arrival at seven o'clock this evening."
Valeria the hostess returned, a feisty young woman from Brazil who was currently considering suing the hotel for sexual harassment. When we had had the grand opening of the dining room, we assembled the staff and took a picture together, during which the Italian born Food & Beverage director took the opportunity to goose the 19 year old Brazilian girl, both hands a quick squeeze. There were a dozen of us there, and we all saw it as she shrieked and burst into tears and stormed out crying. Neither the action, nor the reaction were typically American, and we all stood there shifting on our feet feeling ill at ease and then slowly dispersed.
I had been seen consoling her on more than one occasion since, and as was my nature, coaching her to stand up for herself. So I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised when the F & B director approached me that late afternoon and said, "Hey Torn, how would you like to go to Hong Kong?"
"What do you mean?"
"To help out the opening of the Ritz Carlton in Hong Kong. You would be gone for 6 weeks, but you have to leave day after tomorrow."
"Uh, Uh, Uh Okay." I stammered, realizing this was a rare opportunity.
"Great, I'll let HR know, and we'll give you a call tomorrow. Do you have a passport?"
"Yes," I replied.
Immediately, my thoughts swirled about preparing, and wondering in what capacity I would be helping in Hong Kong.
When I got home that night, I discovered that my passport had expired. Just one month prior.