Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Day Day

My friend Wendy, from way out west in California, read my blog posting "Summer Guests" and left a comment that she remembered me telling some of my hotel stories when we worked together at Mohonk.

Before I recall here the story she mentioned in her comment to that blog post, I want you to take the time to visit her website:

Directly from her website, "I am a Collage and Poetry Fusion Artist. Blending together mixed media abstract art with my original poetry and prose I create "Mixed Messages." Each piece inspires a collage of thoughts and ideas based on what the viewer sees and interprets. I always seem to find inspiration in the sensual and romantic; this is reflected in my poetry and also in the textural aspects of my work. Wanting to reach out and touch one of my pieces might be a natural reaction. I have a love of old postcards, postage, and tags; they often turn up in unexpected places."

What struck me about Wendy's work from the beginning is the play on words with art. When I see her work, it helps me to think differently and to look for another meaning in other things that I see. She inspires "thinking" while "looking."

I was sort of playing around with that idea many years ago, but it was words with people action.

Wendy mentioned that she remembered my "Doris Day Day." In my early hotel management years at Grossinger's, from time to time, I would find myself having to deal with employees who were frustrated and evidently needed venting time. I instructed staff members that they had to "behave" in public, that being anywhere there was a guest, and that the correct place to vent was in a private space, preferably by themselves. That didn't always work, either. You could see tension grow (that happens when dealing with many, many people in a service-oriented business all day long), and some staff members would get cranky. Meal and cigarette breaks didn't do much to take away the stress.

So, I came up with the idea that staff could meet with me individually, for ten or fifteen minutes, and vent about any situation that was bothering them. The ground rules were that they had to tell the truth, they could not use profanity, they could not raise their voice, they couldn't refer to anyone in a negative fashion, they couldn't hit me or throw things at me either, but could talk confidentially with me (as long as we weren't breaking any laws that deemed the information go elsewhere) and I would give them information so that they could handle the situation themselves.

I wanted to set a tone right off the bat and, as I was listing communication conditions, I thought that no one represented "being nice and working things out with everyone" better than Doris Day. So, periodically, I would note on the chalkboard in the front office, "Doris Day Day." The day that message appeared I was available for discussions.

Staff started looking forward to it. I heard some things I probably didn't want to (those personal issues can get pretty sticky) and, if I hadn't promised confidentiality, heard some stuff that would make some pretty good stories. There is something about changing the names to protect the guilty, right (or was that the innocent?)

Whatever, now to my mixed message for the day. Today was a Summer day. However, I did Spring things today, cleaning, washing things, airing stuff out, throwing away accumulations of no-longer-needed items. To have a real Summer day, one needs to do summer things to make the summer day a summer day day!!! Right?

Real soon, we have to have a summer day day...beach, swimming, grilling outdoors, laying out on the lawn at night counting meteors and, to make it official, margaritas!!!

Of course, too many margaritas and then it's "night night!"

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