Sunday, September 8, 2013

Summer, Part 1: Bell Hoppin' at Zermatt

You may notice that the blog has some new colors (you might not have noticed the last change because it was only there for one post--but there it is, it's new now). It happens that these are the colors Everyday Magic wore back when I first started this blog three years ago. I can hardly believe how much has happened since! School, work, joy, tears, BYU, Israel, love, life... it has been a challenging but ultimately beautiful time. Here's to a happy third anniversary for Everyday Magic--and here's thanks to you for reading it for so long.

Confession: I pretty much didn't journal (or blog, as you know) for the last two months of the summer. Shame, shame, shame... I wanted so much to have some consistency in my journal writing. Darn it! A whole two months of my life missing from the record! I guess I shouldn't complain--it's not that long (confession #2: I've gone without writing much longer before now). My solution for the two month gap is this little blog. I want to have an idea of my summer on record, so I am going to write a little about my summertime in the next couple of posts. Pardon our dust and bear with me!

I had two jobs this summer. That's right--two! I can just picture my mother with a pair of pom-poms cheering over my shoulder, "Full time work! Full time work! Woohoo!!!" Yes, two jobs, in total amounting to something like 35 to 40 hours a week. I will tell about them both, but for this post just the first. I was hired at the end of may to be a bellman at Zermatt resort in Midway.

Yes, Bellman... though in my case, Bell Attendant (we are not gender discriminatory here in the hospitality industry). I didn't actually realize that I was hiring myself into a man's profession until I showed up and found that my coworkers were, in fact... men. And that all of the uniforms were about five sizes too big. However, our Bell Captain, Lee, told me that they have had female bell staff in the past, so it's not too far off the beaten track. As far as the uniform went, my mother worked another one of her miracles and by the next shift my vest fit me just right (sans about four or five inches from the sides).

I spent the first two days getting the grand tour of the whole property (which was far more extensive than I thought) from Lee. Lee and Brian (another of the bellmen) challenged me to memorize the name and location of every conference room in the Matterhorn Conference Center--and to their surprise, I actually did it. I learned how to greet and assist guests, how to valet park cars (backing them into their spaces so they are easy to identify), how to drive a large thirteen to sixteen seater van to shuttle people or pick up laundry, and how to run the carousel. Before long I was all set to go.

It was a great job--probably the best I've ever had. The thing that really made it was the work environment. The other bellmen were wonderful. Brian, always with a smile on his face and a joke at hand in spite of the arthritis in his ankles. Ricardo, the epitome of professionalism and so cheerful and helpful to everyone. Caro, always a tease and commander of the fifteen minute parking spaces. Bruce, always happy and always ready to put a smile on your face. Lee, example for us all, leading us with gentle guidance and complete trust. There were a couple other bellmen as well, but they had specific time requirements that conflicted with mine, so I saw them only on rare occasions. I also got to know the front desk staff as well, and loved them all. Belle was probably my favorite--we spent a lot of time on quiet days chatting about anything that came to mind--from kids to music to schools to chocolate.

Much of the summer past remarkably--the hotel had its ups and downs, its fasts and slows, and I worked hard pushing bell carts and running errands and just enjoying my job. There were a few incidents of particular note that I will mention. Enjoy.

Experience #1: There were always conferences going on at Zermatt. The Utah Teachers Association came once, and DoTerra oils (the conference center smelled very sweet and herb-like when they were there). Procter and Gamble--a huge manufacturer--came once, too. When they were there we had to memorize the names and faces of their VIPs so we could call them by name, and every so often we had to spray the lobby and vans with Febreeze. My favorite conference, however, was the International Rhet Syndrome Foundation conference. Rhet syndrome is an extremely rare debilitating genetic disorder on the X chromosome (so only girls can grow up with it)--a genetic lighting strike. The conference was for parents, but many girls with Rhet syndrome were there, too. Lee started preparing us weeks in advance--all of the bellmen had to read about the disorder, paying particular attention to the needs the girls might have. None of the girls I met could speak, the majority could not walk, and many had different habitual behaviors (ringing hands, etc.). However, we knew from our reading that the girls were not mentally disabled and could understand whatever we said. We were able to be friendly to them, smile and say hello and call them by name when we saw them. We were also able to help with transport wherever needed--wheelchairs, the vans, etc. It was a joy to have them around and a joy to be able to make things easier for them and for their parents. On the last day the group was there, all of the bellmen wore the Rhet Syndrome Foundation shirts they had given us as a thank you gift, showing our support for the group and their effort. One of the parents, Matt Heinburger, is a friend of our family in Heber. After the conference he expressed fervent appreciation for our service. He said that most people don't know how to act around his daughter or any of the other girls, which often makes things uncomfortable. He said it was wonderful to be in a place where there didn't need to be any worry or discomfort for the well-being of the girls. It made me so happy to hear that--it made the work worthwhile.

Experience #2: One day later in the summer a guest came up to us and asked us to bring his car around. Bruce pulled the key from our cabinet, took one look at it, and said,  "Mustang. It's mine!" And ran off to the valet lot. When he drove the car into the pull-around, the guest was inside getting coffee. Bruce beckoned me over to the window, pointing to his phone, and asked me to take his picutre. He smiled in the driver seat while I took his picture in the beautiful cherry red Mustang. I had to laugh--if only the guests knew what we were doing with their valet cars sometimes...

Experience #3: This one is a general occurrence. In the lobby was a great big glass water jug. One of the bellmen's job was to refill it every day. The thing weighed as much as a small child. I could carry it, but it was very heavy--especially when full of water. Brian tole me early on that I was not allowed to touch it while he was on duty. All through the summer that's how it was--Brian took care of the water jug every day, in spite of his arthritis-pained feet, because he didn't want me to worry about it. I was always touched by that. 

Experience #4: In July, my Grandma and Grandpa Pullan went on vacation. They had great intentions about not telling anybody were they were going. When my dad talked to Grandpa that night and asked where they were, Grandpa would only say, "I'm on the porch." The next morning at work, Bruce sauntered over to the bell stand asked, "Rachel P-U-L-L-A-N?" "Yes...," I replied. "I think your grandparents are staying at the Homestead." "What? I--oh, of course they are." I called to their room that very morning to make sure they were going to come see me. They were going to surprise me, and found it wildly funny that I had beaten them to the punch. I saw them every day for the rest of the week.
Later in the summer, I was working late into the afternoon and was there when Lee printed a list of guests who were coming in that evening. Bruce, looking over the list, suddenly looked up and asked me, "Do you know somebody named Grant?" I snatched the list, and lo and behold, there was Grant Pullan, right there. The moment I saw it, I remembered--that day was Grandma and Grandpa's anniversary. Before I left, I had a box of chocolate covered strawberries and a card sent to the room they were staying in--much to the delight of the desk staff and the other bellmen. I was scheduled to work the next day, and I spent the morning anxiously waiting to see a familiar face in the lobby. Finally, at nearly 11 in the morning, the desk attendant called me--and I turned around to see my Grandma. She laughed as I ran to her and called out, "you little stink!" I had spoiled their surprise plans again. We laughed about it the rest of the day.

Experience #5: On a dreary, rainy, cold afternoon, I went to visit the bakery out of a lack of something to do. I chatted with the bakery girls for a while, as they were unoccupied, too. I caught myself glancing at their gelato display. Without thinking about it, I sighed, "Oh, that looks so good--it reminds me of Italy." The girl nearest me smiled and asked, "Do you want to try it?" I said I would love to and asked for the chocolate hazlenut, expecting a spoonful. Oh, no--she filled a whole cup for me. It tasted just like Italian gelato. I stood behind the bell stand, out of the rain, and made it last as long as I could all morning. It was like heaven.

Well, I guess I should probably stop talking now. That's a little sampler for you of my brief career as a bellman (woman--whatever). It was the best job I've ever held and created so many memories. I loved every minute--from the carousel rides to the funny uniform to the Swiss/German music in the pull-around to the late nights watching the moon rise.

Thanks, Zermatt--I had a blast.

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