Additional Therapy Required
They were the matter-of-fact, high-wire requests every local innkeeper and inn-team fielded and responded to over the course of a frenetic summer in the Berkshires.
These were life’s serendipitous brushes with greatness in sweet and personal ways. People serving people. If we took too much time to think about each of these moments, we could have flirted with even higher levels of stress knowing that if we screw “this” up, the whole world would surely know!
On this day, Mary Tyler Moore might request a brownie sundae in the wee hours of the morning. Or Ann Jackson would require an impromptu ride back to NYC for husband Eli Wallach, who wasn’t feeling well.
Martha Argerich would require a well-tuned piano in her guest room. Such sweet sounds! Or Garrison Keillor could be stamping his feet because he was unhappy with his room.
Or Shimon Peres might prefer a bottle of Bordeaux this morning. No matter that his personal time zone was out of synch with Eastern Standard Time and local liquor laws.
Or Lyle Lovett and his band would prefer that our New England chef prepare huevos rancheros for breakfast at noon. Or Marlo Thomas might need some help setting up her off-premise suite this morning.
There was the moment James Taylor simply asked to purchase a newspaper. Or the night Ray Davies came to dinner. Or the time Buzz Aldrin required some technical help with his laptop.
The answer to such requests was always yes–of course–right away in the same way “How high do I jump?” was followed by “How long do I stay up there?”
There was that one day in particular when Marge Champion’s massage was the day’s top priority. That is, until Senator and Mrs. Ted Kennedy called from the road to request a massage therapist be ready on standby for their imminent arrival.
Oh, by the way “our limo is just passing through Worcester now.” This could be loosely translated as, “We need two massages the moment we arrive in order to make it to the grand opening in time.”
Yes. Of course.
It really was all very simple. Making it happen was what we always did. After all, a career in service is just that–a ministry of serving guests well and the daily dispensation of The Platinum Rule–serving guests the way they wanted to be treated.
It really isn’t WHAT you know at moments like this but WHO you know! In this case the Kennedy’s were well on their way and my loyal assistant Pam began the process of calling all the licensed, high quality massage therapists on our list.
All too soon, we arrived at the bottom of the list without success. Pam already knew it was time to bring out the big guns—for instance leveraging area massage therapy coordinators. I had to leave a message for my friend “LL”. She had her finger on the pulse of local massage therapy, although on this day she was busy like everyone else. I had to leave a message for her.
Minutes began passes like seconds as Pam had to resort to the “phone book”—we were approaching that desperate territory now somewhere between the rock and hard place. But at last, Pam found a therapist who WAS available right away.
About this point, I found myself taking a gulp of air—it was a male therapist who was available. Was he our only option? Yes. Did we know anything about him? Not enough.
In a moment of loneliness at the top, I gave the ‘go ahead’ not feeling quite settled with my decision. The therapist would arrive in 15 minutes and the Kennedy’s would arrive moments later. For better or worse, this die was cast.
Just then, the front desk reported the massage therapist and his portable massage table were arriving at the front door right now. I met him at the door and personally ushered him to the suite. It was show time.
I was cringing inside that the therapist’s appearance was not quite spa worthy as I walked him to the Fire House suite. There, I introduced him to the arriving Senator and Vicky Kennedy. It was a joy to see them as always, but now there were massages to attend to and their schedule was quite tight.
I left the three of them in the suite and I returned to my office still on pins and needles. Then the telephone rang. It was my friend LL. “Now you call!” I said, and she asked if I was able to find someone.
I told her who we found, and a deafening silence commenced on the other end. “What is it, I asked?”
“He was terminated for reports of improperly using his hands.”
More silence–as my entire career began passing before my eyes…
“What do you mean?!?”
“I can’t say anything more.”
As I hung up the phone, a feeling of dread cast its pall over my very life.
As happened frequently Kennedy family members would enjoy enjoyed a full and high profile stay and in this case, two days later they left before I could say goodbye. The uncertainty was unbearable!
At a chamber of commerce meeting a few days later, I had a chance meeting with a key Kennedy politico who provided my first chance to ask how the visit actually went. “Brooks, they had a wonderful stay as always!”
Not satisfied, I pressed for more feedback relative to the massage therapy. I was able to exhale when I heard: “The massage therapist was fabulous! Thank you for arranging this on such short notice! Ted and Vicky loved him because he was such a staunch democrat!”
A handwritten thank-you note followed from the Kennedy’s as it did after each family visit. I was breathing a little easier. A few days later, an article appeared in the local newspaper detailing the charges against the massage therapist. Somberly, I faxed it to LL. I don’t know about the massage therapist’s career, but mine would happily go on.
Somehow, a bullet was dodged! Joyful moments of service to others have always provided amazing dimension to life. Such is the pleasure of hospitality and a life spent serving others well.
© 2014 Brooks Bradbury | Brooks Looks