It Simply Didn’t Matter… Back Then.

Hotel Lobby
BobLee
July06/ 2019

July 6, 2019SaidWhat BL

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It Simply Didn’t Matter … Back Then

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I’ve had the following Incredible Insights bouncing around in my head for several years.  Best to get them permanently lodged into The Cloud for generations yet unborn.

The purpose of today’s musings is not to bore you with My Adventures… BUT for YOU to either (1) identify with… or (2) be thankful that your Life has been so much different.

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Prior to becoming “The Internet Legend” I had a real Life and a real Job with bosses and co-workers and all the corporate mundanity that involves.  Looking back, all that was simply “fodder gathering”.  In the 70s-80s- and early 90s the whole “Internet Legend” thingy was non-existant. There was no Internet. … (Insert your own AlGore joke here?  Those are sooo trite.).

No one said “Look out when you’re around BobLee.  He’s taking notes for some day when he is a famous Internet Legend.” It is quite possible – likely – that many/most of the folks I interacted with back then still don’t know what ever became of me.  A precious few like “Princess Fairmont” do; but most lost touch with me just as I lost touch with them.

For almost twenty years I was in the Big Time Fancy Hotel bizness.  We’re talking Big Ol’ Fancy Hotels with 800-1000 rooms and about as many employees in major metropolitan cities all across the Fruited Plain – Kansas City – Dallas – San Antonio – Boston – White Sulphur Springs – et al.   Companies with names like Hyatt and Sheraton and Fairmont and Western International (Westin) and The Greenbrier.

About 3-4 years into those 20 I realized that while I really enjoyed certain aspects of “the hotel bizmess” I REALLY didn’t like Corporate America much at all.  Plus, I had diverted into a sub-specialty of “the hotel bizness” that had only tangential “to do” with what appealed to me about “big fancy hotels”.  What “success” I achieved from that point on was in spite of “the quiet desperation that the masses of men” supposedly lead lives of…

Hotel Manager

The #1 Best Job ON EARTH – if $$$ was not a factor – is “Night Manager” (11 pm – 7 am) at a Big FancyHotel.   It’s More Better than “Vice Cop”.  The More Big Fancy the Hotel… the More Human Bizarros you’re gonna encounter just about every night.  If I can’t “come back” as an MLB Umpire… that’s what I wanna be.

In Las Vegas or Dubai … OH WOW!

OK… you charge by the hour so let’s get to today’s Topic – It Simply Didn’t Matter… Back Then.

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For those twenty years in those 5-6-7 locations around the country with all those co-workers both within my specific sector as well as throughout the hotels … AND the many thousands of guests I interacted with …

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I never knew the political persuasion of A Single One… and no one knew mine.

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It Simply Didn’t Matter … Back Then.

There were CHARACTERS as there are in every business office / establishment.  I watch sit-coms like The Office or WKRP or Mary Tyler Moore or Seinfeld or… or… and see exact replicas of Carey Swope … or Pat Wyatt … or Linda Pearce … or Ben Yeakley … or Mike Stajel … or Pedro Prado … or Nancy Fagin … or Frank Brown … or Connie Pion … or

Kevin “Zero” McGee… Bellman at The Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City… “Zero” had memorized EVERY line of dialogue from every Marx Brothers movie.  “Zero” likely has left this mortal coil.  I bet Zero’s “leaving” was memorable.

I would tell “Kid” as she was matriculating thru each stage of her Life Education to take note of the various personalities she was encountering… how she interacted with them… how successful that interaction was to her objective at the time… BECAUSE…

There are only so many “types” and, after awhile, almost everybody will remind you of somebody somehow.  Consult your records for how to / or not to deal with that “type”.

The exception – That Character Unlike Any You’ve Ever Met Before – is THE only possible reason to endure the sheer agony of social interaction.

Going back further than my adult work experiences… in college I never knew or cared about anyone’s “political persuasion” nor they mine.

You know where I matriculated – UNCCH -and it’s OVERT Political reputation NOW.  “Back in the day” it was not overt at all.  If anyone ever talked about elections or candidates or political views it was not in my presence.  Sure there were student political groups but those were for “nerds” who wore ties to class and ran for student government offices.

30+ years after college I began reuniting with old acquaintances and it got a little dicey.  One fellow that was one of my closest friends in college … and I had totally lost touch with him … we somehow reconnected and agreed to meet on a Kenan Saturday. This was in the Clinton / W Bush Era … before Obama and waaaay before Trump.  I don’t recall who said what about what, but we both seemed to realize “UH OH” … “He’s changed in the past 30 years!”.   YA RECKON.

Our halcyon college days of yore remain halcyon but neither of us saw any reason to “reconnect” beyond the polite – “Man, it sure was great to get together again.  Lets (not) stay in touch…!” … and we haven’t.   Bre’r Kennell and a handful of others more than fill my modest quota.

Getting back to those twenty years when I was a corporate nomad either being transferred or answering a headhunter’s siren song…  I worked daily with a lot of different people in various parts of the country and – thinking back on certain ones at certain times in certain places – I cannot guess what ANY of their “politics” were then … or might be now.

OK… the ones that were “kinda odd” and “socially awkward”… maybe I can guess what fork in the road they probably took.  Wink… wink.

As in any office environs, there were people I “liked” and others I “tolerated” because you kinda have to in most office situations.  The usual “stew” of personalities that tumble out of any office tree you shake.  I am confident that I left a similar wide spectrum of memories with them.  But those differences had nothing to do with “politics”.

The fancy hotel bizness has always had a certain appeal to “the gay stereotype”.  I don’t know why.  Thinking back to each hotel I was with… there were “gays and lesbians” among the 800-1000 employees at which one.  I don’t recall any “issues” or harassment or snide remarks.  Not being “gay” maybe I was unaware of it if there was.

I did witness a fascinating ethno-racial situation in the late 70s.   The “boat people” were arriving from Viet Nam etc.  The unskilled entry level positions in a hotel are in Housekeeping.  Housekeeping staffs tended to be largely AfricanAmerican back then.  As VietNamese, Cambodian, Thai , Asians etc were hired in Housekeeping positions, they would refer their relatives.  Much like Hispanics and Koreans do.Housekeepers

These new workers had a different “work ethic” than their predecessors.  They were more reliable… took more pride in their work… had fewer issues with co-workers… etc.  I’m not a workplace psychologists so I don’t know why … but Asians soon replaced Af Ams in most hotel Housekeeping Depts.

Then one of’em (Asian) discovered the opportunities in the mani-pedi Nail Salon business and they all left to do that.  Indians (Patels) took over the roadside motel bizness.  “Why” of stuff like that fascinates me.

I’ve been out the hotel biz for 25+ years.  Don’t know which ethnic demographic fills hotel Housekeeping Depts these days.  Maybe its otherwise unemployable Millennials with Gender Studies Degrees ???  Nah … that work is way too hard for them.

.Do you recall “the politics” of your co-workers in the 70-80-early 90s.  Which, coincidentally was well before the creation of Social Media …

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A Lot More BobLeeSays Columns … LINK

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BobLee

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Tar Heel John
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Tar Heel John

yes I do. I flew to Harrisburg to visit him after his pro career ended. He was on the downhill. What a great competitor.

Tar Heel John
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Tar Heel John

Do you recall Tom Buskey, you, and I having breakfast at the Crown Royal. I was staying there on business and Buskey was staying there with the Toronto Blue Jays. When I arrived to my room there was a hotel gift basket and a note to call you. You told me Buskey was there and could I join you two for breakfast the next morning.

ncsu1987
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ncsu1987

Realizing I’m late to this conversation, so I’m not sure if anyone will see this. . Despite my advanced age, I still labor at the bosom of corporate America. My employer is Fortune 500 and financially conservative, but in recent years, under recent leadership, has become decidedly more liberal in its public persona. HR led the way, of necessity, but the C-level has become more willing to take stands and/or positions that will certainly alienate some employees and customers. This is very strange to me, even from the “slightly-left-of-center” part of the spectrum where I sit. . In the workplace,… Read more »

Caroline du Nord
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Caroline du Nord

I read an advice column (don’t recall where) about ten years ago when social media was just starting to take off (at least in my world) and they didn’t recommend anyone try to ‘reconnect’ with old pals, girlfriends etc. Those bridges were crossed (and sometimes burned) ages ago and the landscape has changed, even though it may not be immediately apparent. You have your memories, but if you happen to bump into someone from your sordid past then by all means be polite, but if one tries to reestablish a relationship… it will end in tears, GUARANTEED! Also, my wife… Read more »

Dr Wire
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The ease of manipulation of social media to sell/promote/justify/force feed an opinion is now on full display. Electronic bot blast to make 10 activist posters appear to be 100,000 angry customers or “normal” citizens. We saw it on display with HB2 and is full throttle tool of any self-righteous PC devotee. But in retrospect similar tools, then media controlled, were on display during the Duke Lacrosse public lynching. . The higher up the socio-economic ladder of a person it seems; the more intense is the pressure to speak out for the victim rightly or wrongly. It has become noise to… Read more »

Former96Heel
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Former96Heel

Recent hotel observation: We took the kids on a quick trip to a very large, child friendly hotel-resort thing. I quickly noticed that the housekeeping staff on the floor was all AfAm, male and female, and this is the very first time I had seen this ever. Almost always, the attendant in any hotel is female, and 99% of the time, either Asian, Hispanic, or Eastern European. That exception has been in Appalachia, where I have found the lone white American female. 2 questions, do hotels skirt immigration rules to staff that job? No judgement intended in the question whatsoever,… Read more »

Doug
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Doug

No note today but did you mean the book The Formula To Go Pro by Garry Jones (don’t know him) which I learned about this AM from NN.com. Can’t wait for your take on the end of sports nationalism. I got over it about 20 years and recent events have reinforced my sentiment.

Doug
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Doug

I wonder just how many more times it will take to convince some of your concerned friends that “the lesser of two evils” is what a lot of voters did back on 11-11-16? 2020 looks like an instant replay.

Da Judge in Charlotte
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Da Judge in Charlotte

Whenever I read political posts on Facebook and the vitriolic comments they provoke, I remember wise advice a friend and lawyer once said:

“Opinions are like a••holes. Everybody has one, but most people have enough sense to keep theirs covered.”

It’s good advice these days.

Robert P Kennel
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Robert P Kennel

BL, really enjoyable column, and so true. As you might know I was a registered lobbyist in Congress (part of my job) during parts of the 70’s, 80’s 90’s and had to work with both parties where the politics were a little more sociable. I had the opportunity of meeting with and working with 7 US Presidents going back to Ford, (missing only Clinton). I’ve also had the pleasure of working with 9 NC Governors who were all genuinely good people. I remember your and my first meeting at a taproom in which I raised my long term appreciation for… Read more »

Wolfdon
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Wolfdon

Just goes to show BL at one time or other we were all board monkeys, but I never questioned your back politics ????

Wolfdon
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Wolfdon

Some what off topic I guess but just wondering if at some point, prior to becoming an internet legend , did you occasionally visit message boards as “Bobby Lee Swagger “?

Former96Heel
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Former96Heel

I stay away from any of my coworkers social media 100%, unless they are normal and it revolves around kids and grandkids pics. The moment I see anything political, I hide their feed. I make it a rule not to friend subordinates or reports. These aren’t rules, just my way of making it in 2019. I assume (possibly incorrect, but I would rather expect the worst), that all millennials are as underexposed in politics as they are in the rest of life’s areas. Therefore it may shock me if any of them weren’t raging Libs. . I hear very little… Read more »

Doug
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Doug

Like many of your regular readers I missed this current phenomenon you speak of although there were rumblings of how social media and engaging with consumers was going to be the future. One such meeting was with a blend of senior management and young whiz kids explaining to the old farts how direct engagement with consumers through social media was going to change our business….how these preferences would help us design new products etc. I said you mean like Ford did with Edsel? The more experienced people in the room chuckled, the young ones were puzzled and stared blankly. .… Read more »

NCSU68Grad
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NCSU68Grad

Interesting take. Your comments about politics mirror my memory. I do remember an incident where politics were discussed….the morning after the beatdown of the hippie protestors in 1968 at the Democratic convention. Mayor Daly’s PD certainly did believe in “riot control” or perhaps riot prevention in those days. . As to the most unforgettable character and also one that probably somewhat warped my young and impressionable personality. He was a “bull of the woods” that smoked big Cuban cigars and drank a fifth of Crown Royal every night. But he was as sharp as it gets and was faster on… Read more »

BB.in.derm
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BB.in.derm

No, I had no idea what political spectrum people/friends were, nor they mine. Hell, I didn’t even think about mine. Our biggest concern (other than making it through classes) was what we were going to wear any given night out! THAT’s how simple life was 45 years ago!
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BTW, love the pic of the hotel lobby. I miss the beauty of class, which none have now.

TJ.In.Richmond
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TJ.In.Richmond

Like you BobLee… I am long gone from “having to go to an office and interact with others”. … I suspect the rules are quite different these days. I can only imagine “staff meetings” if someone gets OFFENDED…
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I doubt I could deal with “cubicles” either. They call those Prairie Dog Villages … !!! Fun read as always BL.

Queen City
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Queen City

I started in corporate America in the early nineties and the only topics that were considered sensitive and off limits were discussions around religion or employees pay grades. If politics ever came up in conversations the tone was always civil. The same could be as sports fan during the same time frame. I had no clue what my favorite players or coaches views were on taxes, abortion or gay marriage. I’m even old enough to remember when you could tune into Sports Center and see actual highlights from the games!