Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Be My Guest

For some reason growing up I began to stutter. From the age of four to sixteen, I was just a complete mess. I was not able to form one sentence without stuttering. It was so severe I remember driving my dad crazy to the point where he would yell and scream for me to "spit it out" for what I was trying to say. My mom would jump to my rescue and tell my dad to back off that he was making the situation worse.

For years my parents took me therapist, psychologist, and any other doctor that could "fix me" and find the cause and the cure for my troubled time. To no avail, there wasn't one through all those years that could help me. Finally, at the age of sixteen and my parents at their total wits end, they found another therapist that literally had the growl of a lion and yes, even the bite similar to a lion.

I remember very vividly sitting in his chair on the first day with my mom next to me. My dad felt it was worthless and told my mom with such distain and anger that it was a waste of time and we just have to let it go and accept that I would stutter the rest of my life. But, my mom never gave up. So, as we sat in this musty dirty office watching the puffy over-sized grey haired doctor reading over and over the notes from the countless other doctors then picking up the half-eaten jelly donut and actually sucking out the jelly he looked at me and studied me like I was a lab rat.

He never said a word to me or to my mom he just kept studying me over and over then finally he leaned back in his beaten down chair and clearing his throat he finally spoke.

"Get her a job as a waitress and don't come back till she has one. Pay the receptionist on the way out and have a great day."

We just sat there dumbfounded and so unclear of his statement. My mom tried to intervene his request and he quickly cut her off.

"Mrs. Wright, this is all a mental thing, a blockage of words from what she wants to say, what she is trying to say, to actually saying it."  

So, we left and my mom began the footwork. I had never tried to get a job before and she took me under her wing like a good mother does and she helped me land my first job at "Bob's Big Boy" I still remember the bun hairpiece I had to find and the pantyhose I had to wear. Well, as soon as I learned I had to speak to people, let's just say I was fired within fifteen minutes of being hired.

Then there was five other restaurants that hired and fired me then finally, I walked in to Coco's restaurant and found Ginger. Her daughter had the same problem as me and Ginger then took me under her wing. She gave one seat at the counter and instructed me to just say, "hello" that was all. After working there for one week, my stuttering stopped and I was fully engaging in conversations with other guest all around the restaurant.

Little Did I know...

Little did I know that my stuttering would ever lead me into the food industry but it did. I stayed working as a waitress for years. I had made connections through out the industry such as managers of hotels, motels, venues, and still it never dawned on me that this was the start of my career in the event planning industry.

I lived and worked in Long Beach, California at a restaurant called "Shore House Café" I had regular customers that came in each day and it was great because I knew just how much I was going to make each and everyday in tips. One couple I had been waiting on for almost a year sat in my station and within minutes their voices were raised and becoming a spectacle for other diners eating there. I quickly walked over and asked what the argument was about and that was when it began, February 18th 1987

And It Was Created...

My customers shared how their daughter was getting married and they were having issues with the wedding. They had exactly 55 guest arriving from out of town and they had wanted to them to stay in ONE hotel on the SAME floor with interlocking rooms and had no success.

So, I shared how I knew some managers from all the years of working in the hospitality industry and I could possibly lend a hand. That same day I went to the brand new Sheraton that was up and running for maybe less than two months and walked right in and spoke to Jose Cuzco the hotel manager a man I had met at one the hospitality functions about six months ago.

Jose quickly remembered me and, upon speaking to him I shared how I was helping with guest coming in for a wedding and I needed 28 rooms for the 55 guest arriving and they all needed to be on the same floor with interlocking doors. It was done! Jose gave me the room numbers and the confirmation of the rooms for the bride's parents.

Once I shared this with the bride's parents this still never dawned on me that this was leading to my career. I thought I was doing a favor and that's how I saw it. BUT! the bride's mother had different plans for me before I even knew it. She called me and said that the caterers were wrong and the food ordered was wrong. I quickly thought what am I going to do? I knew nothing about working with caterers and how to even talk to them.

Yet, when I did talk to them, it came out as if I had been doing this for years. Trust me I shocked myself! I just took my experience as a waitress and used that. So there I was juggling caterers and hotel guest and finalizing all the steps.

Then It Happened!

One must remember, cellphones were not created yet so the only form of communication we had was landlines and answering machines at home. I got home from work one afternoon and my answer machine was BLOWN UP with calls from the bride's parents, the Sheraton, the catering company and some company that I had never heard of that were taking care of the invitations.

All I remember thinking was how did I get to this point? What happened and why is this mother-of-the-bride calling me over and over let alone the catering company, the hotel and some invitation company? Well, I called the bride's mother and all I heard was weeping tears of how everything was wrong. She begged for my help, no, she pleaded then cried, then begged.

All I kept thinking was, "I have no clue what I'm doing, how did I get so involved?" I swore at that minute I would never offer any help for anyone ever again. But through her tears and begging I broke down and told her I would help as a friend. I grabbed my note pad, my coffee, my smokes and sat down and began calling everyone.

I quickly noticed when one fire was put out through my efforts two more fires began with the planning of this wedding a wedding where I never even yet met the bride. I noticed that I was able to handle the fires, I was able to keep my cool and make my demands of what the bride's mother wanted and I followed through.

Finally, after weeks of planning and the bride's mother telling me I MUST attend the wedding, that was when my unknown talents came through even more. I ran that wedding as if I had done hundreds of them. I kept the guest happy, arranged the food placement, decorations, gift center, the music, etc. etc. When the wedding was over the bride's mother handed me an envelope which I thought it was a thank you note.

I never opened it that day as a matter of fact I went home tossed it into my basket of bills that needed to be paid and died! I was exhausted I think I slept for two days or so it seemed like. I turned off my phone and just slept. Three weeks later I found that envelope and opened it finally and to my shock I found a check for $10,000 dollars!

The total budget for the wedding was $100,000 dollars and ten percent was the going rate for wedding planners I found out and well that is what I was paid. Six months go by and I received another phone call from a bride's mother wanting my services for her daughter's wedding. At first I paused and wondered if this is what I wanted to do? Did I want to exhaust myself once again, did I want to put my life on hold once again?

Be My Guest

After waitressing for so many years my favorite saying for all my guest were, "be my guest" for whatever they wanted and making their demands come true. It stuck with me and that was when Be My Guest was created. I took that second wedding job when then turned into fifteen more. I taught myself how to make ring bearer pillows, floral arrangements, and I even learned about wedding dresses.

I studied weddings inside and out and I became quite good at it. Now, years later and with tons of experience under my belt, I now have a different vision. I just hope it can come true.