Saturday, February 27, 2010

Car Wreck, Tsunami, oh my!

What a week I've had! I have been helping out the hotel all week serving breakfast for 160 folks from New York. Some are famous....many are not. For the past 7 days I have been getting up at 2am to get a shower, brew some coffee and be to work on time.

On Wednesday, I got 4 miles down the road and was stopped by the police at the airport intersection. There had been a horrific accident the night before and it was still being cleaned up and investigated. It ended up taking 10 hours to open the road. So, I was instructed to drive 58 miles the other way to get to the hotel. Normally it is only a 12 mile drive! That made me an hour late for work...but I decided there was nothing I could do about it. I didn't know at the time that a 17 year old girl had been killed by a drunk driver. I didn't know about the 88 year old tourist from France who was medivac'd to Oahu along with the girls mother. I only could assume there were fatalities and I felt gratitude for not being involved in it. So I turned up the radio, silently thanked MM for filling my gas tank up the night before and enjoyed the fact that I had a full cup of (kona) coffee to consume on the long ride to work.

Then today happened! I awoke once again at 2am to the news about the terrible earthquake in Chile and soon discovered that all Hawaii islands were under a tsunami warning. (the highest alert). The quake had generated a tidal wave that would take several hours to reach here, but we were told it was coming. So I called my daughter since she was up already living a couple time zones away...and then called my mom to wake her up and tell her I would be safe. I felt a little on the insane side because I was doing the total opposite of what we are instructed to do in a tsunami situation. I was headed to the beach to serve 160 of my closest friends breakfast. Do I need my job that badly??? Couldn't they have eaten donuts on one day? **me thinking out loud!**

Upon arriving on property we were given a form to fill out. I was told that without it I would not be allowed to leave today. I quickly signed that and stuck it in my pocket.

Then we were informed that the beach breakfast was cancelled but we would be involved in the evacuation and feeding of the resort guests at a location out of the tsunami zone at a private golf clubhouse. Coffee was brewed by the gallons. sugar baskets....check! Juice...check! water...check! But before we headed to higher ground, I decided I was going to drive my own car because if a big wave hit...I did not want to lose my "paid for" car! I also stopped at my locker, grabbed my purse, my civilian clothes, and my car keys and phone. The last two items I stuck in my pocket in case I felt the urge to "get out of dodge" later!

The group we were serving had one young girl as one of the contacts in charge. When I took coffee to their office, I saw that she was so scared she was crying and evidently had been for quite some time by the redness of her eyes. I went into "mom mode" and gave her a big hug and assured her that she was safe, we would take care of her and everything was "okay". She later came up and gave me a hug, thanking me. :)

I did mention that these are New Yorkers, didn't I? You see, not so many years ago, my baby girl was in New York on "9 11". She was scared and traumatized. I couldn't be there. But New Yorkers took care of her and today I felt like I was in some small way, able to pay them back. No, it was probably not the same people, but in times of emergency, everyone should pull together as a family, right?

We served breakfast. Not just pastries, mind you, NOOOO a continental would not have done! This buffet had fruit including papaya, pineapple, strawberries, cantaloupe, and honey dew melon, eggs, hashbrowns, fried rice, bacon, turkey bacon, mango chicken sausages, and we did an omelet station just to further the "wow".

At some point in the breakfast, the director of Sales and Marketing was going around with his phone cam and interviewing people, asking them how the breakfast was etc. One table of people were hamming it up a little and "tongue in cheek" said, well, I was a bit disappointed that there were no pancakes or waffles!". The manager immediately "apologized" and said that for the NEXT tsunami he would be sure to have pancakes. I heard that and could not pass up an opportunity to impress them! You see, I knew that the chefs had made pancakes....HUNDREDS of them infact...but someone had forgotten the butter and syrup so we didn't put them out. I scurried into the back, plopped 3 pancakes on a plate and rushed out to the table asking, "Did someone order pancakes?" Everyone laughed. Only at a 5 star hotel! The guest then said, "what would happen if I had said I wish there were Bloody Mary's!"? I couldn't help him there!

Then 30 minutes after shutting down breakfast, we broke it down and set up lunch with vegies, rice, fresh fish, chicken, pasta, burgers and hotdogs with chips, deli sandwiches, salads, AND dessert!

Ouch! I should remember to stretch before patting myself on the back that hard! :)

The wave was expected to hit Hilo which is 90 miles away and on the other side of the island, at 11am. At that time we were too busy serving lunch to think much about what may be happening a few hundred feet below us on the coastline. They brought in entertainment to sing and put on a little hawaiian show. I must say, though that part of it struck me as a little bit "Titanic-esque". "and the band played on...." But I'm sure the guests enjoyed it.

By 1:00pm, I was pooped. It was HOT, I hadn't put any sunscreen on that morning so I was sunburnt, and no one would tell us we could go home even though we had stayed past our shifts. So some of us just let them know that we had families and we had done our part. I am sure many people may have stayed. Kudos to them! But I had all the fun I could stand for one day!

By 3pm the surges of waves had mellowed and the tsunami warning was cancelled. So I guess I will be getting up again in the morning at go serve those 160 New Yorkers breakfast again. I wonder if they will remember all that went into keeping them safe today....*sigh*. I guess it doesn't really matter. I did what I needed to and I felt good about it.

In the end, we served breakfast and lunch to 600 guests. The 160, were the ones we were scheduled to serve...the rest were other hotel guests and homeowners at the resort.

So much drama. Please let tomorrow be boring!

a hui hou


Mom said...

I am so thankful that the tsunami didn't amount to much!! The thought of you on the beach was very unnerving for your Mom.
I love you!!!

Sasaki Creations said...

Mom, I still have many more chapters to write in my life story. I won't let the last one be a sad one. Too many bags to make. Too many places to see.

Sasaki Creations said...

I did want to leave a follow up on 'the day after'.

I was pushing a big cart down the path after serving the final breakfast and I saw one of the federal judges jogging. I waved and said, "have a safe trip home!". He stopped, came up to me and extended his hand. So I shook his hand and then he just grabbed me, hugged me, kissed me, and hugged me again. He said, "I just can't thank you enough!"

Earlier at the breakfast I was waiting on the contacts for the group and I laid down a picture of my daughter next to the young girl who had been so scared. I said, "This is my daughter. She looks a lot like you. A little over 9 years ago she moved to NYC and ten days later called to tell me that she got a job in Manhatten. The next day was 9-11. (then I started to cry...but had to finish) "I couldn't be with her, but the New Yorkers took care of my baby, and I was honored to help you all yesterday". By then, all four women were in tears and I had to walk away and catch my breath. The young girl held me and in tears said, "I was so scared. I didn't know what was going to happen."

I feel that I touched some new lives this week, and was touched in return. That is something I feel is an important part of life.

Mom said...

Now you did make me cry! I am so happy to hear that the people who you took such good care of on the day of the tsunami warning acknowledged all of your hard work!
A sincere thank you can go such a long way.
I am relieved to hear that you have "many more chapters" to write!