The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer, Part One: The Baker 6
The Pipe’s contacts arranged for him a general management job at one of the most prestigious hotels in the city. People had to be in the industry for decades before they get a shot at a job from that caliber. It cost the Pipe five minutes and one phone call. He called in an old outstanding favor from one of the most powerful people in the hotel industry and corporate America in general. Harold York had been described as a man made of steel. Anton was terrified when he found out that he would be working for him. The pipe didn’t care if he succeeded in the job, he was having fun. For him it was all entertainment, a break from the monotony of smoking in the garden.
He was briefed for weeks on how to deal with the pressure and York himself. They warned him to be on his best behavior for York was unparalleled in his ruthlessness. Finally the day came. He was given a lift by the family driver. He almost had a drink in the car. He stopped himself. How bad could it be. He walked up the stairs of the hotel in his Savile Row suit thinking he didn’t want to be there. He felt unhappy, he despised commerce, waste of time.
He reached the front desk on autopilot, almost bouncing from wall to wall.
‘I am here for Mr. York.’ He uttered.
‘Mr. York has been waiting for you. You are three minutes late.’ His mouth dried up in an instant and his lips stack together like a dead fish washed up on a rocky beach. Before he could say anything the somewhat quietness of the lobby was shattered by the bold hard spoken voice of a man from the pipe’s generation. His voice was bouncing off the marble and gravitating on Anton’s head.
‘Anton, last time I say you couldn’t walk. You haven’t changed much.’
‘Mr. York, your legend precedes you.’ He managed.
‘I am going to be as forthcoming as possible with you. This is hard work and you don’t look motivated for it. Do you want a drink to loosen up a little?’
‘Yes please, a bottle of whiskey will do me right.’ He joked unsuccessfully.
‘I have no doubt you can manage one.’ Said York coldly.
The more he tried to appear humble and professional, the more he looked like a spoiled rich kid with pockets full of arrogance and whiskey. He followed this hardheaded old man all day nodding and pretending that he cared. Ate his organic berries, yogurt, honey, salmon and asparagus. As if listening to his condescending language was not torture enough. He was made a mockery of just because he happened to be born in a wealthy family and York on the contrary worked his way up from nothing with wit and hard work.
Anton felt like apologizing to the world. ‘Sorry world, I didn’t mean to be born in money, health and luck. I know it’s a terrible thing I’ve come about in that fashion and I wish I could undo it all. I have had a head start yes, by accident of birth I happen to be ahead. That doesn’t mean I am perfectly happy and don’t have the drive to achieve for myself. On the contrary I am double backwards pressured from my family and society. Neither of both seems to give me a break on the matter. My family despises me for two things, not wanting to step in their shoes and wanting to achieve something on my own. Society trashes me for having it too easy, which allows me the freedom to do whatever I want with my life. Sometimes I think that the Pipe is the only person in the world who has some sense left in him.’
Mr. York was very thorough. He ran him through the entire operation of the hotel in thirteen hours on the first day. He only stopped to eat and visit the restrooms all very brief and calculated breaks. He covered everything without repeating any information. He was the sharpest mind Anton had ever seen at work. He was flattered that York took him for somewhat clever since he skipped the things that went without saying or were inferable from previous information provided.
He grew on him a little over the course of the day, he thought. It turned out it was more than a little but York had the immense self control to only let subtle impressions to convey out of him. He had no idea that running a hotel took so much. Until that day the only thing he new how to run was himself. He got everything he needed by a press of a button. Which more or less was like living in a hotel since he was born. He felt spoiled and useless, nobody in the world ever needed him or asked him for advice. Why would they, he had knowledge of absolutely nothing outside whiskey brands. He even knew the telephone numbers of his favorite distilleries in Scotland by heart. The Pipe had planted a seed and was now watering it.
next chapter: THE BAKER 7
previous chapter: THE BAKER 5
all chapters: The Baker, The Butcher and The Brewer
more by PETER ODEON
photograph by Petras Gagilas