|Common Core Mission Statement|
Through a series of miscues and unfortunate events my family found itself strapping on the brunchbag at the Cranberry Marriott slightly south of Pittsburgh on Easter Sunday morn. For openers: Not my kinda joint. For the record: It was someone from outside my immediate family's big idea. O.k. fine don't want to be the "wet blanket" as my own family growing up used to call anyone who dared naysay an idea with majority backing. So we donned our resurrection finery, rolled aside the boulder and strode into a hornet's nest of manic corporate bots whose obsequiousness and servility knobs had been cranked as far as they go and torn off.
I am a friendly guy. I smile a lot. I nod and ask how's it going? to strangers out of habit. Being civil and friendly is my daily course. Confronted with the bristling solicitousness of the Marriott "servers" I was put back on my heels. If you asked for a refill of your drab watery coffee the young woman would take a huge inhale and erupt with a gleaming grin and a voluminous "ab-SO-LUTE-ly! before sprinting into the kitchen for her carafe. As we were escorted to our table the young fellow in the crisp suit and perfectly coiffed hair seemed to be implying we were about to leave earth behind. Is this your FIRST TIME to our Easter Brunch? he inquired, fairly trembling in anticipation. First and last I wanted to croak but I smiled and nodded and let him have his way. And so it went. Would you like Ham or Lamb Sir? Ahhh excellent choice. It's our own recipe... gloated the kid at the carving station. As if my choosing ham somehow revealed true moral character as well as a deeper intellectual refinement absent in most of the lambivores. But when the guy 2 people behind me opted for lamb he too was praised for his perspicacity in breakfast meats. This is starting to remind me of the Sunday morning radio bookies during football season who promise their sure winner to anyone who calls then give the first 100 saps Tampa and 3 and the second 100 who call get Carolina -3. Strikes me someone here is having it both ways and I am being asked not to notice. The corporate pep talk these poor dopes must have endured had to have been nothing short of transformational. I have sat in sales meetings and been amazed at my fellow human's ability to generate orgasmic levels of enthusiasm in their company, its products and the positively titillating opportunity to try to sell it to the unwary consumer. Maybe this is how they always are who knows, as I said not my scene. But you have to think there was a little something in the air for The Big Day simply by the way everyone with a Marriott name tag on their chest seemed to have spent half the morning huffing on the Marriott meth pipe.
Which brings me to my connection between this display of vapid corporate histrionics and our current trend toward building a workforce of drones who enthusiastically embrace their futures as low wage proles who do as they are told with a gleaming smile and no backtalk. In the words of my esteemed colleague Michael Fiorello they are socialized into "Passive acceptance of the exercise of arbitrary power, a high tolerance for tedium, absurdity, and surveillance/data mining...What the so-called reformers really mean by students being "career ready." If you force kids to spend 17 days reading the same story over and over and annotating, close reading and annotating some more, you will be well on your way to creating the kind of worker who takes unlimited grief from management, accepts arbitrary power plays from same and never asks why the emperor has no clothes because asking is really not part of the job expectation. To be fair my 16 year old son busses tables in a nearby Italian eatery a few nights a week. He tells me that's what servers are SUPPOSED to do and how they are SUPPOSED to act. O.k. fine. I guess the clincher for me came as I stepped out from between 2 tables into the path of a kid carrying probably 75 pounds of stacked china atop a huge tray perched on his shoulder. I was half out of it trying to remember if I had ever spent $300.00 on brunch anywhere else ever and as I looked up the kid was closing fast. I'd stepped right into his way and quickly stepped back to keep from taking him and his plates to the floor. Sir, I am SO sorry he grunted I DO APOLOGIZE as he whirled past me and took the kitchen door turn on 2 wheels at about 100 knots. I walked directly into his path causing a near keystone cop like collision yet he bit his lip apologized to me. Service or no service I'd have felt better if I'd heard a "Damn, dude..." from under his breath. You know the way real people talk.
Appendix A: The unbelievable punchline of this fiasco somehow escaped me until I was driving to work the morning after posting this. It happened that the Marriott had engaged the services of someone dressed in an Easter Bunny costume to wander among the comestibles and guests wordlessly waving his paw and trying not to terrify too many of the little brunchers. As he made the rounds at or table bobbing his head and waving his ridiculous paw from side to side in a tight arc my son Michael offered up a Susan B. Anthony dollar coin his aunt had given him for the Easter Bunny's inspection. He held it in front of his face and looked at it then walked behind me standing there for a few seconds. I assumed this was where he retrieved the coin from my ear or left it balanced on my shoulder or whatever trick it is people in bunny costumes have up their sleeve. Instead he stepped around me and took about three quick strides to the kitchen door along the back wall and disappeared never to return to our table. Whoever this clown was, the manager's crackhead stepson, the ne'erdowell brother of the head waitress, I'll never know. But I do know the Easter Bunny in a place that charges $40.00 a plate for brunch stole my 9 year old son's coin and ran away. So much for the veneer of servility, obsequiosness and slavish attention to detail. They hired a $7.00 an hour Easter Bunny who left a skidmark right down the middle of their coprorate table linen. Priceless.