The Best Summer Job

Summer is here and that means all the high school kids and the college kids will embark on their greatest lesson they can possibly get.

A summer job.

Yep, no matter what you learn in school, the summer job is what you will talk about into  your 30’s and 40’s.

Now, we can talk about the worst summer job and here is what mine was.

But, let us talk about the BEST summer job.

1988, Valet Parker at the Opryland Hotel.

This job ruled.

We got to drive all kinds of cars from Mercedes to BMW’s to Corvettes.

Remember, this was 1988.  SUV’s were not around.

And what people left in their cars, unreal.

Wallets, purses, magazines, mail, etc.  You name it, they left it.

And drugs, mainly pot.  All the time.

One time a family pulls up in a nice van.  A really nice van.

I remember they were from Chicago and in town to visit family and spend a week, yes a week, at Opryland USA.  They pulled up and I handed them a ticket, they unloaded their luggage, he tipped me and off they went into the hotel.

In the seat behind me, a pizza.  A large pepperoni pizza.

And the Jojo was hungry.  Really hungry.

I waited to the family went into the hotel and then, told another valet parker what they had left in the van and to meet me in the parking lot.

I parked the van, he opened the door and we ate a whole pizza in less then 3 minutes.  The first bite I took, pizza sauce squirted down my shirt and it was a mess. We finish the pizza off and I walk back to the portico, hoping to find something to clean my shirt off.

Damn!  The owner of the van was waiting for me.

“Hey, I wanted to get the pizza out of the van that we left in there.  Do you mind going to get it?  Thanks.”

Holy damn bovines.

“Yes sir, let me go see and be right back.”  Think Joe, think.

I walk to the parking lot and then walk back up.

“Sir, there is no pizza in the van.  I could have sworn that one of your kids had the pizza box when you guys walked in.”

I said this with a giant stain on the front of my shirt.

Pause.  Pause. Pause.

“OK, they probably did but I didn’t see it up there.  Thanks again.”

He never came back, thank God.

We met all kinds of celebrities that summer.  Kenny Rogers, Richard Dreyfuss, Dr.J., Herschel Walker, and every, I mean every country music star that was popular back then.  Everyone of them.

When Kenny Rogers pulled up, a valet got his keys and  had no idea who it was.

“You know, you look like Kenny Rogers.”

“That is because I am.”

No tip.  I will always remember Kenny not tipping.

We would take the cars out on Briley Parkway and see how fast they could go. We hit 120 one time in a Sterling.

One guy took a Mercedes and then, went and picked up his girlfriend and they went out on a date.

“What happens if they come down and want their car?”

“Tell them you can’t find the keys.”

They never came down.

We laughed that summer. We drove great cars.  We saw celebs.  We just had fun.

We made a lot of money on certain nights.  Other nights, we barely made any money.

One night, a valet had not made a dime and this sweet elderly couple pulled up.  He got them all set up and they didn’t tip him.  He waited til they got inside and then started yelling at them for not tipping.  He was waving his arms back and forth and the wife, thought he was beckoning for her.  She started to come back out and all the doors at the hotel then, were glass and you sometimes couldn’t tell what was a door or a window.  She hit the window full stride and was knocked out.

Yes, she was OK.

Countless memories from that job.  And yes, as valet parkers, we go through everything in your car.

Remember that.  Almost as much as I remember the best summer job ever.


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