The Best Summer Job Ever

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, if you are lucky, the summer job is what you will talk about into your 30’s and 40’s and on and on.

My favorite summer job?  1988, Valet Parker at the Opryland Hotel. This job ruled and I am pretty sure I was the worst employee ever at the hotel.  Much more on that coming up. 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, drugs, mail, etc. You name it, they left it.  Even food and that is a big mistake.

Here is one example of why I was the worst employee and why you shouldn’t valet.  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. An absolute mess and plus, it was about 100 degrees outside.  We finish the pizza off and I walk back to the portico, hoping to find something to clean my shirt off.

The worst fear was soon realized because the owner of the van was waiting for me and I knew exactly what was about to happen.

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

“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 pizza sauce stain on the front of my shirt.  A stain so big that it almost looked like a painting.

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

God answers prayers because this guy never came back.

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.   Yes, we looked through all of their cars as well.   Speaking of Richard Dreyfuss, I got him a taxi and it pulled up and I opened the door.  He got into the back and I said, “It is small in here.  We are going to need a bigger taxi.”  He looked at me said, “Don’t ever try comedy.”  They drove off but only a few got that joke and it absolutely killed.

When Kenny Rogers pulled up, a valet got his keys and had no idea it was really him. “You know, you look like Kenny Rogers.”  Kenny paused and very sarcastically said, “That is because I am.”

And 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.  A car that I have never seen before and since but it was great going up and down Briley Parkway.

One valet took a Mercedes to park 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 until 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.  I stood there, half in horror; half in hysterics.

Countless memories from that job.  We got invited to all kinds of parties by the guests and it was just an amazing summer and 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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