O Hour, Charleston,SC

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Backrooms and Scandals in Paradise

     Let me start off by saying I love the islands around Charleston. The beauty and history are like no place on earth. Hero's, villains,scoundrels and fools have all etched their name in the history and fabric of Kiawah and Seabrook Islands. For better or worse its not the islands fault so don't think I hold a grudge, I don't. Sometimes though, through sheer luck or maybe bad timing you find yourself in a place to see, hear or worse participate in something  that most guest would never believe happened. These things did happen, I was there.
     In the mid 80's I worked as a conference coordinator(corporate meeting planner) for Kiawah Island resort. My office was upstairs of the real estate office in the Straw Market, adjacent to the conference boardroom and the food and beverage office. The economy was struggling that year and our owners, the Kuwait Investment Co. was looking for buyers. This was at the end of a 3 year stretch where the resort had cut back on everything , staff of course, and facilities.
      The main restaurants were in bad need of equipment. Every night the chefs and stewards coated the floors in salt to keep people from slipping, and none of the ovens or stoves functioned properly. With the volume of summer business there was no way to actually clean the kitchen so stewards stayed up all night long with brooms to run off the raccoon's and opossums and rats that would find there way into the kitchens and at times the ovens. This summer was the worse, the fire dept. had to be called 4 times in a week once for grease fires. As luck would have it this was the same week the health inspector made his visit.
      As you can expect the restaurant was relieved of its A rating and given a C (I can't imagine what a D would be). The phones began ringing, from food and beverage to the executive  office with the news of the potential scandal. The CEO of the resort quickly put out a call and the health inspector was stopped at the gate and escorted to the boardroom between my office and food and beverage after 15 minutes in stomped the CEO with a wad of $100 bills and literally threw it at the man and said " I expect this will pay for an A rating" then he walked out without another word. Security walked him over to the Jasmine Porch and waited while he removed the C and replaced it with the paid for A.
                                            Second Story
       Before working in Group Services I worked as a bike shop manager in the recreation dept.. Being one of 4 full time employees you had to do whatever was needed to get the job done. At times I have given the history tour,guided seashell tour, and driven the jeep safari. I've cleaned pools, life guarded, bar tended, and  taught and ran craps & blackjack tables. I've been Santa Clause at Christmas and the Arm wrestler at Halloween, all of these were great but sometimes there are other things not so nice.  Late spring the pool manager left out 1000 lbs of soda ash and of course it rained. If you remember your chemistry, water mixed with contained bags of soda ash makes heat,,,,,alot of heat and fumes.
     I was asked by my boss to help dispose of the noxious chemicals and given instructions as to where and how to do it. We loaded the smoking bags into the beat up recreation van and went off island to a place just past where river road meets Bohicket (now Nancy Kerrigan). We turned off the road onto a small 4-5 acre piece of land that we were told was owned by Kiawah. Waiting for us was an older gentleman with a backhoe and a 10 foot deep hole. While unloading the bags I asked about the wisdom of burying chemicals so close to tomato fields. The reply I got shocked me. The gentleman said, "look around see how everything here is dead". Sure enough in the middle of the overgrowth was a huge barren area. He told me that this was where the resort disposed of waste from vehicle maintenance, Oil and cleaners along with bad batteries from the 100's of golf carts that were in use every day for the past 6-8 years. Still to this day I can still spot that barren spot as I drive by. 
     Just a couple of things I've seen, I haven't told all and certainly not the most scandalous,,,,I'm holding those in reserve. Bottom line people are people where ever you go, good ones, bad ones, happy ones,sad ones. Wow that felt good, to put that in writing.