Mr. Laffy, the twins, a good friend of theirs, their dog, and I went on a fantastic weekend away in Temecula, a part of California's wine country. We loved our hotel, we loved the wineries, we loved the wine, we loved the people we encountered (they all seemed so happy!), and we loved the company.
It couldn't have been more relaxing, beautiful, yummy, and fun.
Somehow reality made its way into the trip, so I decided to write about it.
It started with our room service attendant, a sweet, friendly, talkative man who was willing to share his circumstances with me. I asked him if he was a union member and/or if the resort hired union workers. He said no, he was paid minimum wage with no benefits.
We immediately promised him a huge tip to help compensate, informed him that we were sympathetic to his situation, and that I write for a political website that covers this issue regularly, supports unions (scroll) and pushes for raising the minimum wage (scroll).
He makes eight dollars an hour, California's minimum. Of course, we all got into a conversation about how impossible it is to support a family on wages like that, especially with no health care benefits, and we commiserated for some time until he had to get back to work.
We left him a very generous tip, as promised. We hope it helped, but, sadly, knew it wouldn't make much of a dent.
Then, as we were leaving for our big day, we ran into a housekeeper who was vacuuming the floor near the elevator. She was very pregnant, so I expressed my happiness for her. She said she was in her eight month, and said, "No more! After this no more! This is my last!" She was pretty young, and we shared a laugh with her over her "Never again!" response.
The elevator came, so off we went, but Mr. Laffy and I were also concerned with her circumstances, doing heavy duty cleaning at a huge hotel while at the point of her pregnancy when she could go into labor at any time while having to be on her feet all day carrying a heavy load (been there, done that, and it's not easy), and doing all this at a salary that wouldn't meet her obvious needs.
Finally, Mr. Laffy and I were unpleasantly surprised with our final bill. This hotel was pricey enough, but they tacked on extra fees and charges that made no sense to us and were not explained satisfactorily. So I insisted that we leave a note to whom it may have concerned.
Mr. Laffy agreed that, despite the superb quality of service and amenities, comfort and hospitality, we should make our voices heard (they did, after all, ask us to fill out a comment form).
So we did just that, twice. Once on the form:
... And once in a note to our house cleaning service attendants. We hope they shared it with management:
After a fantastic day with our boys, our friend, and Timmy the Dog, visiting wineries and sampling many of their fine products, we ended the trip with a sense of having tried to do what we could at the moment and hopes that enough people will also take the time to do the same.
My only regret is that we couldn't have left an even bigger tip, expressed ourselves more effectively... and sampled even more wines.
One more disturbance made its way into our otherwise peaceful weekend. We were ambling through Old Town when we heard a loud BANG! It could have been a gun or other explosion and it startled us out of our vacay-comfort-zone. Then we heard it again, and again, and then again. We realized it had to be a local exhibition of some kind unless we were under some kind of attack.
And that's what was so distressing. As it turned out, it was a staged reenactment of some scene from the Old West. We figured that out within a minute or two, to our great relief.
But what magnified the Moment of Temporary Trauma was my son's reaction, or what he described as"lapses into PTSD" after the Boston Marathon Bombing. He was there, only two doors away from the second explosion ("My son just called from Boston: Two explosions at Boston Marathon finish line. UPDATE: Son’s statement to press"), and ever since that day, he experiences jolts of fear when he hears loud noises. Reality, meet Temecula Wine-Tasting Weekend:
So we spent the rest of the day doing this:
And then spent the evening back at the hotel:
And finally made our way to their wine tasting room and restaurant, where we were served a delicious dinner and consumed more excellent wines.
Here's a snap of the dining room:
... and finally made our very-buzzed way back to our very well-appointed room with a very lovely view of very grapey vineyards and fell fast asleep.
We drove home the next day, but not before making those written statements to let everyone know they should be treating their employees better. Let's hope they heard us.