While in Milwaukee, WI last week for work, I was deemed the ‘star wrangler’ of the day. As I was getting the talent all situated in his hotel room before a concert, I asked if there was anything else I could get before I headed back to the venue for sound check.
The second the words came out of my mouth, I immediately regretted my offering. The talent wanted steamed salmon, grilled vegetables, a baked sweet potato and a Heineken. Typically this request would be no problem but we were at an airport hotel with no room service and I was in a state that I had never before stepped foot. Shit.
I ran downstairs and let the overly friendly front desk clerk (who didn’t know her ass from her elbow) provide suggestions. I was able to score the salmon and grilled veggies in the same restaurant and begged them to prepare it for me before they opened for the day (I can be quite a schmoozer when the situation arises).
The baked sweet potato, however, proved to be the bain of my existence.
As I drove downtown Milwaukee, I was calling, Googling, texting (all the while sweating heavily in my underarm area) trying to locate a sweet baked potato above the Mason Dixon line. I found sweet potato fries, tater tots and chips but nothing baked. F!
I about shit as I walked into the fancy schmancy Harbor House to pick up the talent’s salmon, as I had no company cash on me and I was crossing my fingers my check card would go through. After picking up the $30 fish and veggies, I continued the search for the baked sweet potato.
After several unsuccessful search calls to local restaurants, I decided to get the Heineken (and possibly shot gun one myself) out-of-the-way.
After easily scoring the beer, I decided to buy a sweet potato at a grocery store and cook it in the hotel microwave (I of course had to call a Martha Stewart type in Nashville to get advice on how not to over cook in the quick heating appliance).
I ran into a what looked like a farmer’s market and frantically asked the first woman behind a counter where I could find a sweet potato (by my demeanor, you would have thought I was with a search and rescue team trying to locate a missing child). The kind woman said “there are baked sweet potatoes at the soup counter.”
You mean already cooked, ready to eat, I can buy and get the hell outta here sweet potatoes? SCORE! Just as I was approaching the counter, a man tapped me on my shoulder. I was clearly annoyed, sweaty and stressed because I needed to get lunch to the talent that I had left in a hotel room 55 minutes ago.
As I whipped around to let him know that I didn’t want to sample what he was pushing, or buy a flower from his basket or take a tour of the market, or whatever it was that he wanted he said, “You’re our millionth customer!”
My response was, “No shit?” I mean, I’ve never seen anyone be the millionth anything (except on TV or in movies where they win a million dollars. Wait, did I win a million dollars?!)
Turns out in lieu of cash, I won a gift basket with a cooking class certificate (obviously needed), apron (will come in handy while I bake a sweet potato), cook book (hopefully containing instructions on how many minutes to scorch a potato in the microwave) and a $50 gift card to the market.
Instantly relieved with a baked sweet potato in my hand, accompanied by my basket of millionth customer goodies, I raced back to the hotel, and presented the talent his lunch and beer. To which he said, “this is cold.”
He’s one in a million.