August 20th, 2008

For the last year I’ve been having a conversation a month with different employees of this hotel. I talk to them about their jobs and about the lives that surround those jobs. Many are young, many were hired straight out of high school. Many, therefore, are at the beginning of their lives and are full of dreams and ambitions. They are generally happy with these jobs, the people I talk to, and allude to similar feelings of contentment and freedom. But it’s all allusion and so I come away with individual stories and only the sense of a common experience. Mike Silva, who has been with us for six years, having been hired the summer after he graduated from high school, finally summed it up pretty succinctly for me. He told me that this is a great job because it gives him financial stability and a relaxed work environment so that he and his fiancé can live peacefully enough to be able to develop the broader dreams they have for their lives. I recognized that immediately as the thing so many of the others had been trying to say to me. It sounds simple and it is simple, but it’s also rare for people so young and with so little experience and although most appreciate that, it was Mike who was finally able to put the feeling into words. Mike’s ambition? He’s a writer, it turns out. And so it makes sense that he was the one to find the words for me. To the best of my understanding, and I do have a literature degree, it’s the job of the writer to find words for common experience. I’m glad to have found a way to showcase his natural talent in this for you.

I also have a fun side note in talking about Mike, and proof either of what a tolerant person he is or just of his appreciation of fiction. Our dear general manager decided, immediately upon meeting him, that he resembled some obscure basketball player from her youth. And so she has only ever referred to him as Vinny. Sometimes Vin. Six years later I would not still be responding to it, but he does.

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