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Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive: Frosting On The Cake,
An Article First Appearing In Doc's Notebook On the Home Page Of www.Dr-Fix-It.Com: Frosting On The Cake ... Something is Cooking in The Pastry Kitchen
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Frosting On The Cake . . .

      Todd, the General Manager didn't enter the Hotel's Maintenance shop very often. John smiled to see a person who looked so out of place in the midst of tools, grease and sawdust. John watched Todd stealthily wind through the maintenance shop. As he made his way past tools and equipment toward John's office, Todd was extremely careful not to brush up against anything that might stain his Italian three-piece suit. John noted Todd's necktie probably cost more than the SkilSaw that laid on the workbench behind him. And, Todd certianly spent more on his watch than John did on his pickup truck.

          Todd finally stood uncomfortably in the center of the doorway to John's office. He took a moment to check the soles of his Spanish crocodile loafers to be sure he hadn't stepped on anything obnoxious during his journey across the shop. For good measure, he wiped his shoes on John's office carpet. Then, Todd handed a three-page memo to John, "Here. Look at this."

          John quickly scanned the memo, reading random phrases aloud; " Daily, I face jeopardy . . . No mention of these job-related hazards in my job description. . . OSHA regulations prohibit . . . maintenance requests go unnoticed . . . I should NOT have to deal with this danger as a condition of my employment . . . (Signed)  Pierre."

          John looked up, "Pierre...Pierre . . . It looks like Pierre is a pretty unhappy fellow. Isn't there a Pierre in the Pastry Kitchen? Pierre the Cake Decorator? "

          Todd shook his head affirmative, "Yes, Pierre says that his work station is extremely dangerous and we don't care. The bottom half of the second page goes ON and ON and ON about how the floor is always wet. The sink leaks and no one will fix it."

          John handed the memo back to Todd, "I want to thank you, Todd."

          "What for?"

          John launched into a melodrama, "Pastry Awareness. Thank you for finally opening my eyes to the peril that cake decorators face. I never knew it was so dangerous in the pastry kitchen. Every night from now on, when I watch the news and see rescue workers, cops, firemen, soldiers, I will think, "their work might be dangerous, but at least they are not facing the hazards of decorating cakes". John took the cap off his head and held it over his heart. "This nation owes its deepest thanks to all the Cake Decorators out there who face danger on a daily basis just to bring us a little sweetness and joy." He pretended to wipe a tear from his eye.

          Todd stifled a smile, "No more jokes. Make this guy happy. Whatever he wants; he gets. OK?"

          John put his cap back on, "OK, I'll send Kelly right away".

          Todd continued. "I am going to tell Security to check the area every time they make their kitchen rounds. And, you should keep on top of it yourself. Oh, and John; keep this under your hat. Not a word of this to anyone."

          John opened the shop door for Todd so the General Manager would not have to touch the door knob and risk getting his manicured fingers dirty. "Not a word of this to anyone", John repeated.

          After Todd had left the Shop, John grabbed the radio, "Maintenance. John to Kelly"


          "Hey Kelly, report to the Pastry Kitchen. Code 'B'. Water on the floor by Cake Decorating."

          Kelly knew Code 'B' was radio shorthand for the most urgent non-emergency situation . Only a Code 'A' was more important. While Code 'A" called for a response to an immediate threat to life or property, Code 'B' signified all other situations that required prompt attention. Kelly knew that when the phrase "Code 'B'" came over the radio, it meant, "Stop what you are doing and respond immediately to this"

          A few minutes later, John's radio crackled; "Maintenance. Kelly to John"

          "John. Go ahead, Kelly"

          Kelly sounded confused, "Confirming a Code 'B' at the Pastry Kitchen.

          John keyed the microphone and drew the radio close to his face, "Yup, that's what I said. Water under the sink at the Cake Decorating Station"

          Kelly resisted, "Well, I see a little spot of water under that sink. But, it's no Code 'B'! The puddle is maybe the size of a quarter"

          John chuckled at Kelly's bewilderment but he appreciated it as well. Everyone in the department understood the danger of 'Crying Wolf' too often. Kelly was simply trying to protect the integrity of Code 'B'. John made a conscious effort to wipe the grin from his face and tried to sound firm on the radio, "Kelly, IT IS a Code 'B'. I SAID SO! Make sure that the leak is fixed and the floor is perfectly dry.

          Well, OK. But it sure doesn't look like a Code 'B' to me . . .

          John smiled at Kelly's spunk. He struggled to sound serious on the radio, "Kelly, IT IS a Code 'B'. I'm the boss. A boss isn't always right but he is always the boss. Don't leave until the leak is fixed and the floor is perfectly dry.

          Kelly responded simply, "10-4"

          About thirty minutes later, Kelly popped into John's office. "What was that all about? I gotta know . . ."

          John shrugged his shoulders, " Water on the floor is a dangerous situation. Someone could slip and fall."

          Kelly squatted with his arms straight in front, " You would have to hold onto the sink with both hands . . ." He extended one foot, " . . . And stretch your leg between the P-trap and the wall to even TOUCH that little spot of water!"

          Kelly's pose reminded John of a water skier. "You just proved my point !", John grinned, "Anyone in that position could easily fall! And, lets not even mention the possibility of pulling a muscle or straining the back."

          "Oh", Kelly stood upright again, "I get it now. Who? Pierre?"

          John looked confused, "Kelly, I don't know what you are talking about."

          Kelly mumbled something as he turned and left the shop.

          The following Friday, Todd stopped John in the Lobby. "Pierre quit today. He landed a job over at the Royale. He said they pay a little better than we do."

          John asked, "Everything OK?"

          Todd nodded, "Yes, everything is fine. No hard feelings either way."

          "That's good."

          About six months later, Kelly stopped by John's office with the morning newspaper. "Did You see this?"

          John read portions of the news article aloud, "A local man is suing The Hotel Royale for $1.35 million in medical expenses and punitive damages as a result of an work-related accident. The suit alleges that Royale Hotel Management Partners Co. Inc. is liable for damages and injuries because it 'negligently failed to repair a leaking sink even after repeated written service requests were made and the resultant standing water materially contributed to the plaintive falling and causing injury to himself.' The plaintive was employed by The Hotel Royale as a pastry chef and cake decorator at the time of the incident . . . "

          Kelly interrupted, " If you read down in the next paragraph, they say it is Pierre, the guy who used to work here. Remember Pierre?"

          "Oh, I definitely remember Pierre. You had a fit because I called a little spot of water under his sink a Code 'B'." John grinned, "You wouldn't leave me alone about it."

          "That's right", Kelly recalled, "Didn't get to know him when he worked here. Now, I suppose I should feel sorry for poor Pierre falling and hurting himself. I guess I would if I thought it was an accident."

          John looked confused, "Kelly, I don't know what you are talking about."

          Kelly mumbled something as he turned and left the shop.



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