Long time no see. But I’ve still been thinking. Thinking is always good.
A bit of an absence, huh? I blame winter. Winter is brutal sometimes here in New York. February in particular. I really hate February. It’s cold, overcast, miserable, gloomy, and for a month that’s only 28 days long it sure does seem to stretch on forever. It makes me want to hunker down under the blankets and watch comforting TV all day long with hot beverages. It certainly doesn’t give me great incentive to get much done. I basically feel like I’m waiting winter out, marking the days till spring…springs. February should be abolished.
March was a bit nicer, but we did have a couple of bad cold snaps, and a couple of snowfalls. But not a ton of snow this winter overall, honestly. It’s been a fairly mild one (weather.com’s nonstop hysteria notwithstanding), especially compared to some of the truly horrendous ones I’ve experienced in my decade of living in New York.
Last winter was pretty mild, too, though I was working in Manhattan, where the snow turns to ugly gray slush fairly quickly. So there’s less awkward trudging around in big honking snow boots and more slipping on slush (especially refrozen slush – ew) crossing streets and on the stairs down to the subway.
Winter at the Hudson Valley resort where I was for four years, on the other hand, is a whole different story. The hotel is literally on a mountain, and the county DOT isn’t always prompt about clearing/plowing/salting/sanding the roads leading to the gatehouse where one enters the property. This means treacherous driving conditions up and down a freaking mountain getting to and from work. My first winter working there I hit a patch of black ice on my way down the mountain, slid sideways across the road, and smashed headlights-first into a guardrail. I wasn’t injured, but many hundreds of dollars at the auto body shop for repairs followed. Not cool, man. Not cool.
But honestly, nothing at all compares to the winter of 2010 up there. That February (of course, it happened during the dastardly month of February), there was this monster snowstorm one night. Actually, it wasn’t so monstrous in town – only about ten inches or so – but going up the mountain the morning after the storm, I noticed that the snow accumulation was a bit higher, and seemed to be increasing more and more the closer I got to the property. I finally reached the gatehouse, where I was told that I needed to be extra super careful driving the last two miles to my office, because they had gotten 50 inches of snow on property the night before. Yes, you read that right. FIFTY INCHES.
The Parks & Grounds department had plowed a tiny narrow path – almost like a tunnel – along the roads leaking to the employee parking lots, and creeping along in my dinky little Honda Civic on those twisting mountain roads with 50 inches of snow literally walling me in on both sides was an absolute trip. It was almost like driving inside a labyrinth. My designated parking lot next to the Finance Division office building had yet to be cleared, so I had to park in one of the other lots (that was mostly for guest use, though it looks like many employees had had to do the same) about as far away from my office as you could get. I wedged my car between the Director of Properties’ car and a huge snowbank (that was also piled on top with all of the snow that had been cleared from the lot and had to be put somewhere) and then, thankfully, a company Jeep drove over to me. Behind the wheel was the General Manager, who was circling all of the cleared lots and picking up every single semi-stranded employee she could find to shuttle them over to their office locations. It was a pretty spectacularly wonderful thing for her to do. Yay GM!
When I finally reached the Finance offices, I walked in to find it completely empty. Barren. Ghost town. Imagine crickets chirping. I was the only one from the Purchasing department who’d made it in to work – our admin was snowed in at her house, my boss was snowed in at his, the IT boys were all working remotely from home. I wandered through the building to see if anyone else was around and was stunned to find that no one from the Accounting department had been able to come to work, either, including the director of the division. Not only was I the only member of the purchasing staff who was there…I was also the only member of the entire Finance Division who’d made it in.
So…it dawned on me…as the only Finance person who’d come to work, I was the de facto Director of Finance. (WOOOOO!!!)
And so began my first and only day as CFO.
I dutifully covered the phones, placed my grocery orders, and helped the Properties Division source a 3rd party snow moving company to come and remove the thousands of pounds of snow that our P&G crew couldn’t dispose of. Around lunchtime I took the path to the Loading Dock (pushing my way between the 50 inch-tall snow walls) to visit my Receiving department crew.
There was this strange energy in the air when I got there – a good one, but kind of a wacky one, too. It was like the amount of snow – record breaking for the hotel – had kind of made everyone giddy. So much of the staff hadn’t been able to get to work, and those of us who had were just going crackers amongst all of the snowdrifts and ice patches. The Assistant Receiving Manager climbed her way on top of a seven-foot pile of snow and somehow convinced me and her boss to come up and join her. Then the UPS driver showed up – he was the only one of our vendors who had dared to driving his truck up the mountain through the narrow tunnels of snow to the Loading Dock (all of our other deliveries were met down at the gatehouse by two of the Receiving staff in a company Jeep, and brought our groceries and other supplies up from the trucks in shifts). As a reward for his bravery, we gave him lunch from the staff cafeteria on the house.
Not a lot of guests in house that day – occupancy is always a bit low in February (yet another reason to hate February) – and as mentioned before, not a lot of employees due to the crazy driving conditions, so I spent the rest of the afternoon helping out at the Dock recording all of our deliveries as the supplies came up in shifts on the Jeep and posting kitchen requisitions as the staff filled and distributed them, checking my and my boss’ voice mail every ten minutes to ensure I wasn’t missing anything. (Unsurprisingly, not a lot of phone calls – most of our vendors were pretty stopped up by the snow as well.) It was a day of running on pure adrenaline, and somehow, strangely fun. One of the most fun days I can remember from my time there.
So from then on, whenever people complain to me about the winter weather in New York (especially these past two tame ones we’ve had), I’m all PLEASE. Nothing will ever be as ridiculous as that crazy day at the resort, where we had to maneuver through snow tunnels and I, somehow, was the acting CFO.