Ahh, Christmas, the time for giving, and sadly, for the less fortunate, a time for desperation. No one wants to be unable to provide a holiday meal for their family, and no one wants to be unable to give a gift to someone they love. Thus the following story is both true, sad and funny, and will hopefully serve as a reminder that it is better to give, than to receive.
As usual, the night started off like any other Christmas-week night in our Kansas City hotel: quiet, uneventful, and peaceful. And as usual, that’s when it happened.
“Boss, come quick, there is a guy lying face down on the front drive of the hotel, unconscious, and it looks like he is hugging…..a frozen turkey.” Well now, that’s one I hadn’t heard before. So out I went, expecting the worse, and unfortunately, the scene was exactly as described. The mystery was: who was this gentleman, where did he come from…and what was the deal with the frozen turkey?
The gentleman appeared to be alive, and after a quick call to an ambulance and the police, I pulled the bellmen and doormen off to the side, and asked them what happened. “Well boss, we are really not sure. We didn’t see him walk by, and suddenly we heard a thud and we turned and he was just lying there holding that frozen turkey.” And then, slowly, with a sense of mutual understanding, we all looked up. And there it was.
Now at the time, the hotel was part of a citywide enhancement project that involved the construction of an elevated, enclosed, over-street link-bridge, that once completed, would join one side of the hotel to the new Kansas City Science Center. And at the time, the bridge was incomplete, and stuck out like an arm from the side of the hotel’s 2nd floor. An arm that ended directly above the main entrance of the hotel. There was no other possible explanation: the gentleman must have fallen out of the open end of the unfinished bridge. And after police questioning, the full story was revealed to us the following day.
Apparently the gentleman entered the hotel through the front door, took the elevators to level two, entered a service door that led to the kitchen, reached into a freezer, and grabbed a frozen turkey. Then, he made a run for it. Out from the kitchens, the first door he spotted was the one leading to the unfinished bridge, and in his haste he must have missed the “construction” and “do not enter” signs. Sprinting ahead across the bridge , I imagine he must have turned back to see if anyone was giving chase, and ran right off the end of the bridge, and woke up face down on the pavement, still clutching the frozen bird, wondering how on earth he got there. Frankly it was a miracle he wasn’t killed.
The police booked him for breaking and entry, theft, and bevy of other misdemeanour charges. But the sad part was, they took the frozen turkey and returned it to the hotel.
The team of leaders at the hotel met the next day, and reviewed the case. It was Christmas week, and clearly this man was desperate to provide a proper meal for his poor family. We decided that the right thing to do would be to get his address from the police report, and deliver a full Christmas meal, including turkey, to his home. And that’s exactly what we did.
About the author
Steve Cokkinias is the Founder & CEO of InnSense Leadership (www.innsense.com) which he established in 2012 after a successful 17-year career in the hospitality industry that included senior positions with Ritz-Carlton, Westin, and Sheraton in the U.S.A, Caribbean, and Asia. An inspiring and sought-after speaker and executive coach, Steve has delivered energizing programs on service, leadership, and talent management to a wide range of international companies. During his 9 years as General Manager in Kuala Lumpur, his hotel was named "Best Employer in Malaysia" 4 times consecutively by Hewitt & Associates, earning him a place on Human Capital Asia's "Hot 40 - Asia's H.R. Superstars". In 2010, Steve was named Malaysia's "General Manager of the Year" by the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards. His new book, "InnSanity - Leadership Lessons from a Lifetime in Luxury Lodging", is due for release in early 2013. Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow Steve on Twitter: @stevecokkinias.