San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina
333 West Harbor Drive
San Diego, California 92101
And we wonder why.
We wonder why Americans are so fat, and why it’s not only secretaries, but anyone who has an office job grows a Secretary Butt. I mean, “Executive Assistant Ass.”
And I wonder why I will never go back to the office-type job I had in my previous life.
The conference started at 7:00 am, so we provided conference attendees with a complimentary breakfast, as catered by the hotel, and not just Holiday Inn “continental” breakfast consisting of anorexic crescent-not-"croissant" rolls and withering fruit. We went the whole deal with a make your own Denny’s Grand Slam buffet. It was, to say the least, horrible, but that’s not really the point. Well, it’s part of the point. The food was horrible, and yet people were attacking breakfast like a horde of Henry VIIIs.
Businessmen, already bursting the seams of their Armani suit trousers, were filling out their double pleats by filling their plates with “free” scrambled eggs that are neon yellow from the additional egg yolks that have been added to the industrial white plastic tub when someone else orders egg white only for room service. Hotel staff were constantly refreshing the stainless steel feed troughs of “free” bacon and sausage that was glistening grease under the soft, flattering light of a heatlamp. Enormous mountains of enormous sugar-crumb topped “free” muffins were rapidly eroding under the rain of middle managers. Apparently, Atkins is dead, at least in the corporate world. Piles of mealy potatoes were swimming, no drowning, in butter, and if you happened to be the chef who prepared them, you’d have quite an ego at how fast they were going.
No one touched the yogurt.
No one touched the fresh fruit, either, but that’s understandable. The strawberries were rotting. I couldn’t believe the Marriott catering staff actually had the courage (stupidity? no respect?) to put rotting strawberries on the table, as if people would actually eat it.
Don’t get me wrong. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a plate of creamy scrambled eggs and bacon (and sausage) or a mile-high stack of fluffy buttermilk strawberry pancakes for breakfast. I love breakfast, and might even go so far as to say it’s my favorite meal of the day. That is, until lunchtime rolls around. :) However, when I see gross gluttony in the face of “free,” particularly when the goods are damaged, it reminds me of what I sacrificed back when I was consulting. Nutrition. Health. Taste.
In my previous life, catered meetings were the norm. It sure seemed awfully thoughtful of the company to provide breakfast, lunch or dinner for us. They don’t mind spending that extra dollar on their employees to feed them! But then I started to think about it, and every time I saw that brown paper bag of bagels with an iced bowl of individual-sized generic cream cheese, or a basket of oversized muffins, or a big black plastic platter of turkey sandwiches, or stacks and stacks of pizza boxes plus one box for the vegetarians, I grew more and more bitter.
The company doesn’t care about you or me. They spend what? Maybe $50 bucks with a corporate discount on food, have it delivered to the office and jail you in the white-board-for-walls “war room” with pizza. You can’t take a break. You can’t go “out” for lunch. You’re working through breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And of course, because it’s free, you load up. Save money on your client-expensed per diem! Eat a ton now with the expectation that you’ll just skip spending your per diem later, which you end up ignoring when your co-workers in the same hotel as you call you out for dinner at the local steakhouse.
If the memory of hotel food, whether it’s a room-service grilled cheese and fries for an obscene $24, or a Rubber Chicken Caesar Salad in the hotel’s “restaurant,” is enough to keep me away from a globe-trotting consulting job, then catered metings and conferences where the only fresh fruit is a bowl of rotting strawberries ensure that I will never go back to an office-type job.
Well, except the one that I’m starting on Monday :)
** a year ago today, "the W" ain't over until zaatar at gaby's mediterranean **