Five years, nine months, and twenty-nine days ago I began my employ with SSP America, one of two firms that manage the restaurants of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Today at 2:46 PM I ended that employment by clocking out at Matt’s Big Breakfast, next to Gate B5 at Terminal 4. I left on good terms, with the Big Boss, Tommy R, managers Maria, Denny and Eduardo, bartender Sadie, servers Jenna, Netty, and (especially) Melinda, utilities man Juan, and my cashier replacement Esperanza all wishing me well. It is a good ending.
Here I am with Ninette, whom we call Netty. That’s my mask between us, hanging from my left ear.
This is bar lady Mercedes. She prefers to be called Sadie. She posts wonderful pictures of her family on Instagram. She also has cracked me up with jokes that are unsuitable for children. And I’ve tried to crack her up as well. Many of the jokes I’ve told her are older than she is.
Here is utility man Juan, who showed me pics of the coastal city in Argentina where he was born and raised. I told him today that he looks a bit like the “handsome British actor” Anthony Hopkins.
And here is Melinda, whose skills as a server are so pristine that my own mother, the Diner from Hell, the Original Karen (OK), the late, great Jane Bowers Stoneman, would ask for Melinda by name when she was working at Lone Star Steakhouse. Melinda is known as the Finder of Stuff and is heavily relied on for that, among many other things. When I told her I’d post her pic she said, “Tell everyone that I’m the one who gave you Covid.” (Possible, but unlikely,) I may miss her most of all.
The lady pointing at the “Usual Suspect” is Maria W, who has managed our restaurants all over the place. I have the utmost respect for her. She runs everything from 10Ks to ultramarathons and has for many years. She is hard to keep up with. 🙂
And here I am with the Big Boss, Tommy R, who manages the managers. He is like Heimdall, Bridgekeeper of Asgard, in that his eyes see everything, everywhere. The buck stops with him. And it was to Tommy himself that I surrendered my airport badge and the Micros card with which I clocked out for the very last time.
I’m proud to have put in more than five years with SSP, and so happy to have made so many restaurant friends. I will stop by and say hello as a traveler when I plane-trip my way out of Phoenix. I wish all my colleagues the utmost success, and will miss them profoundly.