Earlier in tje day one of Sara’s tennis friends had said she saw an Actual Gang Member on the shuttle. Massive guy, lots of tats. Her husband had taken a picture - surreptitiously, I hope - and looked them up. Sure enough, gang symbols. I said I’d seen the guy at the gym, doing the treadmill. Hey, they have to vacation somewhere.
That's the background noise. Now. At dinner we were atEl Dorado, the steakhouse, and were momentarily confused by two different musical soundtracks. One tune came from the speakers; the other came from the corner. Johnny Cash, and loud. I finally looked in the dark corner and saw a guy sitting alone in a semi-circular booth, wearing a baseball cap and chains, grinning. He had a bluetooth speaker and was playing his own music, loud.
And no one seemed to think this was odd, or should be confronted.
Of course Sara said something to the waiter, who was a bit confused about it. Then he said okay and he would talk to someone. A waitress came over and asked the guy to turn it down. He did. She left. He turned it up again.
They continued to serve him, topping off his wine. Occasionally staff would come out and talk to him. I heard him say the word “security.”
The waiter, when asked again what the HELL was going on, and who was this guy in the corner, and WHY was he blasting 80s tunes, said that he did not know but this was a big night because the boss of all Palladium restaurants was coming in. He gestured to some reserved tables. So now I’m thinking this crazy guy is “security” in some dodgy sense, but how likely is that?
A guy in the next booth asks the guy straight up, loudly, why he is playing his music. The guy comes over with a goofy grin and shakes hands and coos at their kid and tells some story we can’t quite translate. He’s with the organization, he says, part of Palladium. He goes away and returns to his music and cheesecake, and the guy in the next booth, who is a Doctor from Denmark, notes to us that he was wearing a hospital admissions bracelet, and may be manic. We conclude he is daft, but the deference everyone is showing him makes me think he is the loony brother of some heavy, someone everyone has to accommodate, because he has juice.
The chef comes over to talk to him. The manager comes to talk to him. Eventually he leaves, and the manager comes over to say things to me about how this will never happen again, and very sorry -
Heavy rap on the window. It’s the guy. He does the thing where he points to his eyes and then points at you, then vanishes in the trees.
The next morning I think, I gots to know. If nothing else I may get an abject apology that results in a spa afternoon for Sara. The first manager I talk to apologies and says yes, he knows about the guy. He barged into the morning meeting in the lobby and sat down and said well here we are, what’s going on, like he was part of the organization. Then he was miffed that they wouldn’t charge his bluetooth speaker.
No offer of a spa afternoon.
On the way out I run into Kevin, the guy who met us when we got here and tried to sell us membership in Palladium. He’s a great guy. I stop him and say “Kevin. What is this hombre muy loco with the bluetooth speaker.”
He rolls his eyes, recounts how he barged into the meeting, then says he’d been bragging about attending the big wedding party and kissing the bride a lot and the husband didn’t mind which was strange because he should have minded, and that - yes indeed he had been hospitalized two nights ago.
Two nights ago . . . that explains the sirens. They’d sent an ambulance to get him off the property. But he got out and came back.
So why does everyone seem to treat him with such respect?
He is a Palladium Member, he shrugged. How he got that status, given his strange dress - Iron Maiden T-shirt, flip-flops, general street-person look - he does not know. I reiterate my theory that he is the relative of someone who has some juice, and also note in slight jest that the whole evening in the restaurant was so stressful my wife, you know, she could use a massage.
“I can get that for her,” he says, and leans forward a little and assumes a grave expression, while pointing to his badge. The badge that identifies him as part of the Palladium membership sales team. You’ll get a massage but you’ll have to sit through a three hour pitch, in other words.
I laugh and he laughs and we part. And that was that.
Later I went to the Google review page to see if anyone had been complaining about it, and much to my absolute amusement:
Number one review, ladies and gentlemen. And I still didn’t get my wife a massage.