Dr-Fix-It! Notebook Archive:
The Shoot-Out at The Sante Fe Saloon . . .
John was just returning the telephone handset to its cradle as Carlos walked into the Engineering Office. John put two fingers to his temple and slowly rocked his head pretending to soothe headache. He looked at Carlos over the top of his glasses and asked, "JUST WHAT did you do at the Sante Fe Saloon?". John nodded toward the telephone on his desk, "That was Monica. She was madder than a cat under the outhouse. If she could have fit through that telephone wire, she would have come right down here to just choke me with both of her little French-manicured hands."
Carlos forced half of a smile as he shook his head, "That woman . . ."
Monica was the Manager of Operations for the Sante Fe Saloon - a sports bar and grill decorated in a southwestern motif. Located just off the main lobby of the hotel, The Sante Fe Saloon served sandwiches, cold beer and cocktails from lunchtime until the wee hours of the morning.
One hundred pounds soaking wet, the petit Monica spoke four languages fluently. She was schooled at the Culinary Institute and had a degree in business administration. But big surprises sometimes come in small packages, Monica ruled the Sante Fe Saloon with fierce determination, the personality of a pit bull and a vocabulary that could make a truck-driver blush.
John continued, " Well, I just heard Monica's version - at 86 decibels. So now, Carlos, please tell me your version of the shoot-out at the Sante Fe Saloon."
"Well', Carlos ventured thoughtfully, "I got a call on the radio that it was too warm in the Sante Fe. The A/C was on. The fan was going - I could hear it. Compressor and condenser fans both were running except the compressor was all frozen up. I popped the filter cover and found the evaporator coil was a solid block of ice."
Holding onto the edge of desk with his left hand, John cocked his chair back and massaged the back of his neck with is right hand, "Huh. The evaporator coil was a solid block of ice. The most usual cause for a freeze up is low airflow across the coil. Was there sufficient airflow? You said the blower was running. Was the fan belt broken?"
Carlos shook his head again, "No. The blower was moving a lot of air. Darn near sucked me into the A/C when I popped the cover off."
"Oh!", John smoothed the hair on the back of his head, "So the unit was starving for air! A closed damper? An obstruction?"
Carlos nodded," Yep. You know the return air grill is in the wall of the storeroom right there by the bar. . ."
John agreed," Yah, I know where the return-air grill is. The bartenders are always putting stuff right in the way of that grill. Is that what happened ?"
Carlos resumed, "Yes! They did it real good this time! They stacked fifty-six 12-packs of beer right there in front of the return-air grill. Eight stacks seven high right up tight to the wall! They completely walled up the return-air grill with their 12-packs."
With both hands, John pulled his chair square to the desk again, "And then they wonder why the A/C doesn't work!"
Carlos continued, "So, I moved all the beer to the other side of the storeroom to allow airflow to the return-air grill. Then, I needed to thaw out that frozen coil."
John put both elbows on the desk, brought his palms together and rested his chin on his outstretched thumbs. "I follow. . .", he mumbled.
Carlos shrugged," I figured the fastest way to defrost the coil was to run the unit in heat mode.
John extended his index fingers to rub his nose, "Oh yah, That unit is a heat-pump. Good thinking! Running a heat-pump in the heating mode would warm up the evaporator coil to about 135 degrees. That would melt frost in a hurry"
"Anyway", Carlos added, " I figured just a few minutes in heat mode would work to melt the ice and I would be outta there."
John grabbed a pencil and rolled it on the desk with one finger, "The thermostat is right there above the waitress station on a timber post next to the bar."
Carlos nodded, "Yes. I set the t-stat to 90 and then ran back to the mechanical room to see how the defrost was coming along."
John twirled the pencil between two fingers, "I see. . . . And this is when Monica enters the story."
Carlos studied his shoes, "I guess that she also received the complaint that the Sante Fe Saloon was starting to get too warm. She must have checked the thermostat right after I left for the mechanical room. All she saw was a thermostat set to heat mode and 90 degrees."
John put both palms on is cheeks and blinked innocently, "And Monica probably sweetly giggled, 'Oh my, who could have done this teeny little faux-pas?' "
Carlos rolled his eyes, "Monica . . . Sweet . . . right! A foghorn has nothing over Monica. She is about as subtle as a Harley at a funeral. I could hear her bellowing from where I was inside the mechanical room. I could hear her 'sweetness' all the way through a solid concrete wall and over the roar of compressors, fans and blowers." Carlos tried to mimic Monica's high pitched voice, " 'Who is the *&%$#@ IDIOT that set this thermostat to 90! I'll fire the stupid $&*@# who did this!' "
John winced, "Monica has a way with words . . ."
Carlos extended both hands, "I figured all I had to do was explain the situation and she would calm right down so I ran back to the Sante Fe and told her I was the one who set the 'stat to 90."
John smiled, "I am sure she was gracious and thankful for your efforts."
Carlos moved both open palms to the top of his head, "Like throwing gas on a fire! Monica went absolutely berserk! Screaming . . . Calling me every name in the book . . . She said she was going to have me fired and escorted off property."
John shrugged, "I guess you can consider yourself lucky that she didn't threaten to draw-and-quarter you. I also hear she is very fond of stoning, tar-and-feathers and public floggings . . ."
Carlos dropped his hands to his sides, "The coil was defrosted by then, anyway. I put everything back together and RAN out of there!"
John pushed his chair backwards and stood up. "OK, Carlos. I'll take it from here. Get back to work and just steer clear of Monica for a while."
Wide eyed, Carlos nodded, "NOT a problem!"
John found Monica studying the cash-register 'Z report' behind the bar in the Sante Fe Saloon, "May I speak with you in private?"
"Monica looked up and squinted, "My office."
John followed Monica to her office. He waited for the office door to latch before he spoke, " Is it true you screamed profanities at an employee in a public area? How smart was that?"
Monica's face flashed red, "SMART? What do you know about SMART? I wouldn't need to swear if YOUR STUPID ENGINEERS wouldn't go around TURNING THE HEAT ON to DRIVE MY customers OUT of MY restaurant! "
John took a deep breath, "We got a call that it was warm in the Sante Fe . . ."
Monica exploded, "WELL OF COURSE it was hot in the Sante Fe !!! YOUR STUPID ENGINEER TURNED THE HEAT ON !!!"
John waved both hands to signal for a pause, "What started it was that your people stacked a pile of beer against the back wall of the storeroom. I have told you before that we need to keep that air grill open at all times."
Monica stamped her foot, "I KNEW you would come up with some SORRY excuse why this is MY fault. You guys all stick together, don't you? YOUR guy comes in here and runs the heat up to 90 but it's MY fault because of a beer delivery? Give me a BREAK! Carlos is in IDIOT and you NEED to fire his @$$ !!"
John shook his head, "No I don't NEED to do anything."
Monica put both hands on her hips and leaned forward, "You're just a wimp. The guys from YOUR department run around this hotel doing STUPID things and you protect them like they are your children !"
John inhaled deeply, " I can see this conversation is getting nowhere." With sarcastic courtesy, he added, "Thank you for your VALUABLE insight."
Monica glared at John, "Oh, #$%^@ you"
A wave of anger flashed through John. He chose his words carefully and spoke from clinched teeth, "Aside from being absolutely THE trashiest, low-class behavior I have ever heard of, what you did today breaks every rule of corporate management as well as several federal harassment statutes. I am going to have Carlos document the whole episode. With any luck at all, I can get YOUR ' @$$' fired."
John continued as he reached for the doorknob, "In the meantime, I will remind you that you are Manager of Operations for the Sante Fe Saloon. The KEY WORD is OPERATIONS. The walls, the equipment, the furniture, the fixtures, all electricity, the ethernet, the TV, the air conditioning, heat, the water lines, the sewer lines and lighting are ALL under the jurisdiction of MY department. Period. That means WHATEVER my men want to do with ANY PIECE of equipment on this property, they will do so without ANY interference or COMMENT from you or your employees. IS THAT CLEAR?"
As John left the office, Monica looked at the floor and muttered, "What is clear is that your guys come down here and screw everything up. YOU blame ME for it and THEN threaten to have me fired for complaining about it! You're an @$$, John. THAT is what is clear."
As he left the Sante Fe Saloon, John was muttering something as well.
The door to John's Office was open so Carlos rapped twice on the doorjamb before he entered, "You asked to see me, Sir?"
John pulled a notepad from the top drawer and slid it across the desk to Carlos, "Yes. I want you to jot down what happened today with Monica. Nothing fancy. Just write it in your own words - you don't have to worry about spelling or punctuation."
"That's good", Carlos grinned, " 'Cause I don't think I know how to spell '*&%$#@' or '$&*@#' "
John looked down for a moment then spoke quietly, "I stopped by the Sante Fe Saloon to have a little talk with Monica."
Carlos took a sidesaddle seat on the edge of John's desk, "Oh really? How did that go?"
John shook his head, "Real bad. I lost my cool and told Monica off. Now, we are at war."
Using a marking pen to mimic a cigar, Carlos attempted a Winston Churchill imitation, "If WAR is what she wants, War is what she will get!"
John shook his head, "Well, we can't be at war. We are running a business here. The Food & Beverage Department and The Engineering Department have to work together - we can't fight. We need to resolve this quickly. We need to reopen a dialog so that we can put this behind us and move on. The first thing that needs to happen is that one side or the other must apologize so that a dialog can begin again."
Carlos snorted, "You'll be waiting a LONG time for Monica to apologize to you!"
John twirled a pencil on his desk, "I know. That's why I'm the one who is going to have to say I am sorry.
Carlos gasped. "No way John!", he shouted, "No way should you apologize to Monica! HER crew started the whole thing! THEY put their beer right in front of the return-air grill! THEIR beer iced up THEIR A/C! Why should you have to apologize for that?
John clasped his hands in front of himself and assumed an angelic pose, "Carlos, Let me recap the events of MY day with you . . . I was sitting here, minding my own business, reading the morning mail and enjoying a hot cup of coffee when - all of a sudden, out of nowhere - the phone rings. Foolish me; I answer it. I say, 'Hello' into the phone. That was the end of my nice morning. It was Monica. Turns out she's madder than a rattler in the rain. I try to patch things up but I only make it worse. Ever since I said 'Hello' into that telephone, my day has gone downhill. 'What did I do to deserve this?', I ask myself. 'I don't know', I answer myself. "
Carlos chuckled. "Well, I guess that's why you get the big bucks", he teased.
"Oh yes", John rolled his eyes, 'The bucks I get are real big! - both of them!." He grinned, "The truth is, I can see Monica's side. When she walked into the Sante Fe Saloon, the dining room was hot and the thermostat was set to 90. She applied the facts as she saw them and came to the conclusion that your were - in her words - 'a *&%$#@ idiot' ."
Carlos smiled. " 'A stupid *&%$#@ idiot' ", he corrected.
"Oh yes. Thank you", John continued, "We both know there is another interpretation but we will never get the chance to explain if she won't listen."
Carlos thought for a moment. "I still say there is no way you should apologize to Monica. But, since you say someone from this side should make the first move, I'll go to the Sante Fe Saloon and apologize to Monica."
"John stood up and motioned for the notepad, "Let me have that back." he said, "I think we will be able to handle this whole thing by ourselves."
Carlos took a deep breath and recited encouragement to himself, "OK. Here I go. I'm off to the Sante Fe Saloon." As he left John's office, he turned and waved with comic over-acting, "Good Bye! Wish me luck! Bye!"
"You're a good man, Carlos", John winked, "I don't care what Monica says about you."
John closed the office door. He put the desk-phone on 'Forward To Voice Mail', poured himself a hot cup of coffee, then sat down at his desk. John carefully pulled a neglected stack of papers from the corner of the desktop to a point centered directly in front of his chair. He selected a memo from the top of the stack, took a sip of coffee and began - again - to read the morning mail.