Everything is about connections. Most jobs come through networks, not job postings. It was through my fraternity friendships that I got hired as a third-shift security officer for a posh hotel during college. I was not a match for this job. Yes, I was big and strong having just returned from Army service. I could have man-handled most guests if the need arose. That was not the issue. My pea-sized brain paired with a lackadaisical work ethic combined to be the problem. I worked about three nights a week and did the minimum required before I handed the keys off to the morning guys.
The cool thing about this job was that when famous people passed through Lexington, they usually stayed at this hotel. Besides the rock stars, most were asleep before I clocked in. But I still got my share of brushes with the rich and famous. And on one strange night, I had a beer with Andre the Giant.
It happened in the late 80’s when Wrestlemania made its way to town.
The job’s nightly routine started with an hour of surveillance around the grounds. While I poked around I discovered that my favorite bartender, Lucy, was on duty. Lucy was a beautiful law student who was completely immune to my charms. The whole time I worked there I never gave up flirting and the whole time I worked there I never learned more than her name was Lucy and that she was a law student. Her immunity ran deep.
After I finished my rounds, I went straight back to the bar to talk to Lucy. What I found was Andre the Giant perched on a chair laughing with three drunk business men. There was no mistaking him. He was HUGE. He held a mug of beer in his hand like I would hold a plastic child’s cup. Seriously, the thing disappeared in his oversized mitt.
My first thought was about what would happen if he became belligerent. What would I do?
I was 6’, 3” and about 200 lbs. Andre? 7’, 4”, about 500 lbs.
What I would do? I would run! I was looking for a job when I found this one.
“Hi Lucy,” I said as a sidled up to the bar. “Everything okay?”
“Everything’s great,” she replied in her usual dismissive manner.
“What are these for,” I asked as I noticed three room keys lined up on the bar.
“He had those guys put them there before they started drinking. He’s had thirty-six beers and they’ve had about six each.”
Thirty-six! You heard it right. Andre the Giant’s beer-drinking held no equals and few limits. I later learned that he was unofficially crowned “the greatest drunk on Earth” for once consuming 119 beers in six hours. Thirty-six was barely a buzz.
We immediately understood his key methodology as one of the businessmen slid off his stool into a heap. Andre had done this before.
“That’s number two,” Andre laughed as he reached down and lifted the man with little exertion. He must have seen my name badge because he handed the man off to me, grabbed a key from the bar, and said, “Be careful with him and come back. Andre doesn’t like to drink alone.”
I helped the drunk to his room and returned to find the next ready for escort and then the next. After I had deposited the third, it was me, Lucy, and Andre the Giant in the bar.
“Well?” he asked playfully.
Not knowing what he meant, I just stood there like an idiot until Lucy poured me a draught and said with a wink, “Andre doesn’t like to drink alone.”
“Andre doesn’t like to drink alone,” he bellowed jovially. He also said it so loudly that the sound reverberated in the bar and echoed through the lobby.
I realized that it was probably my job to shush him. After all, it was late and I was security. Guests were sleeping. But as I held that cold mug in my hand and looked at his welcoming smile, all I could think was – I’m about to drink a beer with Andre the Giant!
So I said what anyone in that situation would say: “Cheers!”
Andre started telling stories. Whether it was his thick accent or his drunken state, I couldn’t understand much of what he said. But it didn’t matter; he had a contagious happiness about him. Lucy and I sat mesmerized for about thirty minutes until he announced he was finished. He paid his tab and the tabs of the fallen businessmen, including a generous tip, and lumbered off carrying a briefcase that looked absurdly small in his immense hand.
I was a little cloudy and figured this was finally my opportunity with Lucy. But she immediately transformed from “giggly Lucy drinking a beer with Andre the Giant” into “law student Lucy.” So I found a conference room couch and slept until it was time for the morning guys to relieve me.
“Any trouble from the wrestlers?” one asked.
“Not a bit,” I yawned, hoping he wouldn’t smell anything on my breath. “Not a bit.”