June 18th to the 27th meant trips to San Francisco, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Johnstown, New York, Naples, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh again. These trips provided an entirely new meaning to Thunder in the Valley. In fact, Thunder in the Skies would have been more descriptive. As my work life brought me back in the saddle again, I discovered what flying the unfriendly, storm laden, bumpy, lightning filled skies of these good ole United States meant.
This type of travel gives me plenty of time to deliberate. It gives me time to think about having life and not having it. It accentuates life’s edginess in airborne storms, rocky take-offs and landings, and navigating through tropical downpours and blinding sand storms. (Okay, it was a taxi ride from LAX to Beverly Hill, but there was a little dust blowing around out there.)
I’ve been working in Beverly Hills since January. It may seem strange for a former musician, arts organization, and tourism director, hospital administrator and research institute guy to be working in Beverly Hills, but I am. It sure beats some of the other places where I’ve worked over the years. (I’m not naming any names.)
To top it off, I get to hang out in the Barbra Streisand pavilion, have lunch beside Sharon Stone, and stay at a really nice French hotel. (Seriously, they speak French there and have the greatest pastries you can ever imagine.) It is like a cultural trip to some foreign land.
There are Maserati’s, Alfa Remeo’s, and Bentleys parked everywhere. The lawns are perfectly manicured, brown but manicured. The homes are, well, they are less than humble, and the police are, just like the ones in Beverly Hills Cop, very polite.
I’ve seen movie stars and, I’m sure I’m seeing future movie stars everywhere. Here’s the really fun part of it all. The people that I’m working with in Beverly Hills are great. They are really nice and kind, and hardworking. Several of them are the children of immigrants from places like the Philippines, Mexico, and from China, and that makes it even more enjoyable.
What’s my reason for writing this? It’s not to brag because I’m still me. I still put my slacks on one leg at a time and still like to have a cold one with my buddies. I’m not a Beverly Hills, Nigeria, or even a Bosnia kinda guy, but then again, maybe I am because I really liked the people in all of those places.
Oh sure, it’s sad to see all of the twenty something men and women trying to compete, to be in the IN crowd. It’s sad to see so much wealth wasted in a world where people are starving. But let’s just ignore the opulence and narcissism for now and focus on the fact that the folks who work there are really nice. Of course they could be completely immersed in their own self-worth, but they aren’t. They could be ego maniacs, but they aren’t that either. They’re reasonable, and they’re not status seekers. They’re just good people.
Maybe that’s the key. There aren’t many places where they could work that would be more prestigious, and I’m sure they’re being paid fairly. But in return for that they’re contributing significantly to making it a great place. So, possibly, they’re so nice because they have nothing to prove. It’s like those Nobel Prize winners that I’ve met. They’re not snobs or pompous academics. Maybe it’s because they have a better view from the top, and it just makes them humble.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear to me that, of all the places I’ve worked over the past several years, I can honestly tell you that Beverly Hills is one of my favorite places. It’s not the Hills. It’s not even Beverly. It’s the people who have gotten my attention. Now that’s a culture I’d love to spread.