Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Most Embarrassing Moment

I attended a small catholic high school in Massachusetts. The Sisters of St. Joseph were in charge of the school. At that time, lay teachers were coming in as well, but there were still a number of nuns present and teaching when I attended. There was only one though, who wore the traditional black and white habit of the order and her name was Sister Denisita. Sister Denisita was about five feet tall, but she had the presence of someone much larger.
One of the things that Sister Denisita did was find jobs for the students. She was very familiar with many of the business owners in the area and was always on the lookout for jobs the students. The first job she got for me was at Bethany Hospital, which was a retirement home for the Order of the Sisters of St. Joseph. I worked in the kitchen washing dishes. I used to arrive at 7 a.m. on a Saturday and Sister Denisita was already there making muffins for the nuns in residence. She baked from scratch, in her habit, and I never could figure out how she kept the flour off her black garments.
In any event, I tell you all this so you will understand that Sister Denisita held a special place in my heart...and still does. She was one of those people who walked the walk and lead by example.
And I was not alone in my fondness for her. I will bet you that anyone reading this who attended my high school and knew her is smiling right now.

So...that being said, I will also tell you that when Sister Denisita got you a job, you went to great lengths to do it well. Not just out of a sense of responsibility, heck, I was a teenager after all, but because if you screwed up, the employer called Sister Denisita and she called you. There was nooooo way, I wanted to be on the receiving end of that kind of a call.

After the job at Bethany Hospital, Sister Denisita got me a job at a new hotel and conference center called the Sheraton Tara. It was a big deal at the time and was built in the shape of a castle. Back then it was THE place to have a wedding or function. It had very large function rooms and a chef who was famous for his ice sculptures.

My job was as a houseman which meant that I helped set up dance floors and tables for weddings, proms and other social events. We all had little walkie talkies and spent our time tearing down one function and preparing for others. The housemen were also the gophers for little things that were forgotten for a function. So, it was not uncommon to get a call and have to dash off for something and bring it back...on the double.

So, on one particular day, I was working at a really big, really expensive wedding. Everything was in place, the wedding party had been introduced and all the guests were eating dinner and my walkie talkie beeped. Someone had forgotten to bring the champagne to the bridal suite and they needed it up there right away. So, off I went, got the champagne and the grecian vase it went in, filled it with ice and headed up to the top floor and the bridal suite.

I opened the door with my pass key and hunted around for an appropriate place for the champagne. I set it next to the bed and turned to leave.

Have you ever taken a step and been seized by the need to go to the bathroom? I mean grabbed and twisted such that you can measure how far you might make it in single steps? I figured I had maybe six or so steps and they had a bathroom..... so I used it.

I got in the bathroom, closed the door, sat down and nature took over. However, I had only momentary relief because at that moment, just when I thought the crisis was over, I heard the whisp of the suite door opening and the voice of a woman saying, "Honey, I thought we would never get out of there, now GET THOSE CLOTHES OFF!"

{Pause} Please take a moment and enjoy that excruciating moment with me......................................................................................................................Thank you. {End Pause}

There was a part of me, that would have , if it were possible, flushed myself down the toilet and into the hotel sewer system, never to be heard from again. But what worried me most was not the newlyweds several feet away, about to disrobe and.....well , you know. What worried me most was Sister Denisita.

I could see her standing in front of me, in my compromising position, telling me that life was about choices. "Some people make good choices and some people, like you John, make choices that aren't so good." "But, Sister, it wasn't really a choice, "I said...but she's already gone.

I got up verrrry quietly, flushed the toilet and turned the faucets on and off and came out of the room with a spray bottle in one hand and a rag in the other. "Oh, er, sorry..I was just cleaning up", I said as I reached for the door, opened it and got the heck out of that room. I didn't look up to see their faces, I just wanted out of there. I closed the door and ran down the hallway back to the wedding party. I waited for the rest of my shift for my walkie talkie to go off, summoning me to the main office. It never did. That night at home, I waited for a phone call from Sister Denisita. But it never came.
And I never heard anything about it again.
But I never forgot it either.


  1. Marian High School, Framingham MA. I remember Sister Denisita. She was nice, but those sisters of Saint Joseph were one mean bunch...female hoodlums from Brighton "doing the Lord's work" my a**.

  2. Great story! You really captured Sr. D.! She is still my inspiration. Remember how she never stopped moving? If you wanted to talk to her, you had to keep up with her and her grocery cart full of papers and prayer cards. And her stories!

  3. Loved Sr. Denisita! She was so kind. Alk Freshman had to take her Christian Values class!!