Thursday, August 05, 2010

Here Today, Gone Tonnato

From a day in the "life" of a wine salesman fool department

5:40 AM – Wake up, look at the clock. Not 6:45 yet, but up. It's 88°F outside.

6:45 – Alarm goes off.

7:30 – Emails rolling in.

8:00 – Text from supplier, asking if we are going to meet them at first appointment.

8:30 - Call to my Aunt Jo, who is 94 today. phone is busy.

8:40 – Call to salesman- I will pick up the vendor and the winemaker at 9:30 and meet him at first appointment at 10:00 and then take them to the next stop.

9:00 – Stop for a coffee because am out at home.

9:20 – Sitting outside it’s already 93°F.

9:22 – Dump half the coffee – it’s too hot to drink anyway.

9:23 – Text from supplier, winemaker is going to be 15 minutes late.

9:24 – Take a picture of a storefront.

9:25 – Arrive at hotel and wait outside.

9:45 – Supplier meets me outside. Winemaker isn’t here yet. Talk. More talk, sitting outside hotel in the shade, where it’s only 89°F.

9:55 – Winemaker arrives. He hasn’t had coffee yet. We are 15-20 minutes from first appointment with 5 minutes to get there.

10:08 – Call from salesman. “Where are you?” he asks. “Two blocks away,” I lie.

10:12 – First appointment, introductions and tasting of eight wines from Piedmont, six of them red, five of them Nebbiolo.

10:40 – Meeting goes well. Next appointment 11:15 – we are 20 minutes away.

10:45 – Stop at another coffee shop for the supplier and the winemaker, who haven’t had their coffee yet.

10:50 – Call from another importer who tells me his best selling Pinot Grigio has new owners, but the old owners own the trademark to the name. Brainstorm over new name.

10:55 - Call to my Aunt Jo, who is 94 today. phone is busy.

11:00 – Importer calls me back. It seems they can use the name until the end of the year and still get the wine and then the owners will pull the plug. 20+ years of working a brand goes down the drain.

11:02 – On the road to next appointment.

11:16 – Call from another salesman, “Where are you?” he asks. “Two blocks away,” I lie.

11:18 – Meeting with next account. Friendly folks, a jolly buyer who loves soccer and a sommelier who loves to blog. It’s all good.

11:45 – Finish appointment – hand supplier and winemaker over to salesman. He has a farm truck that is 4 feet off the ground. I worry how my not so tall winemaker is going to get into the cab of the truck. It is now 95°F.

12:15 PM – Arrive halfway across town at a Caribbean place for a 12:30 lunch appointment with the top chef. 15 minutes early. I spill water all over me in the car and it looks like I wet myself. It is now 99°F, in the shade.

12:30 – Lunch with chef. I order the Cuban (sandwich) and water. No fries. Arroz moros instead.

1:30 – Back to office. I have a car full of wine, a wine dinner tonight with the winemaker, and work back at my desk. Redoing a list of Italian wines, following up on previous calls and projects, and “checking in” with my colleagues. The temperature is now 103°F.

1:45 - Call to my Aunt Jo, who is 94 today. phone is busy.

3:30 - Walk down to first floor to photograph our mixologist for a blog post. She hands me three drinks she has made for a Grand Marnier cocktail challenge and asks me to taste them, tell me what I think of them.

4:30 – Looked up and saw the afternoon disappeared. I grab a bottle of water from the fridge and down it. Look out the window. A package arrives at my cubicle space. Parts for a computer. I unpack and condense the packaging and set aside the recyclable parts for the bin at home (we don’t have a big enough one at work).

4:40 - Call to my Aunt Jo, who is 94 today. Finally picks up.

4:41 - Run out mail a package. The temperature is now 108°F.

5:15 – I have to gather the supplier at 5:30 for the wine diner which starts at 6:30 halfway across town. Down the staircase, with a briefcase, a camera and other packages I feel a sharp twitch on my left side near my chest. As it get down the stairs in the parking garage the pain is getting more intense. I cannot breathe in too well. I try to stay calm.

5:22 – Selt-belted in the car, Air conditioning blasting high, the temperature in the garage says it is now 105°F. My left side is in pain, but I don’t think (or hope) it is a heart thing. I try to put my earphone (for the phone) in but it keeps falling out. I almost back up into a pillar in the garage. My heart rate is steady. The pain is increasing. I am getting nervous.

5:30 – I call Kim, more afraid of her than anything I’ve got. She lost her last guy to a heart attack and I don’t want her to get pissed at me because I didn’t listen to the signs. As she is talking to me, my supplier and winemaker pile into the car. Rush hour traffic is murder; the temperature now says 107°F. I hang up with Kim, as I don’t want to worry my car mates.

5:40 – I explain to my car mates that I am going to get them to the wine dinner and if I don’t feel better when we get there I will need to go do something about it. The winemaker looks upset; the supplier gets on the phone and starts swearing in French.

5:50 – Another importer friend calls me about a meeting on Monday. I have an earphone that is stuck nine yards up my ear, a sharp searing pain in my chest, a supplier and a winemaker in my car heading onto a freeway at rush hour; with a deadline to be somewhere and motorcyclist commuters are swerving in and out of traffic. Oh boy.

6:15 – We get to the wine dinner destination and I drop off my companions. I get back into the car, take off my tie, and call Kim back. “Should I go to the ER or a Doc-in-the-Box?” she was heading out to yoga, but decided not to. “You go to the Doc-in-the-Box where we took Renee. If you are worse off, they will call the ER and expedite your entry into the hospital. Go now!”

6:28 – On the surface streets at rush hour with commuters who have been cooped up in office downtown all day and the temperature is holding at 108°F.

6:40 – I walk in the Doc-in-the-Box. The pain is really intense now, but I am not panicking. I cannot blow my nose, sneeze or breathe heavily. I need to blow my nose. I need to pee. I am really uncomfortable now. And the desk lady hands me a pile of paperwork and asks for my insurance card, drivers license and credit card.

6:50- Sitting in the waiting room. There is the end of a movie with Dennis Quaid and Natasha Richardson on. They are in a wine cellar and he is manhandling a bottle of 1923 Burgundy in a room that is lit up like the 4th of July. I wonder if I am going to meet Natasha before this day is done. Both she and the bottle over Burgundy are dead and the saying, “non c'è due senza tre” runs through my head.

7:10 – Paper work done, and then scooted into a little, dark, cold room that has Leave it to Beaver on. I touch every button on the screen. Last thing I want to do is die with that running through my head.

7:15 – Vitals checked. All good. On to chest x-ray. Back to little, dark, cold room. The TV is now dead. Good, that’s the “tre”.

7:30 – Doctor comes in. shows me the x-rays. Stomach is filled with large pockets of air. “What did you have for lunch?” he asks. “Just a Cuban and some rice and beans,” I answer. “Do you eat beans often?” he asks. “All the time.” Not lying.

7:40 – Doctor asks me to lay back. He presses my abdomen and when he helps me get up, there is no more pain. None.

7:45 – Before he discharges me, the Doctor, tells me “Don’t eat anything spicy or creamy, stay away from fried foods and alcohol. Drink some Sprite or Perrier. And don’t lift anything for a few days and please try to stay out of the heat.”

8:00 – I show up at wine dinner. I missed the Vitello Tonnato course. Everyone is surprised to see me except the owner’s brother. He is putting on a pair of plastic gloves, looking like he's playing Doctor and getting ready to give a digital rectal exam. “Where’ve you been?” he asks. I scurry past him after I say hello in a funny, Italo-idiomatic way.

10:00 PM – After the dinner the supplier wants to go to the hotel and sleep. The winemaker wants to drink some of the supplier’s champagne. I call up several people to ask where we could go. We are directed to a quirky French-ish wine bar near the hotel. I proceed to drink a little Champagne and take my friends back to their hotel room. Temperature says it’s 99 °F at 11:00 PM.

11:45 PM - Go home eat some crackers and goat cheese, and watch an episode or two of Weeds and go to sleep. Wake up every two or three hours though the night with the worst headache. But I could breathe. And my heart was beating strong and steady.

All in a day’s work, on the wine trail, in August, back in the US of A.


TexaCali Ali said...

whew. glad is was the beans. now if someone could please explain the ALWAYS late (European) winemakers and their need for coffee all day in the scorching Texas heat. stay cool. - Ali

Gabe said...

Welcome Back!!!

Marco Messina said...

Good to hear it was the beans and not your ticker. What if you had seen her ( you thought you were having a heart attack?

Alfonso Cevola said...

very funny, guys. It wasn't the beans, knuckleheads...

Alfonso Cevola said...

Thanks Marco, but it's already hot enough here...geez are you trying to make me really have a heart attack?

Thomas said...

All the while, I thought the temperatures you were reporting were yours...

Left side pain, and you drove in traffic? You are a dedicated man, Alfonso. Glad it turned out ok.

VintageTexas said...

Sounds like it was a bit a dyspepsia or acid reflux and not the "big one" coming down the road like a Mac truck going 70 mph heading for your chest.

For a moment there, I though that you were going to blog right through the heart surgery while under only local anisthetic (sp?).

If anyone can do it, I'm sure it would be you, and that you would include some great photos, as well.

P.S. I had a similar issue while travelling in Japan for two weeks in the late 80's. It was scary, but understandable based on the amount of entertaining I did and the amount of liquor I consummed.



Unknown said...


Tracie P. said...

Not time to go tonnato yet! Step away from the beans...

Alfonso Cevola said...

I can't stop thinking about tonnato

Marco Macchiato said...

Tonnato juice is supposed to be good for gastritis attacks.

Alfonso Cevola said...

cute... it wasn't gastritis, it wasn't a heart attack, it wasn't the beans. it was a bubble of air trapped in my stomach from the huge difference between the air conditioned office (70 degrees) and the outside (over 100 degrees) and going in and out and up and down and carrying loads of stuff.

the doctor just had to burst the bubble in a non invasive manner, which is what he did.

Anonymous said...

I never thought it was a heart attack, although I wasn't sure what it was. If I had had even the faintest suspicion of the big one, I would have ordered you to the nearest ER pronto. You-know-who

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