HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | MARCH 2017 | Transitions edition | Xenodocheio & Spiritual Connections

Last night I met Dean at the lobby bar, relaxing with a cocktail.  I had just asked the bartender, Shelby, for a cordial of wisdom and she had offered that her “life motto has always been that laughter is a cure for everything. And there’s something you can laugh at in every situation.”  Dean agreed with her, then asked me what I was doing.  I told her and she told me that she had worked for many years in the Spa as a hairdresser and that even though she has her own studio space down the street now, she still comes back to The Pfister for drinks because she loves the atmosphere.  Dean is the first of March’s Humans of The Pfister and without my having to announce this month’s theme of Transitions (the awkward meteorological transition from winter to spring we’ve been experiencing, with balmy weather one day and snow the next gave me the idea), she began with an etymological lesson about transience.

I’m Greek, and the Greek word for hotel is xenodocheio (ξενοδοχειο), which means something like “a place of strangers.”  That’s what a hotel is. They’re not about the locals–it’s a transient place.  And a hotel bar–it’s a real mix of everybody.

I’ve met so many people here at the bar–lots of celebrities, obviously, and, get this, I was Barbara Bush’s hairdresser any time she was here–but I really enjoyed Maya Angelou.  I was sitting her and she came up and sat next to me, just like you are.  And I fanned out on her!  But she was–just like she is.  Cool, laidback.  A guest just like anybody else.

She’s a spiritual person.  I’m a spiritual person.  So we connected spiritually.  If you connect with someone spiritually, then the subject of the conversation doesn’t matter as much.  We could talk about cars or politics or whatever.  But that’s all stupid.  Not stupid–I don’t mean it that way.  But insignificant in the long run.  What you will remember at the end of your life is the connections.

I wanted to capture Dean laughing.  Something was wrong with my new camera (well, it was probably me–I’m still learning about f-stops and low-light conditions and ISO settings!), but I kind of like how her photo turned out: a little blurry, a lot authentic, and even a little spiritual.

Author: Dominic Inouye

As a teacher for over twenty years, Dominic Inouye has worked with everyone from elementary school students to adult learners, creative writers and physical therapists, to help them develop their reading, writing, critical thinking, and, most of all, their voices.  He began his career at Marquette University, expecting to become the next Mr. Keating from Dead Poets Society, then made a surprise move to the high school classroom, where he found his home at Pius XI High School, then later at The Prairie School in Wind Point, Wisconsin, where he is completing his seventh and final year as an English teacher. Never one to pull an old lesson plan out of a dusty file cabinet and re-use it year after year, Inouye began experimenting from the very beginning with how to integrate authentic, real-world, transformative learning into his students’ study of literature and the expression of ideas.  Examples include his founding of the Milwaukee Spotlight Student Film Festival, the C.L.A.S.S. program, which brings together 4th-12th graders for service learning, and the Senior Capstone program of individualized research projects.  As expected, Inouye will not be bringing any dusty ideas to the Pfister--only creative celebrations of new voices. Inouye was chosen to serve as the hotel’s ninth Pfister Narrator based on his writing style, his vision for the role, and his personality.