Incognito

 

“So, who’s going to read this? Where will it be published?”

I suppose this is what it’s like to talk with a spy or an undercover agent.

 

“Do you have to use my real name?”

Or a fugitive from the law.

 

“You’re not going to mention where I work, are you?”

Or, maybe, someone in witness protection.

 

“I just don’t like to have my business out there.”

 

As someone who has broadcast innumerable episodes of my personal life into print or a microphone, I was wholly intrigued by this Spy Agent Fugitive Mob Murder Witness.

“Are you baffled by people who aren’t as protective of their privacy?” I ask.

I didn’t expect him to hold judgments against those folks (ahem, me), but I did wonder whether he had a reflex of curiosities when he saw the unabashed and aggressively social in action.  I, for example, will invariably mutter “how,” “why” and “what tha-” if I witness a parent getting publicly sassed by their kid.  It’s such a foreign phenomenon to me (I didn’t, my sister didn’t, my parents didn’t, my aunts and uncles didn’t, my cousins didn’t, my children better not ever…), I’m sure my jaw still hangs open whenever I see such a spectacle.

But Spy Agent says he doesn’t have the same incredulous thoughts about the gregarious public types.

“Everyone has to do their own thing,” he says, leaning back in his chair. “Some people like to keep themselves out there.  Me, I don’t need to be seen.”

I will share that the Spy Agent Fugitive Mob Murder Witness works in an undisclosed location, for an unidentified global company, and is an alumni of an unnamed local university.  He has an unverified number of children and has been married for a generally significant number of years.

“I’m just a low-key type of guy,” he says with a sly smile.

I ask what brings him to the Pfister (I can only divulge that we were somewhere inside the property) and he explains that whenever he finds himself downtown with time to fill, he comes here to get work done .

“Actually, I go to a lot of places along Mason Street.”

Right. Of course.

“Have you always been like this? I ask.

He considers. “For the most part,” he says, “but it really kicked in after college.  I found it easier to maneuver through life this way.”

Spy Agent assured me there wasn’t a public scandal in his past or an egregious betrayal to set him on this course.  Rather, he determined the best way to minimize drama is to minimize his exposure to dramatic situations and people.

“The world is made up of folks who tend to be haters,” Spy Agent says. “They learn a little about you and then start concerning themselves with where you’ve been, what you’ve got, who you hang out with and all that. I don’t need that stress.”

He mentioned that his wife, conversely, is heavily involved in the community and a social network.  “Way more people know my wife,” he says.

I ask, then, how they balance their lives as Introvert and Extrovert. Spy Agent promptly corrects me.

“I’m not an introvert at all,” he says. “I’m extremely sociable.  People who know me, know all sides of me.  I’m not shy or any of that.”

“So what is it?” I ask.

“I want to do things when I want to, and I don’t always need people,” he says simply.  “I’ve had people mistake that for arrogance or being antisocial.  Some have taken it personally.  I’ve even been called a few names. With the exception of my wife, I could go days without interaction.  I can’t help how other people see it. I only care about my peace of mind.”

I nod in slow deference, finally understanding Spy Agent’s perspective.  I, too, am social when I choose to be and unapologetic when I opt, instead, to bunker in my house. Spy Agent was overflowing with personality but, in equal measures,  determined to filter only the best of best-case scenarios into his personal time. I asked how he spends those pockets of undisturbed time.

“California.”

He says that and his wife became “winos” about two years ago and escape to a winery in Southern California every few months.

“Beautiful,” Spy Agent says. “The estate. The hills. The patio. Not a cloud in the sky. Not any kind of schedule. It’s the perfect getaway.  Completely laid back.  That’s what I’m about: being laid back.”

Got it.  I ended up having quite an engaging conversation with Spy Agent, once I’d gotten past his security screen.  As I begin to wrap up, I explain the hotel blog and Narrator program again, snap a faceless photo, get his follow-up information.

“Will I get to sign off on what you’ve written?”

“What if I don’t approve?”

“Take another photo. I don’t think my laptop should be open.”

“No names, right?”

Right.  You’ve got it absolutely right.

… and One to Go

Tom and Marge are almost there. One kid is halfway through college and the other has just vacated the guest room.

“You’re not off duty when your kids turn 18,” says Tom. “Not even when they’re out of college. A good friend warned me long ago that 30 is the new cutoff.”

Marge is wearing an “Illinois State Mom” tee shirt, which is what initially caught my attention. I earned my undergrad degree from Illinois State University and was pleased to see the unexpected Redbird pride.

“Our daughter is studying communications,” she said. “She’ll be a sophomore.”

Their son, the firstborn, the graduate, had studied accounting.  After a prolonged search and a move back home, he recently landed an accounting gig, complete with an office to finally mount his well-earned degree. Tom and Marge tell me he was back home in Chicago –at that moment– unloading cardboard boxes into his first grown up apartment.

Marge is distracted by her cell phone. “It’s him,” she said, smiling down to the phone screen.

“Ask him if he saw Colvin hit,” Tom says excitedly across the table. She doesn’t reply. “Ask him about Colvin.”

Marge’s slender fingers are nimble across the keypad. He watches for a moment, waiting, but she doesn’t look up.  Tom turns to me and tells me about baseball, how his family loves the game, how he hopes to visit every major league ball park.

“Just visit and tour,” I ask, “or will it only count if you see a game?”

Tom pinches his face, disapproving of my absurd suggestion. “A game,” he said. “Gotta see a game.”

The Cardinals played the Colorado Rockies that night, I learned.  Marge rejoined the conversation, “He saw it. They took a break from unpacking.”

More accurately than “rejoined the conversation,” I should say that  Marge was finished with her text conversation.  She would politely engage with us when pressed but, mostly, she listened as Tom and I talked. Initially, I worried that she was annoyed with my questions.  Then, I thought she was feeling drained from a full day in the sun or weary due to the late hour. When Tom announced that it was their 27th wedding anniversary, however, I recognized Marge’s nonplussed posture as simply a patient immunity to her husband’s enthusiasm for talking to strangers.

“Twenty-seven years,” I say. “What segments were the hardest with your kids?”

“It was scary when they were learning how to drive,” Marge said without effect. “They’re a lot more fun now that they’re out of their teens.”

“The elementary years were my favorite,” Tom said. “It was seventh and eighth grade that frustrated the hell out of me.”

Marge looks up from a menu. “You have to pick your battles,” she said.

“Yeah, you gotta pick your battles,” Tom said, flinging his hands into the air for emphasis. “She would always tell me that, but it wasn’t always easy.”

His smile was at once sheepish and precocious. I could imagine their span of years punctuated with fits of laughter, tight-jawed debates, picnics in the living room, beers in the backyard, a four-bicycle parade through the park. I could also imagine a catalog of skinned knees, broken toys and near-disasters. Every family has them, especially families with children.

“I kept reminding my kids that every sly move they were thinking of, we’d probably thought it or done it,” Tom says. “Smoking, drinking, making out, fighting, all of it. Kids want to believe they’re so clever when they’re young.”

“Just like we did,” I remind him.

“They appreciate things now,” Marge adds.

Tom smiles at his wife, settled by some truism. “Yeah,” he says, his voice sloped at the edges now. “It’s a great feeling when they start asking for your advice again.”

Marge and Tom have another night in Milwaukee. Both have family within an hour of the city and have decided to include the summer drive as part of their anniversary getaway. I congratulate them on their celebration and on getting their kids safely into adulthood.

“Whatever will you do with all that space and free time?” I ask, teasing.

Tom looks to Marge and then turns to me with an all-star’s smile. He leans in, speaking slowly and deliberately: “Whatever we want to.”

Rocks in their Pockets

They were like the prologue for a coming of age film, an assuring glimpse at how adulthood will frame their childhood adventures. John, with his salted hair, and Perry, with laugh lines softening his eyes, fell into the couch beside mine talking and laughing with the fluid shorthand of longtime friends and the loosened inhibitions of Summerfest beer. They were neither obnoxious nor loud, but generated an energy that pulled me in like static.

“Ours is a timeless tale,” John boomed when I asked them to tell me their story.  His smile was confident and his blue eyes were sharp behind his glasses.  That he answered me with his best movie announcer voice signaled that he was also a seasoned wise guy.

“Not timeless,” Perry said, admonishing John with a shake of his head.  They were both dressed casually in short pants and short sleeves. Perry’s shirt was neatly tucked. He turned to me to repeat, “It’s not timeless. You can’t say it’s timeless.”

“We’ve been coming up here for years,” John said, his thick hand slicing the air in front of him. “It used to be, like, an enormous pack of us back in the day.”

“Not a pack,” Perry corrected with a sideways smile.  “It was, like, eight of us.”

“Eight can be a pack,” John said, turning his shoulders to face Perry. After they exchanged a few rapid rounds, John sliced the air again, his vintage Schlitz t-shirt sloping the curve of his stomach “Okay,” he conceded, “we were a large group.”

They were practiced in this sharpening of one another, this joust. They’ve been friends for more than 25 years, meeting in high school at the northern ends of Chicago. They agreed that they had become instant friends.

Even after handing me this point of fact, I couldn’t help imagining much younger snapshots of them: knobby knees with scratched and examined scabs, bicycle races, rocks in their pockets, swapped comic books, and exploring together.  Always together.

“He’s been my best man twice,” John said.

“I did a pretty good job both times,” Perry said when I asked for which wedding he had been the better Best Man.  “Although, I might’ve done too good of a job the second time.”

Perry snickers at a memory and John cosigns by looking back over his shoulder and tossing a laugh to his friend.  John had been engaged in a separate lively discussion with the couple just joining our circle-of-couches community, but still managed to train an ear for one of their private jokes.  Always, always together.

Within the span of thirty minutes, John and Perry had turned our sitting area into a studio party. There’s a talent agent charting the arc of his career.  A young couple sighing that they’d been awkwardly confused as siblings all night. The mysterious would-be emcee wrapped in a head scarf and unseasonably heavy clothing. The managing editor with a love for comic books. And we’re all laughing. We’re all letting loose. We’re all at ease. We’re all drawn to the alchemy that is Perry and John.

When they return to their suburb, they’ll return to their very grown up selves as executives and family men.  They will commute.  They will negotiate.  They will work in the yard.  They will consume news and media. They will manage their expenses. They will plan for another summer.  They will navigate new scenes in their endearing, “timeless” tale. Always, always together.

The Society

There are rules, and there are rules. The first kind, we largely agree to be hard fast: stealing is wrong, kindness is good, unhealthy eating creates an unhealthy body, and cutting off someone in traffic fills your rear view mirror with crude hand gestures.

The second kind of rules, even italicized in our minds, are the ones we might conveniently recast as “guidelines:” wearing a helmet, copying your supervisor on every email, visiting the dentist twice a year and waiting until Happy Hour for an afternoon cocktail.

I brush away these mental italics and sip my whiskey.  It’s almost 2 pm here in Milwaukee, which means it’s almost 5pm in Portland. Or Reno. Or San Luis Obispo.  I sip, then, in solidarity.

Looking around the lobby lounge, I count two cups of coffee, one tea, one juice, two cokes and five bottles of water.  To my delight, however, a handful have also dismissed the italics to enjoy a midday toast:

Margarita

Mary is waiting for her airport shuttle.  She’s traveling back to Tucson where she works in TV advertising. “It’s the only thing I know how to do and, thank God, I do it really well.”

She is originally from Milwaukee, but hasn’t stood on the city’s soil since leaving 30 years ago.  A wedding -her favorite niece- lured her back, so she made a point of visiting her old Bay View neighborhood

“It turned out to be a highlight of my weekend,” Mary said.  Her skin was tan, her eyes were piercing and her dark hair was collected into a loose bun. “Milwaukee has turned into a hip, forward-moving city … but I can’t wait to get home to my own bed.”  We made a toast to Our Own Bed.

Pinot Grigio

Two young women, a blonde and a brunette, are curled to face each other on a couch. Both are attractive, both are in their late twenties and both had plenty on their minds. As I approach, their conversation feels dramatic but not intense. Facial expressions and hand gestures suggest the retelling of some unfortunate transgression by some unfortunate third party whose ears should be, unfortunately, burning at the moment.

The potential plot of their discussion exploded in my imagination once I learned they were political organizers. They met early in their careers during a campaign in Memphis. Brittany, the brunette, lives in Milwaukee now but hails from Seattle. Raven, visiting with her friend while in town from Washington DC, is originally from Houston.

“I’m sorry we were so cold at first,” Brittany said, reaching for her wine glass.  Raven only had water. “It must take a lot of guts to approach strangers.  Definitely wouldn’t happen where I’m from.”

“It’s true,” Raven said, mentioning a trip she’d made to Seattle. “They’re polite, but they don’t talk to anyone.  In the south, we talk to everyone.  The mix of those is probably why the Midwest is so confusing.” We laugh and toast Talking to Strangers.

 Beer

The couple chatted easily across their café table.  She had a tea and he had a tall stein of beer.  As I explained the Narrator appointment, Theresa listened enthusiastically. I quickly decided that joy and delight were essential elements of her world. She was effervescent, her eyes sparkling when she thanked the waiter, when her husband, Marty, described how they met, when they spoke of their children and, especially, as she remembered their travels.

“We’ve been to 70 countries,” Teresa said.  They live in northern Idaho out in the “extreme country.” Soft curls of honey wheat have been pulled away from her face.  She is a striking woman.  “Our kids have been to 22 or 26.”

“And 48 of the 50 states,” adds Marty. He is tall and bespectacled, sporting a boyish cut to his silver hair, and brandishing an endearingly mischievous grin. Turns out Marty is “America’s favorite veterinarian,” appearing regularly on Good Morning America and Dr. Oz. They’re visiting Milwaukee as part of a book tour.

Although they travel the world –logging Egypt and Bali as past favorites– they’re most looking forward to an extended family vacation in Oregon.

“We love it there. It’s beautiful and simple,” Teresa says. “Perfect.”  Toast to Simple and Perfect.

Malbec

When I explained my Five O’Clock Somewhere Sip Society to Don, he immediately raised his glass in a toast.

“To five o’clock!”

From Ontario, Don publishes a national magazine called Construction Canada.  He’d been pecking furiously at his keyboard when I started my Sip interviews.  I almost didn’t see his glass positioned behind the laptop.

“If you’re going to be parked somewhere working,” he said, “no reason why you shouldn’t enjoy a glass of wine.”

I told him of my nascent knowledge of wine, that I purchase bottles based on clever names or handsome labels. Don’s passion for wine was sparked by his passion for food.  He became interested in pairing wines after his first trip to New Orleans.

“Cajun and Creole foods were every bit as good as I’d heard,” he said, “and the flavors were even more enhanced by the wine.” Don and his wife have been students ever since: traveling to vineyards, attending classes, even making their own batches. They get together with friends often to enjoy one of Don’s gourmet meals and sample a complimentary, new wine.

“Wine is best when shared with people you love and care about,” Don said. He and his wife will be empty nesters soon and have been unwavering about maintaining balance in their lives.

“It’s all about quality of life and enjoying the life you’ve made,” Don says.  “At the end of the day, nothing else matters.”

I’ll gladly drink to that.

The New Café Pfister CinnaBar


Who doesn’t love a cinnamon roll? For generations they have been a staple in kitchens in Northern Europe and North America.

There are few things that can beat the wonderful aroma of cinnamon and freshly baked, view buttery bread. Then you finally get to taste the warm, sweet and gooey creation that pairs so perfectly with a cup of coffee or glass of milk.

It’s a classic for a reason.

For years, the Café Pfister has offered classic cinnamon rolls, but executive Chef Brian Frakes and his team decided to put their own, delicious spin on the classic.

He and the pastry team sat down and created a menu item that promises to become a staple for the Café. But what could be such an item that would showcase the team’s amazing pastry chops and elevate the Café Pfister dining experience?

Thus the CinnaBar was created.

This pastry innovation begins with a house made, buttery Danish-inspired dough that is run through a machine called a sheeter, giving the cinnamon rolls their light and fluffy texture. From there we begin layering the dough with butter, sugar and Saigon cinnamon from the Spice House. But this is just the beginning.

What makes the cinnamon roll complete are the array of fresh homemade toppings on the Cinnabar from which you can choose to add to your roll that best suits your taste buds.

You can select from three decadent toppings:

  • Wisconsin maple cream cheese icing
  • Fresh raspberry cream cheese icing
  • Vanilla cream cheese icing

But the fun doesn’t end there. You can top your personal creation with an array of wonderful accoutrements, including:

  • House-made candied pecans
  • Chocolate chips
  • Raisins

Stop by the Café Pfister to build your own soon-to-be world famous cinnamon roll! Served daily, we have one of these delicious creations waiting for you.

We look forward to seeing you soon.

       

Pink Frosted Dreams

I sensed them before I saw them.  A carbonated excitement that pushed aside the steady hum of the front lobby.  It was a gaggle of girls, clinic perhaps 10 or 11 years old.  They had tote bags on their shoulders and duffle bags dropped to their feet.  Their small group, roughly a half dozen, tittered blissfully, gazing up to the ornate ceiling, pointing to the chandeliers, looking around at the austere paintings on the wall.  Nearby, two mothers are digging in their handbags and collating paper printouts, waiting to check in.  A third woman stood with the Pfister narratorgirls.  Her smile seemed to relish the girls’ delight while her eyes were attentive to the other lobby guests.  Great instincts; she was not a rookie chaperone.

I offered to share cupcakes with the girls in the café while the mothers got checked in.  More great mother-chaperone instincts: she was listening for red flags and scanning my soul as I introduced myself.  I expected nothing less.  I asked her to join us and we all tumbled into the café.

They were a Girl Scout troop from a suburb of Chicago.  In addition to a camping trip, an excursion to a fancy hotel in another city had been their goal for this year’s cookie money and fundraising.

“This is SO cool,” said one, as we sat at a long table. They nodded to each other in agreement. They were a calico assembly of curls, ponytails, dimples, glasses, friendship bracelets and giggles.

I learned most of them were fifth graders as well as veteran Girl Scouts.  I asked what they liked most about being Girl Scouts.  They told me they enjoyed learning new things, going new places, and sharing a connection that was special from their “regular” classmates and friends.

“We only meet a few times a month, so it’s special when we’re all together.”

The girls admit that they’ve matured together too, learning how to plan things and even how to fight and make up.  When I asked them to describe themselves, they offered “funny,” “talented,” “loving,” “electric.”

When I asked what they each wanted to be when they grew up, I was prepared for Doctor, Lawyer, Veterinarian, Police Officer, the short list of ambitions that we grown ups typically dispense to children.  My heart leapt with joy to hear, instead, Trapeze Artist, Interior Designer, Teacher, Viola Player, Pilot.

Of course, I’ll have no way of knowing if the girls will land on these goals 10-20 years from now.  Still, I was excited to hear that they were already dreaming outside the box.  Don’t get me wrong, there are phenomenal careers inside the box, but you have to admire the vast number of pre-schoolers who, according to a recent Forbes poll, intend to become superheroes and princesses. They’ll realize how competitive those gigs are, eventually. In fact, a survey on Salary.com reports that 70% of us changed our “dream job” once we became adults. (Although 60% of us still wish for those childhood ideals.) Realized or not, the point is to dream.

My merry band of cupcakes began to fall away into spirited side conversations.  All three mothers were with us now, the adult business of check-ins and room keys handled. Annie, my cupcake girls’ self-appointed spokesperson, explained that they were hoping to have two adjoining rooms separate from the mother-chaperones.

“I doubt that’s going to happen,” she said with a comical twist at the mouth.

“Probably not,” I agreed, giving her a wink.  “But it never hurts to dream.”

Like Chocolate Cake For Breakfast

 

That’s the best way I can describe this Narrator experience. My last few posts will be going live over the next couple of days and my successor will be at work getting acquainted with the speed and rhythm of this sparkling old gal on Wisconsin Avenue. From an artistic standpoint it’s been like getting to eat chocolate cake for breakfast every day. The staff have been great. They’ve been generous with information, gracious in introducing me to guests and other coworkers, and ever tolerant of my constant game of 20 questions.

Every day I’ve arrived at the hotel the guests, employees, and structure itself have all been potential colors across my palette with which to paint this experience. So here we are, having arrived at the point of final conclusions.

Well, fellow writer, here’s what I have to leave you with. My two cents for you to take or leave. The rabbit hole is in front of you. Do you take the red or blue pill? This is your garden to till, and you determine how fruitful the result.

* Get a gym membership. There are pastries all over this place. They taste too good. Too good! Hopefully your will is stronger than mine in the face of bakery.

* Tip well. Especially in the beginning. You will be loved even more.

* Conversation is give and take. The first part of that is give. Most people aren’t familiar with being interviewed but most everybody knows how to have a conversation. For people to get comfortable enough to tell you the good stories it’s often necessary to offer something about your life, sometimes before they do.

* Don’t get too over concerned about the writing. They chose you for a reason. Write it. Post it. Exhale. Have a drink.

* Don’t be afraid to ask. The more you engage the staff the more they will engage you. The people who have been here a long time are a wealth of knowledge. Several people have worked at the Pfister longer than I’ve been alive! But if you don’t ask they won’t necessarily offer their information. Some of them have seen decades of faces working here and it might take a while before they recognize yours.

* The concierge has a list of events for the week. I liked to ask what was coming up to be present for the ones which sounded the most interesting to cover.

* I’m pleasantly surprised there was a job to do and that we (as humans) haven’t entirely traded our social skills for laptop computers and backlit telephones. I wonder if after book publishing became widespread, social types feared the world would shove it’s head in a book and never again converse.

* My favorite meal is breakfast. Any time of day, breakfast feels like starting all over again. The Cafe at the Pfister makes terrific breakfast until 2pm.

* Guests will expect you to know about the hotel’s history, art collection, and surrounding downtown area. The more information you can offer, the more credibility it will provide the ethereal Narrator title when trying to answer the question, “So, what is it that you do here?”

It’s been a great fun half year. The experience has felt akin to being a part of a theater production, or a circus. Except the circus is stationary and the carnival-goers are the travelers who come to visit you. Strap yourself in and take the ride up that first roller coaster climb…

 

Joe, The Rookie

I’m not the first to find Joe as a subject. Katie Musolff also painted him outside on Wisconsin Avenue during a break.

“I’m going to be 22.”

That was Joe’s answer when I asked how old he was. His response was shared with a grin in that adorable way that only people up to a certain age are excited to tell you how old they’re going to be.

Joe started with the Pfister as a busser at the ripe young age of 18. After time spent cleaning tables Joe moved on to being a food runner and from there he has become a bartender. Joe bartends upstairs in Blu on occasion but most nights you can find him downstairs in the lobby lounge. This is where he prefers to spend his workday, as he prefers the relaxed vibe and the ability to spend time getting to know his customers.

To be fair; calling Joe a rookie isn’t entirely accurate. He has worked at the Pfister Hotel for 4 years.

The other day Joe and I were discussing houses. I just bought a fixer-upper in the Harambee neighborhood and Joe asked about my buying experience and challenges faced thus far in remodeling. Joe said that he’s thinking about buying a house. Maybe a single family, maybe a duplex. Something that a couple of handy buddies can move in and help him fix up in exchange for cheap rent. He gets that far-off glassy gaze while describing his house. “Somewhere that can be my own place with a pool table and a garden and I can make it my own.”

“How old are you anyway, Joe?” I finally asked him.  That’s when he told me he was going to be 22.

“How many 22 year olds who want to buy a house and put roots down?” I found myself thinking. This is the biggest reason I waffle on whether or not to call this guy a rookie.

Joe is the youngest bartender currently pouring drinks between the Pfister’s lobby lounge, Mason Street Grill, and Blu.

Possibly as a result of being a young he is interested in discovering new things. Joe is always quick with the best place to get a bite of food, try an innovative cocktail, or find an under-the-radar music venue. He knows who has the best hot wings, and where the burgers only cost a buck on Thursdays. He’s got his pulse on the city and it would be a traveler’s loss not to ask this young man his recommendation. I call Joe a rookie not because of a lack of experience, but because of the youthful excitement we all hope to keep fostering as we grow older.

It’s true that at 22 he may not yet be a walking recipe dictionary for every variety of fruit juicy martini, or ironically named shaker filled with frou frou creamy sweet shots. But his youthful manner is very much a boon to the young man. Joe doesn’t lean behind the bar with the sneer of a bartender who has “seen it all,” and as such hasn’t developed a bedraggled ambivalence to the world. Joe hasn’t seen it all. The world is still relatively new to him. He hasn’t heard it all, and he’s not developed the presumption to assume how your story is going to end when you’re in the middle of telling it. This guy is interested in hearing about your hometown, your last vacation, or an artist whose work he hasn’t previously been exposed to. Joe has the current experience which one cannot buy, the experience of being in the middle of one’s glorious youth. But for the mere cost of a glass of beer, you can enjoy Joe’s company. Which is almost as good as being young again yourself.

Roc’s Road to Milwaukee

There tend to be patterns of why people live where they live. Often times they got a job nearby, or that’s where they went to school, or possibly their spouse’s family is from the area.

Roc is a concierge at the Pfister and his path to Milwaukee definitely did not follow any of these typical routes. Roc and his Quaker lineage hail from Northwest Indiana. In his home state Roc had been a teacher of Latin, German, and English before becoming involved in starting non-profit organization. The organization provided the beginnings of what we now know as head-start programs, urban transit and information offices, and elderly health care programs. This would have been a fulfilling enough life for most, but Roc was then made aware that a member of his family was in need of serious help. Already in his 50’s Roc up and moved to Milwaukee to try his hand at parenting for the first time.

If you’ve ever met Roc behind the concierge desk you know that the man is a terrific storyteller. Below I’ll let you hear his story as he tells it. Click Play or Download below to hear Roc’s experience of arriving in Milwaukee and his sentiments on how invigorating later-life parenting can be.