By Raymond Napolitano
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Unfortunately, neither Calvin nor Michele were there, having finally gotten a night off. In and of itself, that wasn''t particularly scintillating news. What was, was the return of JAMES STRIEGEL, senior waiter and overseer of operations when the dynamic duo are off. The reason it was so great to see James there (or anywhere for that matter) was that he had spent the past couple of weeks recovering from an interesting and highly unusual malady-he was bitten by a BROWN RECLUSE SPIDER.
For those of you arachnaphobically impaired, a Brown Recluse Spider is one nasty little bugger. When one bites you, it leaves this venom that starts to eat away your skin, exposing a gaping hole around the area it bit, a hole that keeps increasing in size. Skin grafts are often necessary and in some cases, amputation of limbs is common. Occasionally, death is a by-product.
If that wasn''t enough fun for one person, James also contracted a staph infection in the hospital so he was completely quarantined from all human contact for a while. In addition, he, like virtually every other restaurant employee, has no medical insurance. Naturally, the hospital bills ran into the tens of thousands. Hopefully, he will be eligible for the program CHOMP offers that helps pay for these situations.
The way it happened was, James was helping a friend clean off a roof of loose materials, leaves and stuff. He had been blowing the roof clean and feels that he probably dislodged one of those little monsters and it somehow landed on him. He was wearing shorts, which, in retrospect he felt was probably a mistake. "The bite looks like a little volcano with a scab on top," James recalled. "After a couple of days, it was killing me. My roommate looked on the Internet and we realized it was a Brown Recluse bite. We both knew I had to get to the hospital-on the way I was just praying."
Fortunately, James has rebounded nicely and the wound has almost completely closed up. He was in good spirits that evening and looked like his old self, except for the funny way he kept trying to climb up the wall. Hopefully, the full effects of the venomous demon spider will eventually wear off. Ask him to see the pictures.
HEALTHHELP...It really is a sad state of affairs when so many hard-working folks are forced to live without health, or any other form of insurance. The cost of simple health care is so steep that soon only the very rich will be able to get help.
Small businesses and even many large businesses have cut out any benefits for employees and the government, although faced with rising costs for years, has all but ignored the issue.
Restaurants, except those attached to large hotels or big, corporate chains, are rarely able to offer their employees any health benefits. Think about the injustice of the service industry-people who spend their lives serving others-not being able to be served health care when necessary.
It''s about time our society started to prioritize issues according to factors other than solely economic. It is not overly dramatic to imply that the very social fabric today is disintegrating. When concern for our fellow humans is diminished, in addition to disregard for the physical world we inhabit, it doesn''t take a genius to extrapolate the effects waiting for us in the future.
WATCH THE BOUNCING BALL...Thank God for golf. By the time this column is published, I will have already played in the MONTEREY COUNTY HOSPITALITY ASSOCIATION GOLF TOURNAMENT, being held this year at CARMEL VALLEY RANCH, won prizes for longest drive, closest to the pin, most accurate drive, first place in the scramble and, with a perfectly struck 7-iron, will have collected $12,000 worth of wine from TERRANOVA FINE WINES in Monterey for a hole-in-one on the par 3 thirteenth. Then, of course, I will have awakened from that glorious dream, only to find our foursome mired somewhere in the middle of the pack, with nothing to show off except a mild hangover and a few more laughs with the gang.
I wonder if AVRAM DEITCH will be playing (will have played) in the tournament. He''s been kind of stalking me, sending me emails and calling me on the phone or telling my friends that I need to make him a star. I think he''s GEORGE EDWARDS'' illegitimate son, or SCOTT THOMASEN''s ex-prison cellmate. Anyway, I wish he would stop harassing me, it''s starting to make me really nervous.
-Harass ray at email@example.com