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April 5, 2011


Biltmore Estate at Christmas


Unfortunately for me, the weekend passed by very quickly and it was time to pass through the Detroit airport on my way to the Carolinas. It was only a few weeks before Christmas but I wasn’t feeling the holiday spirit.  My shadow had decided to go in two days prior to the appointments under the pretense of researching the market by doing store checks. I arrive in Asheville and take a cab from the airport to the hotel because he can’t be inconvenienced to pick me up in the rental car.

On the ride to the hotel, I share a cab with a  gentleman named John that is in town to go and visit  Biltmore Estate all decked out for the holidays.  I have visited the Biltmore  on previous trips but figured there would be no chance to walk through the magnificent mansion on this trip with my shadow in tow.  John and I had a great chat about Asheville, and about the history of  the 8,000 acre estate.  He had booked a guided tour to make sure  he made the most of his visit and to soak up all the beauty of the Biltmore House and Gardens. I was so envious of John in that moment. I wanted back my joie de vivre. George Vanderbilt created Biltmore as an escape from everyday life and heaven knows I needed to escape my everyday life of late.  I would love to see The Biltmore Estate at Christmas.
I bid John farewell and checked into the hotel.

The next morning Doug, our food broker from Acosta Sales & Marketing, meets me and my shadow for breakfast in the lobby of the hotel he had had been kind enough to book for us.  We discuss our plan of action for the meetings.  We sit through my shadow’s life saga.  He tells Doug how important he and his partners are and how lucky the broker is to be working with us.  I pop my first Tylenol of the day and we  head to check out of the hotel.

During the check out, the desk clerk asks my shadow if he wants to leave the room charges on the credit card on file.  My shadow responds yes.  I have to interrupt.  I tell him we need to change the credit cards because the rooms were held with the broker’s personal card.  He said I didn’t use that reservation.  I asked him if he had cancelled that reservation.  He blank stared me and went on to pay.  Doug got stuck with the room charge for the non-cancelled reservation.  Way to build relationships!

We go through the day riding with my shadow. Doug has the guts to tell my shadow to let he and I do the talking.  It will be better that way. He is my new hero!  Then he  manages to arrange the chairs so that my shadow takes his seat slightly behind us to the rear of the room We pretend he is not there. I stand corrected; Doug is my new superhero. The meeting goes well.  We get the product placed.  At lunch my shadow tells us that it was a good thing he was there or we probably wouldn’t have gotten placement. Dead silence.

“I bet the Biltmore is gorgeous all decked out for the holidays.”  I offer up to break the silence.

“Yes.  We had one of our company parties there. It is absolutely beautiful.”  Doug replied.

“What’s the Biltmore?”  my shadow asks.

Doug and I exchanged a quick smile and just kept eating.

I remained silent and just stared out the passenger window of the car on the ride back to the hotel.  I really needed The Biltmore Estate at Christmas.


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