Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dispatch from the Gate House

In my capacity as Gatekeeper of Stratford Hall, my duties are to help control/monitor access to the property and to direct our guest, visitors, and contractors to their destinations. The Gatekeeper is also the first person to meet and welcome all visitors.  We create the all-important first impression.

For the most part, this is an enjoyable position. I am afforded the opportunity of meeting many very interesting people from locations far and wide. Not only do I have the gratification of assisting our guest in accomplishing the intended purpose of their visit, I also learn many fascinating things from them.

Often times people ask me if the job gets monotonous, out there away from the other buildings and with no one to talk to. My answer is NO! Every day is different. The visitors to Stratford are from all walks of life, ages, and nationalities...each with a different motivation for their visit. 

Perhaps the role I enjoy the most  is answering the numerous questions our valued guests ask. I will never forget one of my earlier experiences in this regard. In the early spring, beautiful fresh blossoms and flowers welcome visitors to Stratford as they approach the front gate. On one occasion, a rather energetic senior citizen inquired of me the name of one of these blossoms. I told her: “ I do not know, but you are about the fourth person to ask.”  She then said: “Well did it ever occur to you to find out?”

This was a good lesson for me.  I did find out that they were Mountain Laurels. From that day on, whenever I am asked a question, I do find the answer.

What is the most frequent question I hear? Well, besides being home to about 40 head of Red Devon Cattle and three horses, Stratford also has several goats.  The majority are very content in the confines of their pen... except one. We affectionately call her Izzie. She is a smaller goat who has a way of crawling beneath the fence in order to graze anywhere she pleases. Izzie always goes home when she is ready, but not before several people stop by and say: “Sir, do you know your goat is loose?”

I am tempted to have a t-shirt made up that reads: "Yes, I know the goat is loose.”

- Larry, Gatekeeper

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