Thirteen years ago I began working with a man who in his earlier life was, like Patrick Swayze, a ballet dancer from Texas. By the time I met him, he had made the transition to another form of performance, another way to give the public an outstanding experience that they spend good money for. If you doubt that being a food and beverage director requires a great deal of grace, dramatic flair, improvisation, reading your audience, and endless, creative accommodation of individual whims, you haven’t tried to be successful at this. Nor have you met the master of all such abilities.
Scott Meynig had no qualms about saying that New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc tasted like cat pee. (How he knew what cat pee tastes like is a question I have no answer for.) Richard Hewitt, sommelier at the time, remembers the wine-tasting occasion when the wine/pee comparison was made. He also relates this story:
When Scott was running the banquet department I loved to throw him ‘ringers’ that would challenge him.
Scott: ‘Did you really promise the bride that the groom could ride in on a white horse dressed in armor’?
I would just reply that I was trying to up-sell the event.
Scott: ‘The horse and armor are fine but where are we going to get a lance?’
The 300+ people at Pippin Hill who gathered to celebrate Scott’s life on Tuesday of this week all had their own special admiration for him. Some remembered how he helped his family with their business, Family Ties & Pies, not only in the kitchen but also at the City Market on Saturday mornings (Charlottesville’s outstanding farmer’s market). Some remembered how he mentored them professionally. Some, his taking the time to listen to their personal bemoanings, followed by his ability to dole out wise advice in fifteen words or less. Some remembered his bottomless well of kindness and wit. Some, his get-the-job-done spirit and unbegrudging willingness to pitch in and move chairs and tables or whatever had to be done to make the event perfect for the guests.
I remember him saying that one of the most important things a person can do is just show up. The rest comes, but you have to be there. As much as one person could, Scott showed up. He never seemed in a hurry, but he got to where it mattered. His presence made the difference countless times to countless people. And everyone knew that if Scott was there, whatever was happening would be better. I never saw anyone take charge in such a quiet way. His teams were unfailingly loyal. Is it any wonder? Who wouldn’t want to get on board with this caliber a leader?
I am honored to have known him, to have worked side by side, to have gathered my own nuggets of gold from his masterful performances. I am so grateful he practiced what he preached, grateful that he just showed up, time and again, during the window of time we had, grateful to have watched him do the next thing with seeming ease, with unshakeable commitment, with spot-on humor. Many will miss him, none more than his amazing family.
May we all have a Scott in our lives.
6 thoughts on “Just Show Up”
Very touching, Patricia…
Thank you. When someone touches the lives of that many people in such a positive way, you know he was someone very special.
I’m so sorry for your loss! Scott sounded like a wonderful person and I’m sure he will continue to be missed but that he will also live on in all the lives he touched! Mona
Thank you kindly, Mona. It’s also too bad he didn’t retire sooner. He was just at the beginning of that part of life. So so sad. A person who worked as hard and as much as he did should have a long retirement and it would be well deserved.
I love what you wrote about Scott. He was more influential to me than any other person I’ve ever known. He DID show up all the time and he was always present and available to anyone who needed him, and that was a lot of people all the time. It’s astonishing to me still that somehow there was always enough of him to go around. His reward was fierce loyalty, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough. I can’t believe he’s gone, but his wisdom lives in myself and hundreds of others who were fortunate enough to be graced by his presence.
Thank you, Tobie, for affirming this great quality Scott had (among many others). His legacy is strong and will continue to make a difference in your life and mine. I can’t even imagine the number of people who could say the same thing about his influence on them. More than we will ever know, I’m sure!