My 1st job as a college student in Hawaii was at a boutique-type flower shop making leis and flower deliveries in an upscale mall less than 2 miles from my dorm. It took me less than 15 minutes plus 2 quarters by The Bus to get there, or I could take a brisk walk and make it in half-an-hour. Usually I took The Bus (that is literally the name of the public bus system) because it was handy and extremely efficient. Anywhere on the island of Oahu could be reached by The Bus for 50-cents each way. Although I’d begged my Daddy for a car, when he visited me he went with me to all of the places that I would ever need or want to go to….then he declared that I did NOT need a car because The Bus was well-suited for anything that I’d need it for.
The flower shop owner was, at the time, the top designer in the entire state and was much in demand for weddings as well as office and resort floral displays. This kept him very busy jetting to the other islands, and he was only at the store during business hours a couple of times per week to check on bookings. Those of us working there basically answered the phones, helped the walk-in customers, and constantly made leis of every kind. The boss had several gigantic coolers of beautiful tropical floral displays that were ‘sold out’ daily. Somehow, as if by magic, the coolers were refilled with dozens of new ‘creations’ by the next morning. Our boss was amazing at creating unique designs….the prices were expensive but the guests did not complain.
Our boss also had another business, a limousine service. The fleet of limos only had Silver Cloud Rolls Royces! Part of my job was to make flower deliveries. IF the boss gave me a large delivery AND ALSO had me deliver it by limo, then I knew that the flowers were going to a V.I.P. The limo driver, of course, wasn’t telling me where we were going. Usually we didn’t get to actually meet any celebrities. If the deliveries were made to a luxury hotel, then the flowers and I only made it as far as the Concierge. If the flowers were going to an individual’s personal home, usually a mansion or mini-mansion, then a maid or butler would take the flowers and I’d get a decent tip. I could drive up and down the streets of Kahala and Black Point and Aina Haina; also around Diamond Head and all the way up the ‘Gold Coast’ and point out the homes of every celebrity if I’d wanted to. But usually that didn’t excite me anymore because, with the exception of Cher, most of them were not especially what I would call NICE.
Usually my boss didn’t take me along with him to help set up for weddings and I didn’t particularly enjoy it anyway because of a nasty motorcyle-riding has-been celebrity, whom I won’t name, that made it not at all fun. Besides, I never did like those quickie Hawaiian weddings that folks do on the spur-of-the-moment because it’s not the way I was raised (to honor and sanctify marriage). Naturally, this was a huge money-maker for my boss tho! One of my favorite set-ups, however, was at Christmas. There were dozens of large banks and other office buildings that hired us to totally transform their lobbies into a Christmas wonderland, and it had to be done overnight so that their employees would come in the next day to see the ‘magic’ that had taken place. That was so much fun! My favorite was the 3-story Christmas tree that we erected totally out of red poinsettia plants. It was awesome. Lotsa folks don’t realize that most of the potted poinsettia plants that we buy at Christmastime on the mainland come from flower farms on the Big Island of Hawaii. My boss had a couple of plane-loads of plants for making these trees. The ingenuity and the work that went into making this happen was great to be a part of!
My best memory of my short stint working in the flower delivery business was the time when I had to deliver the biggest bouquet of daisies and roses that I’d ever seen. It’d seemed unusual that there weren’t any tropical flowers in the arrangement but this was an Anniversary bouquet for an older couple and supposedly was ‘their usual’ except that every year the bouquet would get larger. The bouquet was soooo big that my boss’ wife was assisting me in delivering it because I couldn’t handle it alone! So we got into 1 of the large Silver Clouds and the driver headed into Kahala. I asked where we were delivering and the boss’ wife and the driver just smiled. I knew then that it’d be yet another celebrity. We pulled into a circular driveway and started to the door with the bouquet. I wondered if it’d be a maid or a butler that answered, as usual. I was surprised when the door opened….I stood there speechless, mouthing words that wouldn’t come out! The older gentleman smiled that familiar-but-devious smile and said “Yes, I am Vincent Price. Do come in.” He laughed THAT laugh as we sat the lovely bouquet on the antique table in his round foyer. He was nicer than any of the other celebrities I’d met while in Hawaii, thus far, and he gave me a $50 tip!