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Adventure Funny Happy

The Shrimp Incident of ‘92

It was the spring of 1992 in my third year of Hotel and Restaurant Management school when two other students and I were chosen for a weekend internship at a fancy resort on Lake Powell. Lake Powell is the largest lake in Arizona and is most famous for its Rainbow Bridge. There was no way that I could have known that this would forever change my life.

After they had bought us breakfast and introduced us to the various department managers, we started our internship work. It was mostly shadowing the managers to see what a typical day looked like.  From Housekeeping, Front Desk, Banquets, and the Kitchen, we got a chance to see it all. 

Later that night, they invited us to dinner in the fine dining room of the resort. You can imagine how great the food looked and smelled after eating dorm food for so long. Wanting to make the most of my menu options, I decided on the Shrimp Scampi.  I mean, how often can a starving student afford such a meal?

 It had been a while since I had had shrimp, and growing up as a kid on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, there was certainly no reason to be worried. 

After only a few bites of shrimp, my nose started running.  This was an unexpected nuisance as no one wanted to see that at the dinner table. A few minutes later, I started getting warm, so I took off my sweater to cool off a little bit.  I asked the other guys if they were getting warm, and they said they were feeling just fine.  One of them had also chosen the Shrimp Scampi.   I could feel my face getting hot like I had a sunburn.   I excused myself from the table and went outside to hopefully cool off. 

This was Easter weekend, and it was chilly up on the lake. Probably about 40 degrees. I took of my shirt and was down to just a t-shirt at this point.  The cold air relieved some of the discomfort but the itching was still there and getting worse. I told my friends that I was going back to my room to see what the matter was. 

With better lighting and my shirt removed, my chest was red and splotchy, with hives of all sizes over my chest. Some were about the size of a quarter. Something was certainly wrong, and I needed answers. Of course, you always call your mom in these situations to see what to do next. 

As fate would have it, only my dad was home. I told him what was going on.  “Ahh, son, just put some calamine lotion on it, and you will be just fine.”    Little did he know he might have just killed me.  Not satisfied with that course of action, I went back to the front desk and talked to the Manager.  They called the park service paramedic, and the next thing I knew, I was in the back office, laying down on a gurney with wires and needles in my arms.  Despite the wool blanket on me, I was still shivering like a leaf in the wind. “Hey doc, I am not cold, so what’s with the shaking?”  The paramedic explained that it was the epinephrine that he had given me and asked if I was allergic to shellfish.  How the hell would I know, I had been eating that most of my young life. 

They wheeled me into the Park Service ambulance and rushed me off to Page hospital with lights and sirens wailing. Being the practical student that I was, the only thing I could think of was how was how in the heck was I going to pay for this?  I had no money and no insurance. 

My classmates followed the ambulance to the ER and waited to hear about my condition.  The nurse put some more needles in me and took my temperature every ten minutes. I still had no idea how I was going to pay for this. After four hours of observation and my hives disappearing, they said I was safe to go home now.  To this day, I still have no idea of how or if that bill got paid. 

After arriving back at the resort, I went up to the front desk to let the manager know how I was doing. I was telling my story to the manager and her staff in the back office. The manager happened to be the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was tall with long red hair, had a beautiful smile, was about in her 40s, and dressed very well. I was never good around pretty women and was still a little fidgety because of the meds. 

The next thing I know, I am waking up on the ground where I had fainted right at her feet.  On my way down, I had knocked my head on a huge file cabinet.  As I came to 30 seconds later, she was kneeling over me, holding my head in her hands, and asking if I was okay.   I stared into her eyes and with a goofy smile on my face, whispered, “Wow”.  She smiled and blushed and told the group I was going to be just fine. 

The next morning, I was able to call my folks down in Phoenix, and this time my mom answered the phone.  I relayed the story to her and left out the pretty woman part. There is no record of what she told my dad after we got off the phone, but I am sure it wasn’t good.  

Even now, 30 years later, and after a full allergy panel test, my doctor thinks that I should carry an epi-pen with me or at least have one somewhere handy.  They are expensive and only last one year. There is no way I can afford to keep that up. Plus, the 911 response in Phoenix is pretty good. I figure I have about 6 minutes of lead time before I really need to start worrying about it. 

September 02, 2022 16:11

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2 comments

Ashley Comstock
18:48 Sep 13, 2022

This story reads like a friend recounting an experience at the bar. It's very nostalgic and familiar. I wish there was a little more dialogue or even a bit more of a description of fading out when the character passed out instead of the blunt transition. I want to point out one little typo about five paragraphs in - " I took of my shirt" - you'll just want to add another f to make it off :)

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Unknown User
04:46 Sep 12, 2022

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