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A moment in time, forever with me.

A Waldorf Story by Meredith Clinton
2008

My mom took me to New York for the first time on my 16th birthday. It was my dream to move here as soon as I could, so this was the first major step toward that reality. In hindsight, I didn’t even realize how big of a deal it was that we stayed at a place as beautiful and storied place as the Waldorf Astoria.

That was 2000.

Fast forward to 2008, I’m two years out of college and just got laid off. With a bit of hair-salon-reception experience, the only job I could find was as a receptionist at The Kenneth Salon in the Waldorf Astoria. What. An. Experience. One that today I think back on fondly—and often. Kenneth was still there, cutting hair in his private salon. Lauren Bacall and her small dog visited him often.

I was part of an army of receptionists (that’s what it took to keep this iconic, luxurious, celebrity-patroned salon humming along smoothly). I sat in the back, windowless room answering phones and trying not to mess up as I scheduled, updated, and cancelled appointments accordingly. Each stylist, colorist, esthetician—and in some cases, client—had their own rules. It was stressful, but exciting. A woman named Belkis was my closest ally, helping me navigate the land mines. Only rarely, when one of the main receptionists was on break, did I get a turn at the front desk. One time, I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to help Meryl Streep check out. Screaming inside, I was perfectly calm and professional as I swiped her card and handed her a pen.

At the time I worked there, all I could think about was finding a job with benefits in the industry I’d been trying to choose after graduating with an English degree. One thing I’m glad I was smart enough to do each morning, as I walked through the doors of the Waldorf Astoria, was soak in the brilliance, elegance, and historical New York significance of my unmatched surroundings.

The Waldorf Astoria will always hold a special place in my heart—and my history.