Worst Shift Ever: White House Correspondents’ Edition

On the eve of Washington’s most celebrity-studded occasion, someone’s got to deal with the VIPs.

Steve Oshana at his current place of employ, Quench. Photograph by Dakota Fine.

They use us, then they lose us. This weekend, A- (also B-, C-, and D-) list celebrities will descend upon our fair city in droves for the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and related parties, then disappear as quickly as they arrived. Once the pretty people are gone, it’s our hardworking locals who will have to roll up the red carpets and repolish the ice buckets. Steve Oshana–who recently took on the role of beverage director at the forthcoming Quench in Rockville–won’t be clocking in this year to service the celebs. He says he had his fill of that last year, when he was in the employ of the Jefferson Hotel.

“I don’t own a television and so I don’t know who celebrities are,” he explains. “Managers had to come by and tell me who was who.” This fact handicapped him at the Jefferson–which, according to the beverage pro, has a very clear VIP policy when it comes to celebs: Drop everything for them. But that’s easier said then done when you have a full bar and the room service attendant has the night off.

Here, Oshana’s star-studded account* of his worst shift ever, which occurred on the eve of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 2011.

“It started just like a normal day. Around 4 or so, a big group of celebrities checked in at the same time. Our hotel ranged from either having more employees than we had guests or being comically understaffed. In this case, we were comically understaffed. Our room service attendant wasn’t there and we didn’t have an overnight cook, even though we offered 24-hour room service. ‘Cartoonish’ is the best way I can describe this place.

“By around 8 o’clock we have a full bar. David Arquette is there, sulking. I’m trying to talk to him because he seems really sad. And then I get a phone call from the front desk, and they’re like, ‘Omar Epps wants to talk to you about cigars.’ So I take a bunch of cigars up to Omar Epps and he opens the door, dripping wet, in a towel. And so I end up finding him the cigars he wants, and I go back downstairs. Somehow it’s become even busier than it was before. We’re just struggling. And in high-end hotels like that, they have these VIP programs. There are levels–there’s VIP levels one through four, and then there’s something called a ‘super VIP.’ And when you have a super VIP, you have to give them this really attentive service, and we’re short-staffed and we just can’t do it. We get to midnight, and I’m trying to close the bar, and no one will leave. They’re just standing around. David Arquette is still sulking at the bar. Then I get a phone call from the front desk, and they’re like, ‘Marlon Wayans wants room service, and the room service attendant is not here.’ I’m like, ‘What do you want me to do? I sent my staff home; there’s nobody here. Tell Marlon Wayans he has to order pizza.’ As I’m on the phone with the front desk, Simon Helberg walks in and is like, ‘Can we get some ice in the library over there? We got this bottle, and we want to drink it.’ I tell him to hold on just a second, and he goes, ‘Come on, man, we got girls.’ And room service calls back and says, ‘Can you take this up to Marlon Wayans?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes! I’ll take it to Marlon Wayans.’

“So I take the ice to Simon Helberg and his friends, and I go upstairs to bring room service to Marlon Wayans. I get up there, and I realize I’d forgotten ice for him. So I go back to get more ice, and David Arquette is still sulking there! Everyone else is gone, David Arquette is still there. Simon Helberg comes back for more ice, and I’m like, ‘Listen, dude, the bar is closed. I can’t do this right now.’

“I go. I get them more ice. I take Marlon Wayans his ice. I come back, and David Arquette is finally gone. And I’m just furious at this point. And Jeremy Piven walks in and is like, ‘Hey, man, how do you get to 15th and I street?’ And I accidentally give Jeremy Piven the wrong directions. I send him the opposite direction.

“I’m fuming with anger, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson walks in with his boyfriend, and they’re like, ‘Oh, is the bar closed?’ I say, ‘Yes! The bar is closed.’ And he’s like, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I just unload on Jesse Tyler Ferguson. I tell him everything. And at the end I’m like, ‘And I think I gave Jeremy Piven the wrong directions. So there.’ He comes up to me and gives me a hug. And his boyfriend gives me a hug. And he’s like, ‘It’s okay, everything is fine.’ So I say, ‘I’ll serve you guys a drink, you’ve been really cool.’ And that is pretty much the end of the night.”

*This tale of woe was told to use directly by Oshana, and has not been verified with any of the super VIPs who appear within it.