Cecil Exum has worked at the Marriott for 60 years and has never taken a sick day off in all that time. The average time a person stays at one job is four years, and those who work with food stay about two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Employment at Marriott

The 79-year-old buffet chef who turns 80 next month is Marriott's longest-working Employee. He started working there when he was 19 even before the convention hotel was called Marriott. When he took the job, it was called Hot Shoppes, a root beer stand run by the Marriott family.

His job was to bus tables, serve sodas, and make banana splits. He made 75 cents an hour, and his take-home pay was $30 a week.

It hasn't been revealed how much Exum makes at the hotel today. According to human resource records, someone in Exum's position makes $16 to $18 an hour. It is interesting that Bill Marriott, the owner's son, started working the same year as Exum. Bill retiired last year at 85. At the time, his annual salary was $3.66 million.

About Cecil Exum

Cecil Exum lives alone in Waldorf, Maryland. He gets up every day at 3:30 a.m. and leaves home at 4:15 a.m. to drive to his job at Marriott Crystal Gateway in Arlington, Virginia. He starts cooking breakfast at 5 a.m. On an average day, he makes about 130 omelets by mid-morning.

Exum attends two church services every Sunday at 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Then he returns home and cooks breakfast for himself which doesn't consist of omelets. He cooks Hungry Jack pancakes, grits, and Jimmy Dean turkey sausage patties because he doesn't eat pork. He is in good health because he takes care of himself by not drinking or smoking.

During the summer, he often goes fishing with his 73-year-old sister, Clara. He loves his family. This is evident because he takes a week off in July every year to drives to his family reunion. He takes two weeks off every December and another two weeks off in January to spend the holidays with his family.

No retirement in sight

Exum is glad Marriott isn't forcing him to retire because he enjoys his job. He has become a legend at the hotel. Customers often talk about his omelets. One woman says she has been eating there for at least 10 years, and she always orders omelets. She describes Exum's omelets as perfect. Another customer called him an omelet artist. It is amazing that Exum says he is not an omelet eater himself.

Exum says he loves where he works because it has benefits, such as a retirement plan, a profit-sharing program, and all the vacation time he wants. Today, the buffet chef has an employee's cafeteria named after him called Cecil's Lounge.