Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Innkeeper's Assistant

Emily Dickinson Pictures, Images and Photos
In the spring of my senior year of college, my work study money was running out. I had spent the last two years working in a library and loving every minute of it. It was just me and the books. If I were to enter into plural marriage, it would be with a huge stack of books. I was sad when the money ran out and couldn't work anymore in those quiet corners shelving all the Grisham and Steel books that people love to read so much. I would love to blog about my time there, but it will have to keep for another day. This post will be about the job that came after my dream job.

I found an ad on campus advertising a position at a local Bed and Breakfast. It seemed like one step above the Subway I worked at my first two years of college. I've written about that experience before and I wasn't itching to get back to bread with pubes and cheese with eyelashes. I decided to take a chance and called the number on the flyer.

It turned out that the job entailed me alternating work at two inns that this very eccentric couple owned. They were on the same street, about 1/2 a mile apart and my home was only a 1/2 mile away from that. My college experience was all about riding the bus and walking so I was excited about commuting easily on my feet. Both inns were stunning and very old. One of them was across the street from Emily Dickinson's house! She was my ghost bosom buddy so I felt happy knowing that I could look out the window from my job and see her anytime I liked.

I called myself an innkeeper's assistant, but really I was just a maid. I served breakfast, washed dishes, cleaned rooms/beds, and did laundry. I would work at one inn and then sprint down the hill to work at another. My first day of work, I got to cook two dozen eggs in a massive wok and I was thrilled. I actually really enjoyed this job. I enjoy solitary monotonous work. Most people would loathe doing the same mundane tasks over and over, but I liked it because I could work and still be lost in my head. No matter how old I get, I love to lose myself in thought. This job was perfect for that.

As much as I loved the job, it came with its own perils. I learned very early, that one boss would take my tips if I weren't quick enough to get them. I made myself have bat ears and listen for the person handing their keys back and then fly to their room to scoop up my tip and then fly back to where I was working. People left very generous tips and since I was making only $8 an hour, 4 hours a day, I could really use those tips. I'm sure the owner must have been dismayed that I was taking my own tips, but she never mentioned it to me directly. I was the hardest worker they had ever had and since I was willing to work at both their businesses, they did not want to lose me.

The other peril of the job had to do with bodily fluids. If you are in any way squeamish, I would suggest skipping the next paragraph or two... Obviously, people don't just sleep in their rooms, they enjoy adult time and bathroom time. Most of my experience comes from bathroom time. People will smear the grossest things on walls, tubs, and toilets. I guess if you are paying that much, it's OK to be freak nasty with your menstrual blood. My bosses would always apologize if they happened to notice a particularly scary situation in a bathroom that I was cleaning. I would just breathe through my mouth, open a window for some fresh, crisp Massachusetts air, and think of England. If bedding or mattresses were soiled, I was always told that the owner's would take care of that. I recall one incident of my boss scrubbing a stain from a very old quilt while muttering the foulest words I had ever heard. I loved it and will treasure that moment always.

I think my bosses thought of me as young and naive and wanted to shield me from things. It was strange, I was 21 and almost a college graduate. I actually was very interested in all the bawdy things that can happen at a Bed and Breakfast. There was one time that a pair of randy dudes and possibly some other friends stayed a night. When I got to work, I was told that I was forbidden from cleaning their room. They had had some sort of orgy involving a lot of massage oils and I was not to see the aftermath of it. The owners locked the door and got to work. I was dismayed, I wanted to see the sex den. I had seen the two young men leaving and they didn't seem that wild. Certainly not wild enough to knock lamps around and pull mattresses down and soak most surfaces with pungent fluids. I suppose I should be thankful that my innocence was preserved and that I was not responsible for cleaning the destruction of an orgy, but my curiosity for that room has never left my head.

I worked hard every morning through that spring and into summer. I missed my own graduation because I preferred tips to standing in a giant stadium with my 6,000 classmates. When wedding parties came to visit, I often got $20 and $50 bills left on dressers for me. I would wake up early and skip to work. I really liked being a maid. It was just me, filthy rooms, and Emily. Life can surprise you and hand you bliss where you least expect it.


A.Marie said...

Well...that job sounds more exciting than mine, when I was in college! I worked in a hospital kitchen; fun times..yep...fun times! :)

Frances said...

Delightful description of what most would consider a mundane job.

I bartended to put myself through college. I have seen some of those bodily fluids. LOL!

Frances said...

I have something for you on my blog.

Kelly's Ideas said...

Great post


Joops said...

Wow, I admire your perseverance and hardwork! Kodus to you!

By the way, I am trying to generate some support for our daughter. I entered her into a Smile Contest, so if you could please vote for her (just once), the contest runs until October 31st. Your vote would be so much appreciated.

To cast your vote, please go to this link. Please look for Jillian Rylie Cottrill.

Thank you very much for your help!