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The Innkeeper.

I had a job I loved once. Imagine that, right?!?! To be fair I’ve had a bunch of jobs that I’ve loved but this one was the most recent. I was an Innkeeper at a Bed & Breakfast in San Francisco. When I got the job, Cassidy agreed with me that it was kind of…sexy. In a weird way! Like sexy librarians. When you picture Innkeepers, you don’t picture sexy. You might picture a kindly old woman with lace, ruffled bedsheets and cat-painted china. You might even picture a lonely, cantankerous man in a raincoat – or is that more lighthouse keeper than Innkeeper? Either way, do you picture sexy? I didn’t. I was trying to bring sexy to Innkeeping.

…which really wasn’t the path to take. I wore high heels to my interview. Why? Because I’m freakin’ from NJ and that’s what you do in NJ! I think I even curled my hair and wore lipstick. I wanted to impress them. It also wasn’t the path to take. The two owners of the Inn were gay men. One of the general managers was blind. One of the owners even said to me after I got the job, “I’m really happy to see that you’re wearing sneakers to work here. I was scared when I saw the heels.” Like I said, coming from the NJ/NY professional world may have given me a skewed view of the rest of the world. San Francisco and Western Mass are about bringing your dogs to work, holding therapy circles as staff meetings, and above all – sneakers, sneakers, sneakers.

It was very fast-paced work: managing the phone, email and in-person reservations, the front door, the current guests, the leaving guests, the coming guests, the breakfast, the clean-up, the housekeeping schedule, the online database, the paper records, the computers, the stoves and their wretched pilot lights, the damn Wi-Fi, the snacks, the never-ending laundry, the parking spots, the magazines, the directions, the lists of local restaurants and sites, the dishwasher, the homeless people from Golden Gate Park walking the block or so to our Inn and pooping outside on the sidewalk, thus scaring the French high school students who were staying with us…

But it was glorious. It really was. It was real work. I felt needed. Every minute of those killer 12 hour shifts. I was working. I was young and energetic. I liked talking to out-of-towners about the city I was getting to know myself. I was dealing with people and these people were mainly happy because they were on vacation. And even if they weren’t – we did get a lot of guests visiting, getting tested at, or working at our local hospitals – they were still happy because they were at the best place on earth. A beautiful Victorian house filled with warm people, good food and everything you could need.

Once, when I told one of the owners that I wanted to be a writer but hadn’t been able to write even one meaningful word in years, he told me I could write a whole book based on the guests of this Inn. He was right. I still can. I think it would all be part of a larger book about the strange people and workplaces I’ve come across coast to coast. Trust me – I could fill a book or two. Ever put a workplace on a pedestal years after you’ve worked there? It’s hard for me not to because it was the last place I loved to work. And it was so magnificent. It was winning the job lottery. And it was also very difficult and exhausting and trying, dirty work.

I experienced my first earthquake in the Inn. I was standing in the office eating a piece of pie and watching my plate and fork clink against each other. I ran into the kitchen where guests from the Midwest were standing. Some of us were scared, others not. Above all, we had each other for comfort. I was never alone there.

Once, morning management messed up the housekeeping schedule and just in time I discovered that a room from the morning hadn’t been cleaned at all and the new guests were scheduled to arrive in an hour. I didn’t even know how to clean a room but I made it sparkle in that hour, after frantically calling co-workers for cleaning advice.

Once a family ground cereal so deeply into the carpet that I’m not sure that room ever recovered.

And the amount of people who smoked pot in the rooms! That smell does not come out easily, my friends.

Oh, I miss it so. I miss him – Steve, the General Manager. A truly spectacular person. And I miss David the housekeeper, Guy the dog and Dan the best guest ever. They are all no longer with us.

This Inn is no longer running except in the hearts of thousands. He’s no longer there, except in the hearts of thousands.

Thanks for giving me a chance, Steve. You’ll always be in my heart. Rest in peace, in paradise.

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