Wednesday, December 28, 2016


#2 Bryan

By the time I fired Margie, my occupancy rate was up to 55 percent and I needed help badly. I
limped along without anyone for a while. Occasionally, one of the other innkeepers would lend me their housekeeper for a few hours at a time, but I really needed someone on a regular basis. I sent out e-mails to everyone I knew in search of more help, and finally, after three weeks or so, a friend of mine who lived not far from me called and said she knew someone who was looking for work.

When the doorbell rang, I rushed to open it. A slender young African American man stood on the stoop.
“Hi, I’m Bryan,” he said. “Jean Huxley sent me over. She said you might need some help.”
“I sure do. Come on in, Bryan. I’m Nancy.” I led him into the parlor.
We sat across from each other, him on the settee in front of the windows and me on the blue wing-back chair. He was meticulously dressed in pressed blue jeans and a checked cotton shirt. His hair was clipped very short, and his smiling face was a shiny mahogany punctuated with deep
 dimples. He smiled and relaxed back into his chair. This time, I decided, I would do an interview and ask for references.
“Have you ever worked in a hotel or bed and breakfast before?” I asked.
“I’ve worked at the Hilton and downtown at the Sealbach Hotel . . . mostly large banquets, waiting tables,” he said.
“What about housekeeping?”
“No, but I like to clean. It’s therapeutic.”

Bryan, it turned out, was a gay ex-ballet dancer. He was also articulate, personable, and friendly. He didn’t cook, but he was very helpful with the guests, especially the ones who were “high maintenance,” and he could really clean—in fact, he was slightly obsessive compulsive, and would spend hours cleaning the toilets and polishing up the handles on everything. He loved doing it, and when he was done the bathrooms glistened.

Thank God Bryan was there the day Madam Capriani, the opera diva checked in.He had been working for me for a while by this time, and he knew the ropes and could handle demanding and eccentric guests.  Besides, he was pretty eccentric himself. She was a little too much drama for me. Every negative thing I knew or had ever heard about artistic personalities and divas applied to her case. First of all, she was almost totally helpless. She would call down to the kitchen and interrupt whatever Bryan was doing. It was always an emergency. By the time she left, he was as happy to see her go as I was.

The longer I was in business, the more I came to depend on Bryan whenever there was a guest who was a little difficult to handle. He was with me for six years. During that time we became good friends, I met his family and attended many of his dance performances. He was one of my best housekeepers.

 #1 Margie

I found my first assistant on the streets of “Old Louisville.” She was loading up her car in front of one of the beautiful old Victorian houses a couple streets over from me. I almost drove right past, but when I noticed her cleaning supplies, I slammed on the brakes just in time to catch her before she drove away.

Margie was a tall, healthy-looking redhead with freckles all over her face. Her curly hair was pulled back and fastened at the nape of her neck with a barrette. She was wearing cargo pants, a T-shirt, and a dark blue work apron with pockets all across the front. She was friendly and agile. I thought she would make a great assistant in a bed and breakfast, so I interviewed her right there on the street and asked her to come for a trial run the next day.

Margie was exceptional at house cleaning, and she even brought her own cleaning supplies, including rags, with her. She knew all about the best cleaning products, how to get spots out of anything, and how to iron. When she showed up at the inn the next day I hired her right on the spot, without further interview or references, although she offered to bring them. And that first year and a half was perfect. For the first time since I’d been in business, I was able to take a few weekends off while Margie inn-sat.

One weekend, I went to Chicago to visit my oldest daughter for three days. A day or two after I returned, I was doing a routine review of my checking account when I noticed I was five hundred dollars short. I went through my checkbook and saw that the very last check was missing. I called my bank and was told that the check had been cashed at a Kroger grocery store near me. They sent me a copy, and I saw that Margie had forged my signature. The bank took responsibility and put the five hundred dollars back into my account immediately. Kroger confronted Margie, and she admitted she’d forged the check. Both Kroger and my bank prosecuted her.

Of course, I fired Margie. After a little investigating and a few conversations with her mother, I found out she had been on crack cocaine for months. She had stolen food and other items from two other innkeepers. Eventually, she ended up in jail. It was such a shame; she was a nice girl who, it seems, simply got mixed up with the wrong people. And, even worse, she had two little children.

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