Thursday, March 14, 2013

Late to the party

Scintilla started yesterday. I spent yesterday afternoon seeing a mediocre movie with my kids and yesterday evening having an absolutely stellar drunkfest with my girlfriend. So it's all good. Because Scintilla doesn't judge, yo. When you roll in late with a hangover, Scintilla rolls its eyes, tosses you an Advil and lets you pull up a chair. Or so I'm choosing to believe, particularly since this beloved visage is one of its threefold faces (part of its threefold face? Gah. There's three faces, hers is one of 'em. Geez.)

So I'm late. And stuck.

Prompt A: Tell a story about a time you got drunk before you were legally old enough to do so.

Prompt B: Tell a story set at your first job.

I considered telling the story about when my friend Kim and I got drunk while babysitting my Mom's friend's son Clifton but it would appear that my other friend Kim has already written that post. Damn (I still love your face, Kim). 

My first job was cleaning rooms at The Hotel at the Bottom of the Hill. It had an orange roof, and its actual name was either The Tradewinds or possibly The Waters - it changed ownership and names at some point, but it was a two-minute drive or a ten-minute bike ride from my house down a hill where the grocery store and the pizza place and the lumber store were, and we called that whole area The Bottom of the Hill.

It was icky. Let's face it, spending your days cleaning up after other people is unpleasant (and look at my life now! Somehow when those people came out of you, it's, uh.... painful and degrading in a completely different way). It was kind of satisfying, too - you'd go in and everything would be a disaster and when you left it would be clean and well-ordered. And then you'd go back the next day and do it all over again. Sisyphus, thy name is chambermaid.

I was a pretty sheltered and naive 15 year old - enough that I was shocked and appalled by the businessman and his secretary coming in through the back door at lunch time, spending an hour or so in a room and then leaving, again through the back door. A few years later I was working at another hotel - at the front desk this time - and a man came in and asked if we had a reduced rate if he only needed the room for a couple of hours. I was kind of happy and relieved that my boss said no.

I've always loved staying in a hotel. When our kids were little and we went on vacations, I completely recognized that look of wonder and delight - it's inexplicably giddy-making, this little room that can belong to anyone on any given day.

The hotel that I stayed in wasn't especially nice, or in a big tourist destination. "Seedy" is a pretty apt description. One day we went to one room and one girl let us in. There were two men already in the room, and as we started cleaning, the other girl came out of the bathroom. There was a towel wrapped around her head, but otherwise she was completely naked. She went sashaying up to the two men who were sitting in chairs and I realized she was one of the strippers that worked in the hotel, but I was still completely gobsmacked, although I think I managed not to show it. Even though I knew she took her clothes off for a living, it still surprised me that she would be unconcerned parading nude in front of a room full of people, at least some of whom were complete strangers.

It wasn't a big revelation, or a pivotal moment or anything. I would probably still be shocked if this happened today, except now I would want to take her home and feed her or send her to university or something because, thinking back, a lot of those girls were really young. I still love staying in hotels, although my germophobe nature means I have to not-think about a lot of stuff while I'm doing it. And I'm always very, very considerate of the housekeeping staff.

6 comments:

Sasha said...

Eek. Your first job was much more interesting than mine: I worked as a check-out girl at the A&P. The most interesting story coming out of that was the woman in line who got snippy with me:
"Could you POSSIBLY go any SLOWER?". And that story would have been much more interesting if it had happened about 15 years later, when I would have had an answer for her.

Hm. This Scintilla thing sounds interesting though. Do you think you can take the prompts and then write the post next year? That's about my turn-around time.

Mary Lynn said...

I kind of think it's important to have some crappy jobs when we're younger so that we have empathy for people in those jobs later in life. My first job was serving fries in a chip truck, plus I've had a few retail jobs and worked the kitchen in a restaurant. Whenever I'm in a restaurant and things are slow I tend to blame the owners for not staffing well, rather than taking it out on the poor wait staff.

I remember a friend who worked as a waitress in high school telling us a story of how she accidentally spilled a glass of tomato juice all over a patron. She was absolutely horrified and expected to be yelled at. Instead, the guy was super nice and when he left he actually left a big tip. We figured he had to have worked as a waiter at some point in his life.

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I used to work as a janitor while in university. Of the many buildings assigned to me the worst was the bar. While I didn't have naked people wandering in front of me, I did get to experience the horror of cleaning up after drunk and stupid people. Ugh, I shudder.

I've never heard of Scintilla, but I adore their logo. I've been meaning to redo mine for ages which has been difficult since I've been so down in the dumps, but I feel a small touch of inspiration to start doodling. So there's that.

Nicole said...

I'm so excited to hear your stories. I just signed up for Scintilla - you inspired me! - but I don't know if I'll do daily stories. My first job was shelving books at a library. If you can believe it, Lyn (Happy Geek) and I worked there at the exact same time, although we don't seem to remember each other from that time.

StephLove said...

I agree with Mary Lynn that everyone should have at least one service sector job for that exact reason. I had a string of them in college, which gives me a soft spot for the college student baristas I encounter with some frequency. One of my jobs was at Baskin-Robbins and we were allowed to eat as much ice cream as we wanted. I soon found out why. After just a few weeks I didn't eat ice cream again for a year.

Rachel Cotterill said...

That's quite an exciting first job. Probably less fun outside of the anecdote-worthy moments, though... I certainly don't enjoy cleaning very much!