I have the flu, I’m coughing and sneezing, chills, sweats, all the things that make the body feel achy and want to hide under the covers. So that is what I’ve been doing for the past 48 hours. Hiding under the covers, but I can not hide from the words swirling around wanting to be written down. Something triggered my memory about the times I’ve had an illness while working in the hospitality business. How I could be healthy one day and down and out under the covers the next day
I got chickenpox at the age of 23
During the winter, our hours at the lake were irregular. The occupancy at the hotel was lower after Thanksgiving, and then after the Holidays, it slowed down. It was a chance you took by staying in a seasonal town. The hotel was not unionized, but they played by the labor standards. Senior staff were given more shifts in banquets. The Edel and Stube staff were secured with at least two to three shifts a night and offered to work in other dining outlets if needed. I picked up a few shifts in the family-style dining room, The Poppy room. Then I took my chances and decided I would work the weekends in banquets and take a part-time job at the ski hill in the daycare. I didn’t think of taking advantage of the time to write. I was too worried about what Jacob was doing. If we worked together on the weekends, then I would be able to see him.
Marion Ann: How was I going to spend time with him if we weren’t working together?
Marion Ann: I can write anytime.
Sis: How about now.
I worked at the day care to get a free ski pass and secondly to spend more time with Jacob, who was an avid skier and seemed to at the ski hill with the guys from the Edle a lot. He was trying to make his way into the fine dining room. He was playing the game to get accepted into the big boy’s club. We all had to jump through hoops to get into the Edel. More so than others, but if we didn’t play the game, then we were stuck in the Vic dining room serving frisbee service to tours.
I wasn’t much of a down hill skier but I wanted to learn. My experience was playing on the bunny hill on Ski Wentworth and Martock in Nova Scotia. I did more cross country skiing at Old Orchard Inn in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. I preferred cross country skiing. I enjoyed taking my time along the plain of the orchards. Hearing the soft hiss of the skis gliding along the snow and the thump, thump, thump of my own heart. For me, cross country skiing was a way for me to work out story ideas, problems at school or home. I was in the moment when I was skiing by myself. If I was skiing with friends we skied until we hit our destination, chatted for a few minutes then turned back to head home. It was simple. Simple was good.
When I think of down hill skiing, I think of all the tumbles I would witness during the winter Olympics. Going fast and the potential of one slip could I would watch Jacob and my friends strap their skis on and go down the mountain with ease. I feared I would fall and hurt myself.
Sis: Not when all you do is snow blow.
Marion Ann: At least I didn’t break a leg.
Sis: Which would have been a story to tell.
Having a ski pass meant I could hang out at the ski hill, go up the gondola with friends and I could make my way down whenever I felt like it. Being on the “top of the world” at Ski Louise was an experience I’ll never forget.
I didn’t mind working at the daycare. They assigned most of the time I to work with the infants. Babies were easy to deal with. They slept a lot and had a regular feeding schedule that we would have to follow from the parents’ instructions. Taking care of the two through five-year-olds was another story. They were needy. I had to pay attention to them more than an infant. Toddlers wanted me to read to them, play toys with them, feed them, and hold them because they missed their parents. I knew I didn’t want children and working at the daycare only solidified the fact for me each time “Tommy” reached his arms up at me to pick him up and would cry when he didn’t get his way.
Marion Ann: No thank you.
I spent my lunch breaks at the daycare trying to sit with Jacob. When I caught up to him and the Edle crew I would listen to him and the guys about the great runs they just finished. They were eager to get back to the top of the mountain to get in a few more runs in before they headed back to work the dinner shift. I felt like I was in some romantic comedy movie.
Sis: Except it wasn’t a movie.
Marion Ann: Or romantic.
One afternoon at the daycare I felt very ill. My supervisor sent me home because I could get the kids sick. Most of them were tourists’ kids and they couldn’t get sick to travel.
Marion Ann: What about me?
Sis: Clearly, it’s all about the guest.
Marion Ann: Clearly.
I barely made it to the bus that shuttled guests and staff from the hotel to the ski hill and back. I threw up twice before I got on the bus and thought I would hurl again on the bus. It felt like it took hours for bus to get back to the hotel, but was only a fifteen-minute drive. I fell into bed with a fever. My body felt like it was on fire and itcy.
Uhh, you have the chicken pocks. My roommate pointed at my forearms and my neck was covered in red spots.
Didn’t you have them as a kid? My British roommate asked in a concerned tone.
No, I had the German Messel’s, but I couldn’t catch the chickenpox, my mother tried, she put me in the same room as my cousins who had them, but I didn’t get them.
Well, you sure have them now, you gotta go to the doctors, it’s dangerous to get them when you’re older.
Thank’s. My roommates were smart as whips sometimes.
I went to the doctors in the village who reminded me of the doctor from the TV show from Northern Exposure. He was not as cute as Joel Fleshmen, but a city guy in a very small town. The nurse looked at me and confirmed I had the chickenpox and to wait for the doctor. He would need to check the pox that was near my right eye. Near my eye?! For five minutes I was scared to hell what was going to happen if the pox got into my eye.
Marion Ann: What if?
Sis: Don’t even go there.
Marion Ann: But…
Sis: Not listening.
My overactive imagination sometimes took me down a darker path.
Marion Ann: Not now.
The doctor confirmed what I already knew to be true. I had the pox. He was concerned about the pox neat my right eye and told me to get myself in a dark room and don’t come out for at least three days. He said if I thought my vision was getting blurry to call him right away. He gave me his direct number.
Marion Ann: Excuse me?!
Marion Ann: This is serious.
In my shocked state, I asked how I could’ve gotten the pox. The doctor pointed out the obvious. I was working in a hotel and the ski hill where there were hundreds of transited people. It’s likely one of the kids at the daycare had it and since I never had them, lucky me I got them. He said it was serious at an older age and I needed to stay home for at least ten days. On top of staying home for two weeks, he said not go around anyone who didn’t have the chickenpox before. I went home and told my roommates who had them already. Except for one of my roommates. She had the pox before but her boyfriend’s brother never had them, which normally wouldn’t affect me, but her boyfriend happened to be visiting from England. They couldn’t stay in our room. They had to stay in the living room but decided to get a room at the hotel for a few nights before they went to Calgary for the majority of his visit.
I felt terrible. I was in quarantine and Jacob wasn’t sure if he had them or not.
Sis: How does he not know!
Marion Ann: He’s a serious ass.
Sis: Red Flag.
Jacob called his mother and she confirmed he didn’t so he had to stay away as well. I felt alone.
My roommates made sure I wore mittens to bed and I had enough calamine lotion on my body to help the itch and dry out the pox. It was one of the worse times I had at the Lake.
When I called the daycare to let them know I had the pox and wouldn’t be able to work for ten days. My supervisor told me that one of the transit tourists confirmed their two-year-old son had the chickenpox and probably infected the entire daycare.
Sis: Well that was nice of him.
Once I was cleared for work, I continued at the day care for another month then quit. I wasn’t risking any other illnesses from random children.
Sis: Too bad you didn’t listen to your own advice.
Marion Ann: I know. Fool me once.
Sis: Shame on you.
Marion Ann: Fool me twice.
Sis: Shame on you. Again.
Marion Ann: I really should have listened to myself.
When I moved to Jasper to work for another sister property, I picked up another part-time job at another daycare, but it was for families of Jasper. But they did take walk-ins and the one time we let in a walk-in for a week I ended up with hand-foot-mouth disease.
Marion Ann: What the f%#k?
Sis: What’s that about fooling you?
I didn’t even know I had hand-foot-mouth until I was in the contagious stage. I felt feverish and my left hand was a bit itchy and had spots on the palm. I went to the doctors and they suggested I take another week off from work and tell everyone I came in contact with to wipe everything down with disinfectant that I may have touched. I had already worked on the front desk and touch all the keyboards and phones and anything else at the front desk. When I called my boss, it was as if I said there was a bomb at the desk. Housekeeping used hot water and a small amount of bleach to sanitize everything, but it was too late. Only one person got the virus but she was hit hard. The worst-case scenario, swollen hands, and feet from the viruses. She couldn’t work for almost two weeks. I felt terrible. I swore off daycares right there and then.
Marion Ann: No more fooling me.
Sis: Well with work stuff. Love life, that’s another story.
Marion Ann: Shut up.
Thank you for being here with me today. You can start the beginning of this series here.
- Starting a New Chapter
- The Hotel Life Chose Me
- The Hotel Life – I am not Wishy-Washy
Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…