On The Road Again…

It’s not what you think. We are not moving but I am moving on in the hotel life. I have given my resignation as the General Manager of the beautiful hotel I work for because I accepted a position at another hotel as their Director of Human Resources. It feels good to share this news. I am nervous and excited for the new adventure. How I stumbled upon this wonderful opportunity has to do with intention of my true self asking for what she wants and needs to maintain her creative life.

What you resist, persists

It’s been a trying year for all of us. We have been tested with the novel Covid-19 virus and maybe some of you have learned a little more about yourselves than expected. I have know a few things about myself that I need to deal with and the things that I have been resisting have persisted and showing up saying, “Hey, pay attention and deal with it!”

I was provided with a wonderful opportunity to be the General Manager of a beautiful hotel in Fredericton, New Brunswick. I have been in the hotel world for over twenty-five years, being of service is in my blood, but to my own fault, it can take over your life and in a blink of an eye. A year goes by and your true self is waiting to have her turn to speak up. She has been waiting patiently and I love her for her kindness while I have been struggling with the ego slipping in and out over the past year.

“I am grateful for this amazing opportunity that is being provided to maintain this beautiful creative life.” ~ This is my mantra I write over and over in my gratitude journal, morning pages and on top of mind, always. I am truly grateful for every opportunity that has been provided. Every experience has brought me to this very moment, here and now.

I have shared many times in my morning pages, with friends and family that I didn’t want any more responsibility in the hotel life, but I tend to take on more to help the hotel, the employees and my colleagues. My experiences have provided me to be offered positions that have provided life lessons and sometimes I have to go through the same experience to learn that life lesson to really learn it.

So, now, I have learned twice that I am not cut out to be a General Manager of a hotel, but then on the flip side, never say never. However, in this season of my life I have come to terms that I don’t want the level of responsibility that comes with being a General Manager of a hotel. My over-all well being depends on the quality of my habits. Being a GM is not easy task. I have excellent soft skills and that has helped me grow my human resources experiences. I have always been that person people come to and tell me their story. I enjoy sharing life experiences that may help someone in a similar situation to simply say, ‘you’re not alone’. The same things apply in the hotel world. Everyone starts somewhere and no one is alone in their experiences.

It wasn’t easy to tell my boss that I was leaving. I put my heart and soul into the hotel for the past year and half. I put the hotel, employees and owners a head of my own happiness. I didn’t see the repercussions of my choices until around December 2020. I wasn’t writing as much as I needed to be. I was not fully invested in either my creative life or the farm life. I was on auto pilot trying to live two separate lives, but it wasn’t working. It didn’t matter how many podcasts I listened to about leadership, setting boundaries, striving for the work-life balance that I use to preach about. I tried to reread writing reference books to get me back on track, but I was not fully invested. I was always worried and thinking about how the phone would ring on a Sunday afternoon from the hotel. I was not living my best life, how could I lead a team when I was in the ‘fake it till you make it’ mind frame for over a year. How could I be living my best life when I wasn’t happy with my choices. I simply asked the universe for some help, I remembered Julia Cameron’s commitment to creativity,

“Okay creative force, you take care of the quality, and I’ll take care of the quantity.”

I have asked creativity, once again, to help me so I am able to write the ideas that creativity is providing me. I asked, I stood back and now I am receiving with open arms the help and support that is being provided. Thank you.

I have a week off between jobs and I know I may be called by the hotel for assistance from time to time, but I am turning off my phone when I am writing because creativity deserves my time. I deserve time with creativity. I have to start practicing the quality of my habits that reflect the quality of my life. Honor myself to honor others.

Have you have a recent life change, a shift in your life plans? I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

The Hotel Life ~ This Too Shall Pass

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?

Sis: Geezus.

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.

Sis: Exactly.

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.

Sis: Sometimes?

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?!

Sis: Shit.

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.

  1. Starting a New Chapter
  2. The Hotel Life Chose Me
  3. The Hotel Life – I am not Wishy-Washy

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

The Hotel Life ~ I am not Wishy-Washy

I am continuing to trick my brain to work on my next memoir. I find it easier to write and let the words flow here. Thank you for being here with me.

Hotel Life has Chosen Me

My hotel life was not all rainbows and roses. It was far from it.

Sis: You can say that again.

Does everyone remember Sis?

Sis: I’m the sassy ego.

Marion Ann: Something like that.

Sis is my sassy alter ego. She says what I can’t or won’t say. I’m afraid of someone may not like me.

Sis: As if you care.

Marion Ann: That’s true. Other people’s option about me is none of my business.

Sis: Yup!

I had to learn that what other people thought of me what not my business. Maybe a few years ago I started to not care what people thought of me because I was wasting a lot of time people-pleasing. It’s exhausting trying to appease other people’s bullpucky (I’m trying not the swear as much, but sometimes you just have to say what needs to be said). I’ve been in the hospitality business for over 25 years and I’ve seen and listened to many people-pleasing scenarios. For example, a wife and husband visiting Lake Louise because he likes to ski, and she is resentful because she came on the trip to please her husband. But when they sat down in my section one morning, I could tell she was mad at herself for not using her voice about the ski trip she was not enjoying. I only know this was the situation because she told me when her husband went to the buffet before their six-hour day at the ski hill. I’m paraphrasing here, but this is what the wife implied and when I hear people complain I tune out and they sound like the school teacher from Charlie Brown. “wah-wah”

 

“I wanted to go to Cuba and lay on the beach and do nothing. Now I’m here, it’s cold and I’m skinning, I’m not on a beach doing nothing. I just wanted to make him happy.”

Sis: Yikes!

I nodded and said I implied I was sorry? She said thanks, but next year they are going to Cuba and she’ll put her foot down when they make their year vacation plans.

Sis: Okay.

Marion Ann: People like to complain to me.

Sis: Could make a career out of that.

Marion Ann: Great (As I roll my eyes)

After years of listening to people complain about their life choices, I can’t believe how long it took me to realize that I was doing the same thing and from such an early age.

When I was younger, I wanted to make sure people liked me. What did that look like? Me running around doing things that I thought people wanted. Like making sure I had the right brand of jeans or latest New Kids on the Block album (that came to mind as I was listening to the 80’s channel and Joey-Joe was singing “please don’t go girl…

If I kept up with the trends, then people would like me who never even knew I existed. I was a grain of salt compared to the lavish lifestyle they were trying to live. They had their own issues to deal with. I didn’t understand that being myself should be enough.

Sis: I thought we were talking about hotel life.

Marion Ann: I’m getting there.

One of my food and beverage supervisors called me wishy-washy, and that’s why I wouldn’t be promoted as a trainer for the banquet department. He thought I couldn’t make a decision. I wasn’t sure how he came to this conclusion. Maybe, and I don’t want to assume, but here I go… maybe it was because I didn’t play into his Australian charm that other women seemed to swoon over. I didn’t accept any of his drinks at the bar and I may have given him the stink eye once or twice when we would watch him try to pick up other women in the staff pub.

Sis: It was fun to watch him get turned down.

My ego ran ramped with how I was a good server. I ran my sections smoothly. I never showed up late. I was ten to fifteen minutes early for my shifts to make sure I prepared my section for a good service. I was engaging with my guests and this supervisor thought I was wishy-washy!

Sis: He was an as….

Marion Ann: Let’s keep it clean for once.

Sis: Well he was.

Marion Ann: I showed him.

Sis: Sure did.

When this supervisor labelled me as wishy-washy, I heard I wasn’t good enough and for a moment I believed them.

Sis: Then I said something.

Marion Ann: Thank you.

I told myself I would prove to this supervisor I was as good as the rest of the training team being put together. I didn’t know that my peers were rooting for me and I am very grateful for them stepping up for me. I became a better server and a trainer because of my colleagues. We supported one another. We covered up for one another. We were a family and my longing to have brothers and sisters had come true. The best thing about this family, they didn’t care what I did as long as I had their backs when needed. I didn’t need to have a pair of the latest Esprit jeans to prove that I was worthy to be on their team.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

If you liked, Kitchen Confidential and the Grand Budapest Hotel, you will enjoy this eye-opening life experience of one employee’s journey of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

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The Hotel Life Chose Me

I am continuing to trick my brain to work on my next memoir. I am finding it easier to write and let the words flow here. Some of this won’t be in the book, but there are some ideas here that have helped me with writing the next memoir. Thank you for being here with me.

The Hotel Life Chose Me

The hotel life has chosen me. I wasn’t surprised when I continued my journey in the hospitality field after my first summer at the luxury hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, in Alberta. A series of events brought me to a place where I asked for help and within a few days, I happily accepted help from my cousin to help me get a job at the Lake (I call the Chateau Lake Louise, the Lake in my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers). I made a choice to leave Halifax, Nova Scotia, for five months. I was hired to work until the end of August. My second year of university was waiting for me, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back home. My new home at the Lake was more interesting. I didn’t have the typical troubles with my mother. Like many teenage daughter and mother relationships, we didn’t see eye-to-eye. I was an only child who didn’t agree with anything my mother said.

Sis: Or anyone else.

Marion Ann: That’s true.

This is Sis, my sassy pseudo alter ego/guardian angel.

Sis: Hey there.

Sis lives within me. We are one. She says what I want to say, but don’t dare to. I didn’t want to be judged. Sis doesn’t care what people think of her.

Sis: That’s the truth. We don’t have time to waste on what other people think.

Sis has been here all along. She has seen everything. She knows everything. I can’t hide from her. Therefore, I can’t hide from myself.

Sis: Sure can’t.

When I returned to the Lake for the third summer, I knew that I wouldn’t be rushing back to Nova Scotia. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I told my boyfriend at the time that I would be back. I wanted to be with him, but when he mentioned he wanted to move in together after he finished Nursing School and start a family, well I was out the door even before he could finish his sentence.

Sis: Sure were.

Marion Ann: I couldn’t run fast enough.

What I wanted to do was save up enough money to return to Halifax within a year, move into a heritage home and write books. I would get a serving position at one of the popular restaurants downtown to pay the rent and the basics but I had a plan that my writing would one day be my full-time profession. Except I had this little nagging voice that came from not only my family but friends and other creative people.

You need a job that will pay the bills. Writing won’t get you very far.

I’m paraphrasing, but this was the underlying concept. They didn’t know that creativity would take care of me. They didn’t see that I could write a blockbuster movie and live off the money that someone would pay me for my writing. It’s not a difficult concept, but it looks scary because it’s not the cookie-cutter way of life that my family and society were used to. They were in the box of:

Get up and go to work come home to have dinner, watch TV go to bed and do it all over again the next day. (This is what I remember being portrayed as in TV and Movies in the ’80s and ’90s)

Sis: Hell No!

Marion Ann: I did not sign up for this.

Sis: Hell No!

Writing was my way of leaving this Monday-Friday. 9 to 5 mentality. When I was writing, I was in my own world where I could do anything I wanted and be happy with my choices. With this intention, the universe provided me with exactly what I needed to break the cycle of people wondering what I would do with my life after university. Would I get a steady job in a government office or become a secretary where I wouldn’t be without work because it seemed to be that secretaries were in demand.

Sis: Rolling my eyes.

Marion Ann: Shaking my head and rolling my eyes.

Sorry, I got off track there. Thank you for reading through the rant.

I was sharing how I was a terrible girlfriend for telling my boyfriend at the time that I would be back in the Fall and then we would begin our lives. He said I could write anywhere, and that was true. So I wrote in Alberta. I would stay at the Lake, work my shifts, and write every free moment. That was my intention. When I returned to the Lake of May 96’ I was writing every day. I played the shy card. The label of ‘shy little girl’ was placed on me at such an early age that sometimes I still believe it. Instead of going out with my roommates, I would stay in my room and write. My roommates went to the staff pub and had fun getting to know one another. I had done the staff pub thing for the first two summers. I drank too much, and I knew how hard it was to drink until 2 am and try to get to work for 5:30 am to set up the breakfast buffet. I knew I needed to be disciplined with my writing and if that meant staying in and not being social then so be it.

Sis: But we lived on top of a mountain.

Marion Ann: So much to explore.

Sis: No one was around to judge.

Marion Ann: One night off from writing won’t hurt.

Sis: Shouldn’t.

My writing suffered from my choices when I was at the Lake, but if I hadn’t had those experiences, I wouldn’t have the stories to share. When I heard, write what you know, that was what was happening. I was learning about hotel life. I was learning who I was, and that is what I would write about. Coming of age mixed with hospitality. I grew in my hotel career and as a person. I am still learning. I am still growing.

Thank you for being here with me. I’m working through this next memoir here and it feels good.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, please click Here.

Starting A New Chapter January 2020

One of my writing intentions was giving my writing the attention it deserves. Time management is key to this goal. It requires time for this goal and if I take twenty minutes to sit down and focus I am following through. I am honoring my passions.

I will share some draft material from my next memoir. Procrastination has latched on to me, yet when I am sitting here working on my blog, I can get the words down. So why not trick procrastination and get some writing done! I’m experimenting with my prologue at the moment and this memoir will be a little darker than my first memoir about working in a luxury hotel in Lake Louise. My debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, was a glimpse of my experiences while working at the Chateau Lake Louise during the summer, where everything on the outside seems to be perfect, but I share how it is far from perfect.

The next memoir still doesn’t have a title that I am excited about, so I will keep the theme and continue with, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Winters. This memoir is about my experiences working for the same luxury hotel only in the winter. Then I move from this hotel to another hotel within the same hotel chain. A different hotel, but the same drama and heartache of this creative being’s journey of self-discovery. Thank you for being here with me. Here we go…

Hotels Keep Your Secrets

Hotels keep secrets. The secrets left behind in a hotel are more than you may believe.

After 25 years in the hospitality business and more important as a front-line employee at the start of my hotel life, I have been privy to situations that I’m sure guests would hope no one would remember. I have heard conversations between guests that I am sure guests would deny. Or not care to reminisce. I know this to be true because I’ve heard the words. I was serving in the luxury hotel’s fine dining room, The Edelweiss, during my first winter at the Lake. I enjoyed the slower pace of knowing my guests vs proving Frisbee service to tour groups. Get’em in, get’em out type of dinner service. In the fine dining room, I had to know about wine pairing and scotch. I couldn’t offer house wine because why sell a six-dollar glass of wine when you can sell an eight dollar glass? The higher the bill, the higher the tip. Servers, and I was no different, thought about money and how much we could make each night.

The new couple that sat down in my section looked like they had been together for a few years. She was tall, shoulder-length, wavy, dirty blonde hair. She walked with confidence. He was slightly taller, short black hair with a hint of superman wavy style hair. He had his arm around her waist as they walked. I smiled as they were seated at the table of two by the window overlooking Lake Louise. I introduced myself and offered pre-dinner drinks; he ordered a bottle of Louis Latour Chardonnay. He said it was close to their wedding anniversary, and it was his wife’s favourite. She smiled and told me it reminded her of their vacation last year to France. People tell me their stories. People trust me. I listen and smile. I engage in conversation at the right times. I was trained, and I paid attention to the training.

As I walked away to put the order in, I heard, I love you… come from the gentleman. There was some type of acknowledgment from his wife, but there was silence. I checked on the two other tables in section to see if they needed anything and picked up the bottle of wine. As I approached the table, I heard something that I should have walked a little slower to the table.

You’re a liar. The woman gruffly whispers she has seen the phone number on the cell phone bill (this was the mid-90s and bills were still being mailed to our homes). The woman called the number, and a woman answered. It could mean only one thing. The man is silent and speaks from the side of his mouth, we’ll talk about this later…

I walk up to the table and present the bottle of wine first to the woman and then to the man. They hardly look at the bottle. I don’t want to even talk to them but I had a job to do and all I could do was open the wine. I ask with caution.

Who would like to taste the wine? As I open the bottle, a staged task I’ve also been trained to perform night after night. A five-minute procedure that connects me to my guests. It’s where I learn a little more about them and use it my advantage as I see fit.

The woman points to her glass and forces a brief smile. I go through the motion of pouring a small amount for her to taste. I was for her to smell the wine, swirl it around, smell it again then takes a sip to swish around to make sure it’s a good wine. I try not to look at her or the man, but I glance at them both, quickly. The man is staring at the blank space on the table where I would place his entrée choice if they made it that far.

It’s good. Thank you. She points to her glass and I pour the standard few ounces to make sure the wine stays chilled.

More, please. She whispers and I pour as she requested. They’re the one paying for the meal, I’m not one to say otherwise. I pour the man the same amount and he asks for a double Johnny Walker Black on ice. She huffs and almost gulps back the wine. I pour her another glass and ask if they need more time with the menus. They look at me and nod in agreement.

The rest of the meal is in silence. It is chilling to go up to the table during my quality checks. They both are polite. The praise the food and when I walk away, there is silence.

I thank them as I place the bill down. I hear, I’m going to the room and I don’t want you to come up for a while. Ouch! I think. This will not be a good night for them. Why go through dinner? Why torture yourself? Sure, it was entertaining to my creative being trying to come up with all sorts of conversations they would have. Who was the other woman? Why would he cheat? Did he cheat? Maybe the other woman was an event planner setting up their wedding anniversary surprise for her from him? There were many possibilities my imagination played around with. The man signed the bill and as he walked to leave the dining room; he apologized for their behavior and asked me if there was a bar in the hotel. I told him about the Glace and he wandered off to find more scotch to ease his bruised ego. I desperately wanted to ask him if he was cheating, or what it all a big misunderstanding?

I never saw the couple again. My curiosity questioned if he went back to the room, and they had a big fight? Did she leave the hotel and not tell him? What happened to this couple? I experienced a few of these uncomfortable situations when I was serving at the Lake. This may not be a secret, but this situation lingers in the walls of the hotel. Sometimes I could feel the ghosts of the past linger in the lobby as I walked through to a function I was working. I wonder if my stories are hanging in the air of the dining rooms where I started my unexpected hotel life.

***

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

What’s The Exchange Rate?

Working at the front desk at a hotel can be rewarding. It also can be an interesting adventure/challenge. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I transferred from the food and beverage department to the rooms division department (front desk/operations). I thought the front desk just checked in and out guests from the hotel. When I worked for the luxury hotel in Lake Louise, Alberta, I wasn’t as privy to the front desk as I am now. I knew what the bellmen did; I watched them a lot on my days off when I walked to the Lake to get away from the staff accommodations. It was hard living with the same people you worked with day after day. Sometimes I needed a break from my good friends or we wouldn’t have remained friends.

When I watched the front desk agents at the luxury hotel in Lake Louise, I didn’t envy their position. The girls at the desk always had a big smile across their faces, nodding in agreements with the guests in front of them. There seemed to be a lot of fake laughter in the air as guests told stories to the front desk agents. It was very similar to the phony giggles of the dining room servers as they listened to the same questions from guests inquiring if we painted the bottom of the Lake to make it that color of blue. At least I could hide behind the kitchen doors to roll my eyes, complain about the guests or listen to a quick story from the chefs while I waited to pick up food. The front desk agents were stuck behind the desk with a line of guests waiting to either check in or out of the hotel, ask a question, make a complaint, or just strike up a conversation. Guests stop by the front desk to share their experiences. It’s hard to walk away from a guest when they start talking about their lost luggage, what they had for dinner, where they are visiting from, the weather where they are from and my favorite their opinion on how the room should be set up or what TV channels should be offered.

 

In my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, I have shared some interesting guest interactions. It is hard to surprise me these days. I have seen and heard a lot of let’s say, self-drama/dumb ass conversations with guests. When I say dumb-ass, I mean it in the nicest possible way. I wonder if people leave their common sense at home when they go on vacation? Maybe you can relate to a story from my memoir.

RECENTLY, at the hotel where I now work, I had a similar crazy
conversation about US currency. A woman handed me a $20 US
bill and asked for change. I said she would be getting Canadian
currency back.
She turned up her nose. “What am I going to do with that?”
I asked her what she wanted the change for.
“For tips and to buy a soda at 7-Eleven.”
My response was, “You can do the same, and if you have any
left over, you can exchange it at the bank.”
She scrunched her nose more and peered closely at my
name tag.
 Sis: Go right ahead, lady, you won’t be the last person to
try to remember her name.
 Marion Ann: Looking at our name tags doesn’t intimidate
me anymore.
 Sis: Especially when they can’t even say your name.
 Marion Ann: Exactly.
A few minutes later, her daughter joined her and shared the
same fact about the currency exchange, thank you. The mother was
not impressed. Seriously? It’s 2018.

 

I have been working at a front desk in some capacity for over fifteen years. A mix of luxury and independent hotels are highlighted on my resume and though they may be a different property and location, the concept of working at the front desk is similar. As a manager, my role has changed. I still deal with guests, mostly when they want to “speak with a manager”. I help check guests in and out of the hotel, I offer suggestions to local attractions and dining experiences. I offer an ear when guests need someone to talk to or get away from their traveling companions. My job is not a job, it is a way of life. I am here to be of service to others and working in the hospitality business happens to be my way of being of service. Today at this moment this is my truth. Thank you for being here with me today. Wishing a great day!

To learn more about me, my writing and my next memoir about working for luxury hotels and resorts, please sign up for my Newsletter ~ Thank you

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

Out of Order

out of order

(of an electrical or mechanical device) not working properly or at all.
synonyms: not working, not in working order, not functioning, broken, broken-down, out of service, out of commission.

As someone who has been in the hospitality and tourism business for over twenty years, I’ve learned a lot of verbiages that may not mean a lot to someone who hasn’t worked in a hotel. Hotel jargon is learned over time, it’s like a secret language. For example, ‘In the Weeds’, to be so busy that you can’t get out of the mess you are in. ‘Vacant clean’, a clean room that is ready to be checked in. ‘Out of order’. It means exactly what you think it means, something is out-of-order. Something is not working the way it should and it has to put it out-of-order to fix.

When it comes to having a hotel room needing to go out-of-order it’s not the best phrase to hear for the employees or supervisors or the business. It means one less room to make revenue, to pay for the repair, to pay for the employees working, it’s a loss for the business. It’s a bit of stress for the supervisor to figure out what to do next. For the employee, the stress of what may or may not happen if the room is not back to check in for the guest that booked the room and potentially booked the room over four months ago. It is hard to tell a guest the room the book is not available due to unforeseen circumstances.                                                                            To the guest? The term means nothing to them. Guests don’t need to know that the room they book had a leak or the previous guests decided to have a party and trashed the room and it can’t be checked in due to the hole in the wall and although the maintenance team is amazing, they need at least twenty-four hours to fix a hole in the wall.  Now we have to find another room to put them into which is tricky because the hotel is fully booked. Yikes! Now what? Pray to cancellation gods that someone will cancel at the last minute and for that, I would wave the 24-hour cancellation policy and everyone involved is grateful. The guest that cancels doesn’t have the stress of paying the last-minute cancellation fee. The guest that booked the out of room now has room to be checked into. The front desk supervisor or employee doesn’t have to tell the guest their room is not available. Everyone is happy.

When I was a server the only out-of-order concerns I had was the cappuccino machine going down for whatever mechanical reasoning. I would be upfront with guests when they had settled into their chairs and reviewing the menu. As I took the first drink order I would say something like, “I wanted to share that our cappuccino machine is taking a time out, I’m sorry we don’t have another machine available, but may I suggest the flambe specialty coffee, it goes really well with the banana fosters…” it didn’t always work and guests would be upset they couldn’t have their frothy caffeinated drink after their meal. Other guests didn’t care and ordered another glass of wine. Perfect. These are my kind of people.

Have you had to deal with any Out of Order situations? Where? How did you deal with it? I would love to hear your stories.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

 

Intuition – The Gut Feeling

in·tu·i·tion
noun
  1. the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.
    “we shall allow our intuition to guide us”

Do you know about your intuition? Have you used your intuition? I like to think of my intuition as divine intervention. I listen to my gut when I don’t feel good about something. Over the years I didn’t listen to my intuition and that got me into trouble, but when I did pay attention to the flapping red flag in the pit of my stomach I perked up and got out of some potentially serious situations.                    In my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, I use an inner voice to share a lot of thoughts. I call her, Sis, she can be considered my intuition but I also refer to her as my sassy-alter-ego-guardian-angel.

A Chapter from my memoir about intuition.

THEN there was Hillside Cabin which we called Hillside or sometimes
Hellside. This cabin was the only staff accommodation when
the resort was first established in 1924. Despite a few fires in the
log cabin over the years, the staff had no choice; they needed a
place to sleep. The cabin had over 100 beds in a series of rooms,
each room with a set of bunk-beds.

No one wanted to be in Hellside. There was allegedly a curse
on it, and would you blame the person who started that rumor? No.
It was not the safest place to put staff, but, if you needed a place to
sleep, you didn’t have much to say. Except for me. I always had
something to say about my living arrangements.

I said I’d check Hillside out, but I wanted to be in Brewster. I
called my cousin. Debbie was against me even staying one night in
Hillside. You’d think if you arrived at the Lake early, that staff
services could move you. I was true to my word about visiting the
heritage building. I walked into Hillside, and a cold breeze passed
by me. The energy felt thick, sad, and downright negative. The
musty smell made my eyes tear up. I looked for the improvements
and found new living room furniture, but not much else.
I’d heard many stories about Hillside. Something wasn’t right
about the building. I circled the little cabin to give it a chance, but I
knew I wouldn’t stay there. The room I was assigned to was no
more than the size of the bunk beds, with a tall dresser and small
closet. When I sat on the bottom bunk, a shiver went up my back. I
stood up and walked out.

Sis: Hell no!
Marion Ann: I’m outta here.

“I’m not staying in Hillside. I’m here early and a returning
employee. I’ve earned a place in Brewster.”
The staff services manager smiled at me, and tried to explain
everything had been assigned and I’d have to stay in Hillside for
one or two nights for them to figure out where to move me.
I told him no and to look for other F&B servers coming in and
put me with them in Brewster building. I didn’t care where I stayed
as long as it wasn’t Hillside.
Sis: Be careful of what you wish for.
An hour later I was unpacking my stuff in Brewster’s second
floor. Half of my new dorm was above Stables. I needed to invest
in earplugs or be in the pub most nights. I vowed not to let the
second option come to fruition even though I knew I couldn’t resist
Stables after a hard night in the dining room.
The girl who was assigned to the same room in Hillside after I
refused to stay there was sexually assaulted by a random transient
to the Lake looking for a party. The risk of living on a mountain in
a remote resort area came to my attention early that summer.
Randomness was a common theme.

Sis: Shit. That could have been….
Marion Ann: Me.

I’m blessed and thankful that the universe gave me the balls to
get the hell out of a place where my body warned me something
was wrong. Days after the assault, people would come up to me
and tell me how lucky I was. “That could’ve been you.”

To learn more about Sis and my story working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, please read HERE. Thank you for stopping by.

Until Tomorrow, Keep on Typing…

Smiles Are Free – My Hotel Life

When I left for a four-month summer job at The Chateau Lake Louise, I knew my life was going to change. I was looking for an adventure. Nova Scotia, at the time, didn’t seem enough for my nineteen-year-old lost soul. I was caught in a self-made love triangle over two guys and it kinda blew up in my face. I also needed to move away from under my mother’s thumb. I love my mother dearly, but when I was younger I didn’t care for her. I felt I couldn’t live under her roof for much longer. We all have a version of an estranged relationship with our mothers, fathers, siblings or/and family.

My first hospitality job was working at McDonald’s. I was fifteen years old and I wanted to stay home and write the stories that had been whispering in my ears. My father had another plan for me. I was told my allowance was cut off and I had to find a job. Ouch! At the time I didn’t see eye to eye with my father’s decision, but years later I am grateful. I am more independent for his act of tough love. My mother knew a manager at the McDonald’s that we faithfully went to each week. I met with, let’s call her Janet, and I was hired on the spot. ‘Smiles are Free’ was still on the menu board and I took that job as seriously as I could. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to.

The Golden Arches had and still has a great training program. I never forgot how to smile while taking someone’s order when working in the drive-thru. That part of the job carried into my other jobs in the hotel world. I worked as a switchboard operator and the office was located in the bottom of the hotel, no window’s, crappy fluorescent lighting, but when you called you heard my sunny bright voice, “Thank you for calling the Palliser Hotel, this is Marion Ann, how may I direct your call.” I must have said that a hundred time a day, if not more. Our General Manager would randomly call on a Sunday afternoon and after my spiel, he would say, “It’s so nice to hear your smile, Marion Ann.” Who the hell? I thought to myself, not knowing who was on the other end of the phone.                                                            “Hi, Marion Ann it Mr. X” – I thought this was a weird way to check up on your employees, but after I became a manager I started to understand why he checked in on his property. When you call an establishment, would you rather hear a happy voice on the other end or someone who just got the worst news of their life? Business is business and I am grateful for those little check-ins from our general manager. The tests kept me on my toes. I never knew who was on the other end of the phone. It could be Mr. X or Mrs. Smith calling for the first time, or Celebrity A calling because they needed my immediate attention to help them with something very important, like going to the Bay and buying their favorite nylons. I am not kidding you. And my responses, “My pleasure Mr. X, Mrs. Smith, Celebrity A.” and all with a smile.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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Rethink the 9 to 5 life

I’m busy. I know, I know, no one is that ‘busy’. What I mean is I’m busy with my full-time job at the hotel. I don’t doubt that we are all busy – trying to make it through to the end of day. I can’t remember it being this busy at the hotel over the past six years that I have been working there. But, I have changed my responsibilities, I wear two hats and it is keeping me on toes.

 

 

I love my job, it provides me with what is needed to maintain and excel this creative life. I’ve been professing this gratitude statement for years because deep down I know it to be true. I wouldn’t be on this beautiful Canadian West Coast Island where I am surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and mountains. I’m happy with the rain over the heaps of snow that tend to pile up over the winter across the country.

Today, it’s Friday, I work in the afternoon. Some people who work 9-5, Monday to Friday cringe when they hear this. They tend to say, That’s terrible, I could not have weekends off. You’ve been doing this job for over twenty years, you’d think you’d get weekends off by now. Do you want to know what I think when they say stuff like this to me? I’d like to keep it PG here, but the f-bombs go off in my head as I smile politely and tell them it’s okay, it’s part of the job and I like working Friday nights. I get to people watch and you know I love to people watch – I’ve seen and heard some interesting conversations that have triggered my creative juices and I have another story swirling around to be written. Thank you. I also get a lot more work done than on a Tuesday afternoon when stuff is hitting the fan; like the hot tub going down or an employee calls in sick for the overnight shift and you are calling all the backups desperately wishing someone will be available or I’ll be the one sitting at the front desk making sure I roll the day over for the accounting team. (This hasn’t happened to me, but it has come pretty damn close over the years in different hotels I’ve worked at.)

 

The one thing the people who cringe that I don’t have weekends off are right about is I have been in the hotel business for over twenty years. That much is true. I haven’t been at this hotel for twenty years and your time served in one industry does not guarantee you weekends off. The only hotel job I ever had weekends off was when I was an administrative assistant and the office hours happen to be Monday to Friday, 8:30-5:00 pm – getting home at 5:15 pm (I lived 15 minutes away from the hotel) was so foreign to me. What do I do with myself on a Friday night when most of my friends are working at another hotel? I soon filled my weekends with what I really wanted to be doing. Writing. Spending time with other writers, attending workshops for writing, volunteering for art festivals, promoting the writing group I was a part of. It was my heaven. It was the creative life I had been visualizing myself living for a very long time. It wasn’t even me seeing myself doing this, I was living the life that I knew to be true. Does that make sense? I hope so, it sure feels like it was at that moment. I miss that work-life balance that I am currently striving to have in this moment.

 

The other time I had weekends off was when I worked at a bank before weekend hours started. This was when I briefly left the hotel life for about a year and a half. After working in a bank and then retail, I couldn’t run fast enough back to the hotel world and I never looked back. I may vent about my job, and I know I started this blog off with “I’m Busy” and I am, but I am so very grateful for this amazing opportunity that has been provided. One where I get paid to be a coach to great employees and to myself. I also get a bird’s eye view of every kind of personality and they all help add to any story I am working on, even inspire a few short stories here and there. Thank goodness for visitors and random people who walk up to the front desk and share their story.

Even if you are busy, what are you grateful for in that moment?

Until next time, keep on typing. . ..

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