It’s funny how our lives can be moving along in a nice steady stream and we think we know how things will go and what we will do. Then along comes a twist. One you didn’t see coming. Sometimes they are hard and hurtful but sometimes they are nice and kind and surprising.
I want to talk about the surprisingly nice kind. We had just moved to a lovely little Borough on the Jersey Shore. We were just a fifteen minute walk to the beach, faster by bike. The public elementary school that our two youngest attended was just around the corner. The town was so small that there were no school busses simply because everyone lived in walking distance. It was such a small school that the teaching staff consisted of a kindergarten teacher, a combined first and second grade teacher, a combined third and fourth grade teacher, and a combined fifth and sixth grade teacher. The class sizes were ideal.
Naturally, in a town of this size and a school of this size, everyone knew who the new mom was. They were all friendly and kind. It was easy to get involved, and I did.
One day, one of the moms approached me outside the school as we waited for the day to end. It was just before the Thanksgiving holiday. She told me I should work at her friend’s Bed & Breakfast for the holiday tours. I just listened and kind of nodded in an uninterestingly way. She pressed on. She told me they need help serving tea and cookies for the tour in their home. I basically stated that it was nice, but I don’t think I can do that. Again, she pressed on. “You don’t understand”, she said. “All you have to do is pour tea and serve cookies and smile and they pay eight dollars an hour.” Something lit up inside me. I know that sounds like little money, but for what she said I would do and that year, eight dollars an hour was great. I committed to calling her friend.
I had an appointment to talk about the job. You must understand, that the next town over and the town we were in, kind of mingled together and held the highest concentration of Victorian era homes in the US. Most of these homes became Bed & Breakfasts or Guest Homes for vacationers to the Jersey Shore.
I met with the wife (husband and wife owners and Innkeepers). We hit it off and I was hired to stand by a cart of tea and cups, and as the tourists came in to see the Inn and hear the history (story told by Innkeeper husband) of their home, all I had to do was smile and ask if they would like a cup of tea, and hand it to them and direct them to the cookies.
Well, the tours go from the day after our Thanksgiving, in November, to the New Year. Weekends mostly and evenings. I loved it. A couple of days before the end of the tours, the Innkeeper (wife) was looking at me and talking to some family members. I got nervous. I thought this was it, no more tours for me. On the contrary, she came up to me after everyone left and offered me a job as Assistant Innkeeper. Their present one was leaving and thought I would be perfect. I told her I do not know a thing about B & B’s or hospitality business. She wasn’t worried.
So began an adventure that I would never have chosen. Ever. I think God knows better than I do. It was so good for me. I learned to clean, cook, make reservations, oversee other staff and then the hardest of all – I learned to “schmooze” with the guests.
You see, I can talk to people and even have you believe I am an extrovert. Not true. It is probably one of the hardest things for me to do. I remember the first day the Innkeepers told me they would be out of town for the day and I would have to stay and check the guests in. SAY WHAT??? I confess, that when the first guests arrived and the doorbell rang, and I came up from the basement laundry, around the corner, and stopped. They weren’t looking in the door, so I quickly backed up and leaned against the wall in a sweat. Heart racing and almost in tears, I quickly said a prayer and pulled myself together, got into character and greeted them as if I was doing it from birth. A major victory in my life that day! Really, you can laugh, I do. For us introverts it can be challenging and traumatic. OK, that’s a bit dramatic. Dramatic! That’s it, I should have gone into acting. Because a lot of this involvement with people is “getting into character“. I’m not pretending, I am very sincere in my conversation and relationship with these people. I really do love talking to people. But it’s also hard. It was a very freeing time for me and has helped me a lot with things I ended up doing in the future. I felt I overcame a huge obstacle that day.
One other quick story. I suck at waitressing. Tried that once and totally failed. So, a Bed & Breakfast serves breakfast. However, everyone gets the same food unless they are on a special diet. Easy. Well, one day, a woman asked for a glass of water. We did not put water out as a habit. I said, “Of course”. Then I ran to the kitchen in a near panic and told the Man, “A woman asked for a glass of water!?!?!?” He looked at me and replied, “Well, give her one.” Duh. (I added the the duh – he thought I was funny)
So, this story is for all you great readers who questions things that may pop up in your life, opportunities that you would never have pursued or said yes to. Before saying no, think it over first. See if it will benefit you (I’m sure it will in some way) or make a way for another greater opportunity.
The Fairthorne Inn
The Fairthorne Cottage