During my travels across the U.S. and Canada I have held down an interesting variety of jobs. Each of them has taught me new things about myself, and whether using my head or my elbows to get the job done all have brought me something new to learn.
While living in Washington state my ex and I lived in a motel room for nine months. The motel catered to construction workers and was set up for month-to-month visitors. The rooms were large and each equipped with a full-size refrigerator. I commandeered two two-burner hot plates from the manager and supplied my small kitchen with silverware, pots and pans and dishes purchased at the local thrift store. Shelves were constructed out of bricks and plywood to store my canned and dry goods. Most nights I was cooking on all burners and often managed to blow the fuses on our side of the building which resulted in an angry call from the front desk. The motel staff would often follow the smell to our room to grab a pot of beans or a bowl of soup, kind of like our extended family.
My husband went to work at the lumber mill so I was left to fend for myself during the day. Not being one to sit around, I jumped on an offer from the owner of the motel to fill an opening on their housekeeping staff. Although I have an extensive resume of unusual jobs, I’d never been a motel maid before. Cleaning is something I’ve done most of my life, so figured I could hold my own.
It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I never realized what a physically demanding job housekeeping was. Fifteen rooms for each housekeeper. The rooms all had one or two beds to be stripped and remade. In addition, bathrooms, dusting and vacuuming needed to be done. A real workout by the end of the day.
For me, the biggest challenge was knocking on the door. You never knew who was going to answer, of if they didn’t answer what you might find on the other side if you used your key. More than one embarrassing moment comes to mind, but that’s another blog.
One week we had a rock band book five rooms for a week. Not a well-known name obviously, or they wouldn’t have been staying in our establishment. A rock band nonetheless. They arrived from their gigs deep in the dark of night and partied themselves senseless until around noon at which time they either passed out or went to sleep. All five rooms were assigned to me. In one of the rooms, the gathering spot from the looks of it, the toilet would sometimes be filled to the brim with floating beer bottles. Once there was even ice in there. Maybe they were using it for a cooler. Where they went to the bathroom, I have no idea, and didn’t want to know. One afternoon I lifted up the pillow to the chair to explore something drooling down one side. Beneath the pad I found an entire bowl of Fruit Loops floating in milk alongside several soggy slices of half eaten pepperoni pizza. All the ashtrays were left overflowing with the run over deposited in the nightstand drawers. Despite what messpots they could be, the guys themselves were gregarious and funny. As colorful a group as they were, I was not totally sad to see them move on. They did give me tickets to their last concert and left me new appreciation for how hard the housekeepers work in such places for not much compensation.
One night during our stay, after a particularly long day, I laid down for a nap. My husband was in the shower, and I left the screen door open to allow some fresh air in the room. I closed my eyes and was nearly asleep when I felt someone sit on the bed. Half awake it occurred to me that the shower was still running so I opened my eyes to find a complete stranger clad only in a towel lying on the bed next to me. A present, and it wasn’t even my birthday. At this particular moment my husband emerged from the bathroom with some obvious questions on his face. I jumped up and the man rolled over and began snoring. After being roughly woken up by my husband it was easy to see he’d been enjoying his day off with numerous cocktails. A slurred explanation was he must have mistaken our room for his. He acknowledged his room didn’t come with a woman in the bed, a perk he seemed to prefer over the miniature shampoos and conditioners.
Both times I’m been on cruise ships I’ve been impressed by their housekeeping crew. How they manage to make your hand towels into bunnies and turtles amazes me. Besides all the other work involved in cleaning a stateroom, you have to be a master at origami as well.
I did this for six months and have to say it was eye-opening for me, and certainly not dull. Now when I stay in a motel or hotel I always try to leave the room in good shape because I have an appreciation for the work they do. The quote above is one I use with the children in my life who fear hard work will do them in.
This casserole takes some work, I’m not going to lie. In the end it is absolutely worth it. Tess, something went haywire with my last post and I couldn’t retrieve your comment, but thank you for making it.
1/4 cup plus extra virgin olive oil
2 potatoes, sliced thin
1 large onion, sliced thin
1 red, orange, yellow bell pepper
2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
1 6 oz. can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground tumeric
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Slice eggplant into 1/4″ rounds. Place rounds in colander and generously salt. Lay on paper towels for at least 1/2 hour. Rinse well with water and pat dry with paper towels.
Thinly slice potatoes.
Heat oil (about 1/8″ up the edge of the pan) over high heat. Working in batches cook the eggplant, draining on paper towels. Add oil as needed.
Spray 9 x 13″ casserole dish with cooking spray. Place cooked eggplant on bottom.
Add more oil to the pan and brown the potato slices until golden. Drain on paper towels. Layer on top of eggplant.
If needed add oil to pan. Over medium heat cook and turn peppers and onions until tender (about 8-10 mins.) Layer on top of potatoes.
Mix together remaining ingredients. Pour over all. Gently mix so not to break up the eggplant.
Bake in preheated oven for 50 mins. or until bubbly. Serve over rice.
Note: You can make the vegetables ahead of time and then pour the tomato sauce over just before baking.