This question comes up periodically from both guests and others who think someday they might want to be innkeepers: What’s it like being an innkeeper? Or they ask, “How do you like it?” Of course as with any profession, it isn’t all rainbows, unicorns, and roses, but we genuinely love it. To give you a sense, I thought I’d share a bit about what a typical day looks like:
“Mornin honey,” I say to Steph as our paths cross in the bathroom of our apartment, just a few steps from from the back door of the inn.
“Ugh,” Steph replies with her sleepy, sweet eyes barely open, conveying that another night of studying after a full shift of work resulted in too little sleep for her. “My body hurts.”
“Me too,” I reply. “That [insert name of third-floor project at the inn here] yesterday kicked my booty. My everything hurts. Dang I feel old.”
“Well how many drinks did you have at the Union last night with [insert name of regular business guest here]?”
“Thirty four. But the music was awesome, and he’s so amazing. We solved world hunger and found the unified theory of physics, and had to celebrate with one more drink.”
Moments later as I wrap up my shower and rush to get next door to set tables and prepare to serve 18 breakfasts, I get a text from Steph, already at her full time nursing job. “Sorry honey, I was running late and didn’t take the dog out.” While there are never any pets allowed at the inn, our apartment is occupied by a little white Maltese. We love him, though he’s a character, oh, and his breath could drop a hardened soldier at 50 paces. Anyway, as I walk the dog, I talk silently to myself, uttering silently a usual refrain. “Today should be a fairly light day once breakfast is over. I’ve worked 19 straight days without a full day off, so I think I’ve earned a nap today. Yeah, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll come home for lunch and crash for a while this afternoon before check-ins start at four.”
As I head next door and begin setting up for breakfast with lightning speed and efficiency, Garrett says, “Just a reminder, if you go to the store today we need more fresh flowers. Oh, and [insert name of significant piece of equipment] needs another [insert name of strange-shaped part here] again.” I quickly add a part to the Lowe’s/Home Depot list on my phone, and resume a rapid pace of setup.
Guests arrive downstairs for breakfast and my day brightens. Nothing makes innkeepers happier than knowing people have enjoyed their stay, as well as the house and the city, and we never tire of seeing the smiles and hearing the stories of fun that was had, and how the city surprised them in a great way with it’s many cultural options, food, breweries, and things to do. Guests rotate through the breakfast process, seem far more relaxed than when they arrived, and I meet some very cool people, hear some extraordinary stories of real people living everyday lives–which to me seems more heroic and interesting than most bios of famous people. I also hear of celebrations, or unique business travels, and … “Excuse me Steve?” a voice interrupts from behind me.
“I’m so very sorry, but I wanted to let you know my makeup exploded on the bed and carpet in Room #5”.
You would honestly be surprised how often that happens. Or “I spilled wine”, or “do you have a bandage?”, or “I’m so sorry but I broke the toilet.” Candidly, such things used to stress me out more, but now I know it’s just part of the gig, and a cost of doing business. I’m grateful they told me so I can get a jump on it before check-ins arrive. I add more parts to the Lowe’s list on my phone, run upstairs to verify the situation, and then return to a busy pace of breakfast service and cleanup.
“Gosh,” I say to myself, “if I stay on it I can still get that nap in after Lowe’s. Wait, what? It’s 10:15 a.m. already? I haven’t started my phone and email messages and check-in processing yet!”
After slamming through emails and phone messages that came in during breakfast or overnight, coordinating special requests and preparing check-in paperwork for today’s arrivals, I realize I’m starving. The clock affirms it. It’s now 1:00 p.m.
“I’m out the door,” I say to housekeeping staff and Garrett. Lowes. Wendy’s for a bit. Meijer for a cart full of groceries. Sams or Costco for the bulk stuff, and I’m back at the inn. Replace the parts that were needed on [insert name of equipment here], put groceries away, reply to more phone and email messages (boy it was a busy day for calls), and I’m on a roll. Wait, the roofer and electrician are both coming to talk about that kitchen roof project, and the upgraded widgets just arrived for all the rooms. Ahhhh, I’ll put them up there after I wrap up some accounting quick. Quarterly payroll taxes are due, too.
“Honey, what are you up to tonight?” I text Steph. Given she’s in the final days of her masters degree, while working full time, helping me at the inn when possible, mothering our last teenager, and doing clinical rotations at the hospital, I should probably know the answer.
“Studying and then running to [insert vitally important errand here]. Maybe we can catch up on [insert Netflix bingworthy series title here] late tonight if I get caught up.”
“Couch time sounds wonderful, honey. No problem. I still have some more accounting to do, and I’m … WHAT, it’s 7pm already? I’m putting cookies out now and [insert friend’s name here] just texted that he’ll be next door at [insert brewery or restaurant with live music here] in a few minutes and [insert great local band here] is playing tonight; I’ll go have a pint and a pizza and say hi, and see you when you’re done.”
I put the evening cookies out. I’m tired, but ready to relax and socialize a bit down the street; it’s one of the great perks of living within steps of so many great venues and events. And with fifty years in the community, it’s pretty unusual if someone isn’t texting that they’re “right next door”. The downside is that a) there are so many great breweries, and b) it’s easy to say to myself, “I’m not driving, I can have another.” So little time, so much great beer, lol.
I chat with a few guests on the way out of the inn–they’re looking for somewhere good to eat and I tell them about the deal we’re going to enjoy.
After a great dinner, and quick resolutions that allow total world peace, and close the federal budget deficit by 750 billion over three years, I go back to the inn to see what the breakfast signups and workload look like, and at what time I’ll need to arrive in the morning.
Steph and I land on the couch, and begin to watch our Netflix series. “Wait, are we on episode nine? This doesn’t look familiar at all! But I know we watched number eight the other night. Ohhhh, that’s right honey, we fell asleep half way through.”
We laugh at ourselves and start watching. Fifteen minutes later, we’re asleep. As we rouse ourselves to move to the comfort of a bed (with Comphy brand sheets that are amazing, of course), I mumble to myself, “Tomorrow seems like a lighter day. I think I’m going to take a nap in the afternoon before the check-ins arrive.”
Off we go. For me it’s been a full day, a busy one, full of some great human connections and interactions, if perhaps a little short on sleep. And you know what? I wouldn’t trade it for just about anything.