A Flight Risk: An Innkeeper’s Journal

JUNE 2015: I clean the laundry room in preparation for the new dryer. The owner has called a meeting with us. We are meeting him at his office at eleven. When we spoke to him yesterday he expressed concern over the fact we hadn’t unpacked our trailer yet.

“You need a place to get comfortable, put your feet up, and watch a ball game.”

Rich wondered if he was afraid we might be a flight risk, our trailer parked in the driveway filled with all our worldly possessions, ready to flee in the dark of night. He might think we’re overwhelmed with the things that need fixing and cleaning. The mountains of laundry from the week before we started, the cat and dog hair covering the baseboards and radiators in the innkeeper’s quarters, the greasy floor in the kitchen, the busy summer season fast approaching.

We have been cleaning but are reluctant to bring all our things inside until the place is free of dog and cat hair. Rich has allergies. His eyes water and itch.

Rich turns the two rooms we need for tonight. I keep the laundry moving. Each time I sit down to put my feet up the phone rings and we get another reservation for tonight. We had four rooms filled, now we have six. If I keep sitting here I’ll have the place booked in an hour and won’t feel so bad about not helping out upstairs.

Rich returns to the kitchen with a baseball cap. “This is Fred’s. We need to call him.”

“He’s probably half way home by now.”

“No, he told me he’s going for a hike nearby. He’ll want his hat. It’s from Montauk.”

I notice the MTK on the front of the cap. It is old and faded but Rich has at least forty baseball caps like this from golf courses, lumber yards, and vacation spots. Some are covered with paint or have faded over the years, all have sentimental attachments. I look up Fred’s reservation in the bible. We have his cell phone number. Rich calls and sure enough Fred wants his hat.

“You see that. I was right. I have skills too you know.” Ten minutes later the driveway buzzer rings. It is Fred, finished with his hike and back to retrieve his hat.

Hank from Singapore checks in at three after flying into JFK airport early this morning. He arrives in a cab that picked him up at the Millerton, New York train station. His son arrives at five and drives him to the honors banquet at his private school. When they return later in the evening, they smoke thin, foreign cigarettes on the front porch, and he informs us he will need a taxi tomorrow to get back to the school for the graduation. At 9:30 at night we are Googling cabs in an area that has very few cabs. This is not Singapore.

Most of our guests this weekend are from foreign countries and are sleeping late on this Saturday morning. It must be jet lag.

I always serve a strawberry sliced and splayed like a fan. I prep them in advance which helps us keep track of how many people we have left to serve. We count by strawberries. I put them back in the fridge and wait for everyone to wake up.

Hank from Singapore tells us he will hire the cab for the entire evening. One livery company said it would charge $225 but then couldn’t find a driver. I tell Rich to do it and make the $225 but my car is a rattling, bouncing piece of shit with bad shocks and struts and Rich drives a Toyota Tundra. Finally at three in the afternoon a cab company in Torrington, the opposite direction from the one Hank needs to go, says they can do it for $200. Hank is so grateful he shakes Rich’s hand and bows three times.

I am laid out on the couch exhausted from wearing the boot. Rich comes back to our living quarters and tells me the story of Hank and the cab and says, “I was born to be an innkeeper.”

My toes are black and blue and so is a big spot on my calf. My ankle really hurts and I tell Rich I think the break is getting worse not better. I may have broken more bones.

“Stop making things up. Wiggle your toes. You need circulation. You’re just complaining because you don’t want to wear the boot.”

I wiggle my toes. And yes, I don’t want to wear the boot.

A family from Venezuela is also here for the private school graduation. The Dad lived in Sudbury, MA where Rich grew up, went to some private school somewhere in America, and graduated from an Ivy league college before returning to Caracas. It amazes and dismays me that so many foreigners can afford a prestigious education in a country where so many young Americans are deep in debt paying for their own education.


Breakfast at the Inn


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