More Tales from an Innkeeper's Crypt:Housekeepers and assistants

One of the stickiest relationships when running a bed and breakfast is that between the Innkeeper and their housekeeper or assistant. The two work so closely together that it's important that their personalities mesh. It took me a while to figure this out. And so, over the past 16 years, I've had a variety of assistants and housekeepers. The two jobs are basically the same. In fact, an assistant can also be a housekeeper or vice versa.

For the first couple of years I was in business, I did everything myself. But, when I started getting really busy, I knew I needed help. I found my first assistant on the streets of "Old Louisville" She was in front of one of the houses on the next street over from me loading the trunk of her car with cleaning supplies. I almost drove right past, but slammed on the brakes just in time to catch her before she drove away.

Margie was a beautiful. tall, healthy looking redhead with freckles all over her face. When I walked up to her, she smiled and greeted me warmly. I asked if she would be interested in working at a bed and breakfast. She answered yes immediately and seemed very interested. I had never had an assistant before, and I needed one badly. I hired her right on the spot without an interview or references. It turned out great for the first year and a half.

Margie was exceptional at house cleaning. She obviously knew what she was doing. When I first started using assistants, I confined them mostly to cleaning. I did all the cooking, serving, and taking care of the guests from reservations t to check-in, breakfast, and check out. Eventually, I started hiring culinary arts students from Sullivan University who were trained in hotel management and cooking and/or baking. This worked out really well. Most of them loved working in the kitchen; the hotel management people not so much, but they were good with the rooms, the guests, and the operation of the Inn.

Anyhow, back to Margie. I loved her. She was like a daughter to me and we got along so well. unfortunately, that only lasted for a while. After the first year and a half or so, I started noticing a change in her. For one thing, her behavior became somewhat erratic. She would get mad easily or come to work very moody and complain a lot. Then, she started showing up late, and eventually she started not showing up at all. I am very naive about drugs and did not notice all the ear marks.

One week-end, I left her alone with the Inn for three days, as I had done a few times before. I trusted her completely. When I returned, I was doing a routine check of my checking account when I noticed I was $500.00 short. I went through my check book and found that the very last check was missing. I called my bank and was told that the check had been put through at the Kroger grocery store near me. The bank sent me a copy and I saw that Margie has forged my signature. The bank took responsibility and put the $500.00 back into my account immediately.

I fired Margie and found out later that she had been on crack cocaine for months. She had stolen food and other items from two other Innkeepers, whom she worked for part-time and eventually ended up in jail. It was such a shame because she was a nice girl with two little children, who had just gotten mixed up with the wrong people.

My next assistant was Bryan, a 30-year-old African-American, gay, male, ex Ballet dancer. Bryan was with me for six years. He didn't cook, but he was very helpful with the guests, especially the ones who were "high maintenance", and he could really clean. He was slightly OCD and would spend hours and hours cleaning toilets and polishing up the handles on everything. He loved doing it. The bathrooms glistened.

Our relationship was quite interesting. He shared a lot of his personal life with me and we became rather good friends. We were not as close as Margie and I, but we got on quite well and I really trusted him. He had worked for other Innkeepers in Louisville, so he came with good references. Unfortunately, that old adage "familiarity breeds contempt" came into play the last year he was here and I had to let him go.

It was at this point that I started hired students from the culinary arts school in town. They were great, most of them trustworthy and responsible. There were only a couple who didn't work out. The problem was they would only stay for a year or two because they would graduate and either move back to their own cities or try to get a full-time job in a restaurant or hotel. I only needed part-time help.

One time I was so busy that I hired three students at the same time. Two went to school in the daytime and one at night. The night school student lived down the block from me. He was majoring in culinary, wanted to be a French chef. He wasn't French but he thought he was. And he also thought he could bake. But the only thing he really knew how to make was crepes. So I had him make hundreds of crepes and stack them on top of each other...then freeze them. My guests were eating crepes for months. He also knew how to make a really good filling and raspberry coulis to spoon over the top. But that was about it. The two girls I had working here at the same time kept complaining that he didn't know how to do anything in the kitchen, including cooking and baking. So I had to let him go.

I hated letting Page go cause it was nice having a man working in the kitchen. I had hired a student, who wanted to be a chef a few years prior to Page and he was great. He made the best bread pudding I have ever tasted in my life. I still have the recipe and will post it here soon. It's somewhat time intensive so I don't make it very often. But it can be frozen, so when I make it, I make a lot.

More by this Author

  • Bourbon: A Kentucky tradition

    Nothing says Kentucky like Bourbon. An act of congress in 1964 declared Bourbon to be "America's Native Spirit" and its official distilled spirit. Most bourbons are distilled in Kentucky and it is widely...

  • Appalachia: Dispelling the myth

    "...So many lies have been written about us, the mountain people, that folks from other states have formed an image of a gun-totin', tabaccer -spittin , whiskey drinkin', barefooted, foolish hillbilly who never...

  • Outdoor Container Gardening: Planting a Beautiful Pot of Flowers

    It's the middle of June and you still haven't put the finishing touches on your porches, decks and gardens They still look a little bare. One quick and easy way to remedy for this, is to plant some pots with flowers,...

Comments 22 comments

ralwus 6 years ago

You have had a very interesting career Nancy. Sounds like a lot of work and your soul was put into it. I suppose it was one heck of a learning experience too. A love of something is worth it I suppose. thanks for sharing this. Much love to ya hun, Charlie

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 6 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

Nancy, When I saw it was more tales from an Innkeeper's Crypt, I knew I was going to be entertained. I felt sorry for Margie, getting caught up in drugs and having a devastating affect on her life, and enjoyed the chef who thought he could bake.

Looking forward to more stories!

Thumbs up!

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, Charlie, I'll get back to you soon about the memoir. been sort of busy your number though :=)

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

@Violetsun: Yeah I've actually started putting all my stories together into a memoir.....I've written around 23000 words so far. I think it'll be at least twice that long.

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 6 years ago from Hither and Yonder

I admire your courage, not only having so many people in and out of your house, but hiring people to be there regularly, and trusting them with the mundane jobs. Too bad about Margie. It is so sad when that happens.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

@Ivorwen: Actually, I don't think of it as having courage, it's just a way of life to me. But I'll take it as a compliment....thanks. I've just learned to roll with the punches.

cindyvine profile image

cindyvine 6 years ago from Cape Town

At least your housekeepers didn't cover your bookshelf with psychadelic pink fake fur!

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

@cindy. No...they sure didn't. Did yours? Tell me about it.

killrats profile image

killrats 6 years ago from Cape town South Africa

Hi Alekhouse,

Glad I stopped to read. It is amazing how the the hand that feeds gets a chunk taken out of it. You at times have to trust and if you get bitten, its not your fault.

Will be following

Kind Regards,

Cliff (killrats)

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks for the comment

akirchner profile image

akirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

Great look into the Innkeeper's crypt and your experiences. Life is a crazy thing - especially when people are involved! Love the picture!!

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Glad you liked the hub Audrey. Thanks for comments.

Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

That is so sad about Margie. I am a cleaning lady my own self and understand how important trust is in that business.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

You are so right. Thanks, Dolores.

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

I enjoy your crypt stories too, I'm sure it will make a great memoir. Must be difficult to to do the hiring and firing.

I also like your charming picture of the serving wench with the rooster under her arm.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, Rochelle. I've got about 80 pages done on my memoir...lota work. Looking for an agent now.Got any ideas?

Rochelle Frank profile image

Rochelle Frank 6 years ago from California Gold Country

Not really, ask lmmartin or Rebecca E.

I have known of some people who got agents because they took their work to a writers' conference that offered face-to-face meetings with agents (for a fee, I think).

It at least gives someone a chance to know that the work was considered, only if briefly.

If you have a conference in an area that is easy to get to-- might be worth a shot.

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, Rochelle, for all the good ideas.

RedElf profile image

RedElf 6 years ago from Canada

Nancy, our friends and family always suggested that I open a B&B (I was with a partner then). They were amazed at how we could churn out meals for all comers, a dozen or so at a time. We always laughed and told them they were crazy. I will have to send them copies of your "Tales" - thanks so much for such interesting and informative hubs :D:D:D

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

You're very welcome. I'm in the process of putting them into a memoir, which is about half finished. The working title is: Operatic Divas and Naked Irishmen. I may start putting a few stories out that I've re-written for feedback.

Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

I love reading your bed and breakfast stories, Alek. I am always entertained...and impressed at the work required to operate one efficiently. I should think yours is a very nice one, indeed! I guess I'll have to buy the book to get the story on the naked Irishman, huh?

alekhouse profile image

alekhouse 6 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky Author

Thanks, Chris. The book has not been published yet. I'm only halfway through, but I am posting exerps from time to time on my new writer's site:

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article