My father was a complex man. He loved his home, Colorado yet held his own in corporate life. He negotiated on national and international levels but did not forget who he was.
One high school summer we drove from our transferred home in New Jersey to see Dad’s boyhood home in Colorado Springs. This was a typical family drive, broken into 3-4 days with the usual insanity caused by boredom and being in close proximity. But we survived and arrived in one piece and with no bloodshed
We drove from Colorado Springs to Aspen, over Independence Pass where I learned my iron-clad, fearless Mom was acrophobic. Hairpin curves, well over 10,000 foot altitude.
Being summer the mountain meadows were dotted with brilliant yellows and reds of Indian paintbrush, cool blues of columbine. We stayed at a small lodge and over the few days there the owners invited me to work there the following summer. Never having been on my own up to that point, I was thrilled.
My brother and some good friends also planned to be there to work at opening an abandoned silver mine on the Pass and we’d see each other on the weekends.
Minimum wage then was barely a dollar an hour. I worked as a maid at this lodge and as a novice employee was not entitled to tips, the other maid was unless it was her day off. Her efforts at training were hopeless. Everything was new to me. She was a party girl, I was not, so I pulled her weight many mornings she dragged in late, once not showing at all. That particular day we had almost 100% checkouts for the day. AAA rating was the highest possible, until that day. Hotel inspections are never announced and that day was the day.
The lodge failed inspection. Not lower. Flat-out failed.
In all fairness the owners were angry at senior housekeeper. She had no way of knowing the inspection was the day of her massive hangover, but still. I knew how to clean a bathroom, change bed linens. I could not figure out what I’d missed.
As the days crept morbidly on my brother came to town a couple of times. I was given accommodations across the street at a different lodge with housekeepers for that lodge. We ate scant meals to scrimp and save but I really wanted to offer a feast for my brother and his friends so I proudly put select vegetables, potatoes and a sirloin roast in my cart. First time ever buying groceries. 17 years old. No idea the price on the roast was per pound, not $1.70 for the whole roast. My entire paycheck was gone! I was saving not enough to get home.
It so happened brother and friends were also running out of money and decided to fold up their tents and drive home. I went to my employer and explained this looked like my only possible means of getting home so I would be leaving. In the middle of the summer season.
Did I realize I would lose every chance at an opportunity to come back and work there again?
Oh, yes, I did.
Did I understand how inconvenient this was?
Oh yes, I was very sorry but could see no other option.
So I was dismissed.
We did have a bit of fun, the Aspen Music Festival where all the events were, then, free. We had a couple of parties, one of which I frankly do not remember. At all. And that elaborate dinner.
Memories of glory days.
— to my kind readers: I am struggling with this new WP editor. I can’t find where to insert tags! So I hope against hope this is not my last post since I have been writing on this blog for over seven years. But it might be. If it is I want to thank you deeply for your thoughtful comments and for sharing a corner of my life. You have become my friends. Edith