Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Obsessive Compulsive Innkeeper Cringe

All jobs are not suited for everyone. In my case, I would be hopeless at a career working with animals. I often blame my uneasiness around four-legged friends on an ill-fated night of babysitting when I was thirteen. I was attacked by a psychotic cat-- great material for another cringe. But really, my hesitation around pets was evident much earlier. There’s a photo of me at eighteen months surrounded by a litter of new puppies. I’m screaming bloody murder. My father’s persistence to have me ride the pony at various fairs during my childhood would result in full-blown distress. I recently took my kids to a sad little rescue zoo and made the absurd decision to take a stroll through the attached animal adoption shelter. As vicious looking dogs barked and snarled from their cages, jumping so high that I thought they might clear their metal fences and massacre everyone, I lost the feeling in my limbs. I was still engaged in some type of hyperventilation and panic thirty minutes after our departure. Marty had to repeat, “Are you sure you’re okay?” as I gulped air from my passenger side window. No veterinary, circus, zoo, shelter, or pet-sitting jobs for me. I’m aware of my limitations.

This past weekend marked the fifth annual Wetherill Family Reunion. This three-generational gathering rounds up forty cousins, aunts, and uncles from across the United States. It’s a challenge each year to find a location that provides affordability, easy travel access for the majority in the Northeast, and fun/nice/scenic/private setting.

We almost nailed it this year. The price, location, and atmosphere were stellar. The drawback was one neurotic innkeeper named Randy. Randy is as ill-suited for the career of purveyor of human lodging as I am for lion tamer. Regrettably, Randy is not cognizant of his own limitations.

The sign posted at the front desk was the first clue to Randy’s issues. See above. People in violation of Randy’s rules faced expulsion. It was unnerving to sign your credit card receipt and accept your key with this word lurking over Randy’s shoulder. Perhaps expulsion could be an appropriate warning and consequence for some venues, say, Panama City, Florida during spring break. Randy’s place was one step above camping in fifteen immaculate units nestled by an inlet on the sleepy coast of southeastern Connecticut.

Randy was an enthusiastic concierge, describing many local activities and points of interest. It wasn’t immediately obvious, even despite the expulsion notice, that Randy was desperate to have guests off of his property during daylight-- the thought of having us use his pristine pool turned out to be debilitating for him. He mentioned the availability of kayaks for guest use with caution. If you want to use one of my kayaks, you must sign a hold-harmless agreement. He was quick to add: that means if you slip and fall and die, you can’t sue me. As I hugged and greeted my relatives, Randy insisted on personally showing Marty to our room. Marty was instructed on the proper way to open and close the shower doors to keep the floor from getting wet. Slide open. Slide closed.

Randy spent the weekend skulking around the corners and locking the pool gate whenever it was temporarily empty of swimmers. At first he feigned he needed to treat the water with chemicals. Our pre-arranged clambake event, provided by an outside caterer, really put Randy over the edge. He spoke to me several times about the need for all children to wash their hands thoroughly after eating shellfish because he was concerned about lobster entrails on his bedspreads. He also clarified, three times, that his picnic tables were to be wiped down, and that the clambake company would remove all garbage from the premises. Yes, I assured Randy as best as I could, taking notice that he was developing a tic when he spoke of dirty hands. Shortly after the clambake was under way, Randy ran to the pool gate and threw down the lock. He feared lobster claws and mussel slime floating in the blue oasis.

“I’m locking up the pool for your group. I might open it for someone else if they need it,” he mumbled as he walked up the hill back to his quarters. We were collectively confused—there were no other guests but us reunion kin.

The children gathered around the pool gate the next morning, antsy to enter. Some had their goggles on already. Randy stood above with his hands on his hips, pacing. He moved down the hill slowly with a grave expression.

“There are rocks in the pool,” he declared. “I can’t open it up until my guy comes to remove them.”

“The kids can jump in and get them for you,” one of my cousins suggested.

Randy’s whole body reacted. He recoiled. “Unless you want to pay me $10,000. for a new pool liner, you have to wait for my diver to come.”

My Uncle Bob answered for all of us. “No, No. Randy. We don’t want to pay you $10,000. No-sir-yee.”

At this point, more than a few of us were worrying about expulsion. It was the last day of our affair. It seemed prudent to pack up our cars and speed out of this peculiar little man’s cove.

“I sure hope you come back again,” Randy told me as we checked out. He even shook my potentially lobster-juicy hand. “You were a really nice group. The kids were all very well behaved.”

It was true. The fifteen kids had been quite good.

I thanked Randy and felt a stir of empathy for him, and of course, a pang of cringe. He really is in the wrong line of work, and working very hard at it. Given his limitations, he was getting by. He was doing far better than I would on the canine squad.


  1. Jennifer KraljevichAugust 11, 2010 at 7:59 PM

    LOL Tracy! It seems so funny to read but yet it was so true! He was always lurking around the corner, I always worried that we would be expelled because of the kids jumping in the pool or talking too loudly outside!

  2. Oh, Tracy! This is hilarious...I so would have been expunged!

  3. The sign was too good not to take a picture of...I had to sneak in there while Randy was elsewhere...obsessing.

  4. that is hysterical! Someone should make a movie about Randy. This would only happen to you Tracey

  5. Thank you Lori for always pumping me up! And yes, a movie or reality series about Randy would be very funny.

  6. Hey - no post in TEN days, I need my fix!!!