The Ups and Downs of Innkeeping
July 5, 2013 by Susan Murray
It’s been almost four years since James and I bought our Bed and Breakfast in Asheville, NC. It’s been a steady learning curve for both us. In the early days we did everything: cleaned the rooms, shopped, cooked, manned the front desk, answered questions and worked on getting the house and grounds up to our standards. It was a crazy time at the Carolina Bed & Breakfast but very rewarding as things got easier and bookings increased.
Finally it seemed the house is in good shape, the landscaping is done and the plantings thriving. James and I have worked out a routine which has the two of us working side by side, sharing some tasks and being largely responsible for some others. In addition, we have as great staff, including Sara, our Assistant Innkeeper, and we were beginning to be able to enjoy some time off. Ah hubris! We have back-ups for everything: dishwashers, washing machines, coffee machines, bookings online are recorded on paper, extra baked goods are in the freezer for the unexpected check-in, triple stock of bedding linens and towels. We have back-ups for everything that is except for each other.
So Monday when I found myself sitting in the waiting room of the Sister’s of Mercy Urgent Care Center with a throbbing ankle, my only thought was “how are we going to do this?” I had been finishing up my morning run and enjoying the fact that I was on the last downhill of a roller-coaster road when I stepped on a pebble and rolled my ankle. It hurt like crazy and I knew it was bad but I was still 3/4 of a mile from my car. In retrospect I probably should of sat down on the side of the road and waited until someone came by but I was concerned because it was the week of July Fourth and the inn was full. I didn’t want to be away too long. So I hobbled back to the car as best I could. By the time I got to the Carolina there was a lump the size of a baseball on the side of my ankle. Clearly this required more than aspirin and ice. It turns out I had torn two ligaments, bruised a bone in my foot and had a possible stress fracture in my leg (we will know more about that when they retake the x-rays next week). I returned home from the ER on crutches with a big, bulky black boot.
“We can do this !” James and I optimistically thought. “Susan can stand in one place in the kitchen and James can bring her everything she needs”. We forgot one little thing: who would be doing James’ job while he was taking care of half of mine? The first morning came close to disaster but for the wonderful Sara who dropped everything and came right over at 7:30AM at the first cry of “Help!!!!!!”. She got us through the first two days and things are working more smoothly now that I don’t need both crutches AND the boot. I still am not very mobile and need heavy things done for me (and someone else gets to make the multiple trips to the second washing machine in the basement) but I am able to hobble around the kitchen. The menu has been adjusted to allow for more pre-prep which makes less to do in the morning. (On the other hand, now that I am spending more time sitting, I seem to be find more and more recipes I would like to try which leads to much frustration). We have even figure out a way to iron sitting down.
To be fair, there is still a lot of extra work for James. He has to do all the check-ins and all the carrying and cleaning up. Which means I see even less of our guests than I usually do. They must wonder what I am up to back here! I’m trying to be very good about icing my foot and keeping it up whenever I can. Hopefully this “down” will be shorter than predicted and I will be back at work full time. Until then we appreciate all the patience our guests have shown and are very grateful for our staff and friends!
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