What It Was Like Growing Up In A Motel

My parents owned a motel in a tiny town when I was a kid, from 4th grade through sort of high school.
  1. This is The Nordic Motel in Silverton, Oregon, although it didn't look like this when I lived there.
  2. This giant turret thing and even this whole wing wasn't there. That part is now a restaurant. We had no restaurant.
  3. When my parents bought this tiny, 20 room motel, it was the summer between 3rd and 4th grade, and my sisters were in high school, in 1973. The motel phone line couldn't be tied up, so my sisters and I got our own phone line. Not each of us, but the three of us shared a line.
    We were the only kids I knew who had their own phone line. It felt so extravagant.
  4. The office of the motel was right off our living quarters. When someone came into the office a bell would ring. So my parents didn't get up and come to the office just for us kids, they taught us to yell "It's me!" every time we got home. After we moved away, it took me years to break this habit. I think one of my sisters still does it sometimes.
  5. By the time I was in 5th grade my parents (probably foolishly) trusted me enough to leave me alone in charge of renting rooms while they went shopping or whatever. For hours at a time.
  6. In order to leave me alone and in charge, my mother trained (drilled) me on several things that I use to this day. All were customer service related. Some of them are:
  7. Smile when greeting a potential customer, whether in person or on the phone. And damnit, smile sincerely. Customers can tell!
  8. Answer the phone with an upbeat voice, like nothing could make you happier than helping them with whatever they need.
  9. If a customer wants something and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to give it to them, give it to them and worry about it later. Make the customer happy.
  10. Keep the damned cash drawer organized. 20s on he left, then 10s, 5s and 1s. All bills face the same direction - face up, top of bill on the right side. No wrinkles in any bills. Coins all in their correct slot. Always. Always!
    And don't mess with fixing the cash as a customer gives it to you. Jam it in the cash drawer any which way. After the customer leaves go back and fix it properly, but don't make them wait for you.
  11. To this day all of my money, in any situation, is extremely organized, in order, with nary a wrinkle.
  12. We always had to be quiet. We could not disturb a guest by being loud, so noise simply wasn't tolerated. At all. To this day I still expect quiet voices. It drives my wife and kids nuts and I have tried hard to overcome this, but when things get loud I get really anxious. This probably isn't great.
  13. As a result of my mother training me on how to deal with guests, I can now talk to anyone about anything. We practices conversations and how I should handle myself for hours, both in person and over the phone. I had to practice answering the phone hundreds of times in a row until I was perfect every time without having to think.
  14. Silverton had just over 5,000 people when we moved in, and my father had worked in this tiny town for five years as a phone repair man. He knew practically everyone in town and everyone knew him. He was very charismatic.
  15. Because of my father, everyone also knew me. I couldn't get away with anything!
    That's not true. I just had to be very careful. Sneaky!
  16. I learned how to move furniture like a pro. We were constantly moving beds and couches and dressers around. I don't know why. My father played a joke on me that he never got to deliver the punchline on.
  17. Whenever we moved furniture my dad would say "You take that end and walk backwards. When you're a dad and have kids of your own, you'll have to be the one walking backwards, so this is good practice."
  18. Of course the long joke was that HE was the dad and NEVER walked backwards!! I bet he laughed himself silly! "I keep telling him that the dad always walks backwards when moving furniture, but I make HIM walk backwards! Dumb kid! Hahahaha."
  19. I think he planned on having a punchline some day when I was an adult, but he got cancer and didn't live to see the day. I've laughed so many times for him and appreciate his humor.
  20. One of my favorite things about living in a motel was that we had the key to the Coke machine and my parents let us have free reign. As a result: Confessions of a Coke Addict
  21. While I loved having unlimited soda growing up, I didn't like always having to be quiet and on duty. On the whole, I think that this choice my parents made was one that really benefitted me. I had a great childhood!
    Potential upcoming list; How My Parents Went Broke By Buying A Second Motel.