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Guest opinion: Being a burden

By Staff | Apr 15, 2024

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Anneli Byrd

People are problematic. All people. We all need to be fed, clothed, get exercise, use the restroom, brush our teeth, etc., etc., etc. — forever. All of these things can cause inconvenience for ourselves and others. But if your work is in the hospitality industry, it’s helpful to at least pretend you are delighted to be of service. Poor, overworked Derek (not his real name) hasn’t quite got the message yet.

When we went up to Butte, Montana, for a short visit, we booked a stay at a beautiful bed and breakfast. We were met at the back door by Derek, who serves as the handyman and innkeeper. He told us a little about himself and that he was about to collapse from overwork. Then he showed us the huge kitchen; where we could store our food and told us we would be welcome to use anything to cook.

“Wait, so are we cooking our own breakfast?” we asked.

“Well, yeah. You guys didn’t pay for breakfast,” he said.

“I’m pretty sure we did,” Dave said.

He checked and, sure enough, we had paid for breakfast. He got a horrified look on his face.

“Oh great! And now I’ve got to fix breakfast for you two!”

“Uhhhhh, sorry?”

“Well follow me. You’re in the cook’s room.”

The home was lovely, and the cook’s room was charming.

“The lady who answered the phone said there was air conditioning?” we asked. (This is not a given in Butte.)

“Oh yeah. Here it is,” he said, hauling a unit out of the closet. We must have looked surprised, because he said, “It’s real easy once you get it hooked up. See, you just take this hose …” After a good five minutes of wrestling, he finally got it attached and gasped, “Sometimes it doesn’t want to go on. There! When you want it, just stick it in the window and do this and do that and then this and then that. Are you going to be OK?” I looked at Dave, who told Derek manfully, and probably untruthfully, that we’d be fine — which we were. Not because the unit worked, but because the weather was cool so we didn’t need AC after all.

The next day, given Derek’s feelings, we were expecting burnt toast on a paper plate, but no. Breakfast was beautifully presented and delicious. We asked if 9 a.m. tomorrow would also be OK to eat?

“Oh yes,” he said with a burdened sigh. “You won’t be the only ones tomorrow.” He threw his hands in the air, one of them is VEGAN! UGH! I don’t know how to cook vegan!”

We commiserated that we also did not know how to fix a vegan breakfast and scurried back upstairs, grateful that we weren’t the ones causing most of his misery this time.

The next morning, we met the others. The vegan was a friendly soul. He assured Derek that the breakfast smelled wonderful and he was sure it would be fine. But Derek wasn’t quite prepared to let his efforts go underappreciated.

“I had to use almond milk,” he said a little aggressively. “I hope that’s OK.”

“Almond milk is perfect, thank you.”

“Good,” he said and stomped off to get orange juice. He filled our glasses.

“And you?” he said to the vegan. “Do you want juice?”

“No, thank you.”

Derek raised his eyes to heaven. “I got juice because I thought vegans could drink orange juice. You can’t drink orange juice?”

“Umm, actually, some orange juice sounds very nice,” he said.

“Here,” he said, thumping the carton by the vegan’s plate. “I have a million things to do,” he said as he stomped off.

“I’m afraid we’re going to add to his workload,” I said. “We’re checking out today. So he’ll have to prepare the room for the next people.”

“We are too,” said the other couple.

“Worse still, I’ve ordered breakfast for the next three days,” said the vegan.

“OH NO!” we all said in mock horror.

“So, do we give this place a good review, because it really is beautiful, or do we give it a bad review so Derek can have a rest?” somebody asked.

We all scratched our heads.

In the end, we gave the place a good review because we still felt bad for being so needy as to want breakfast at a bed and breakfast. I wonder about our vegan friend sometimes. Did he make it out of there without being guilted into having bacon and eggs?

Anneli Byrd is an academic adviser in Weber State University’s Student Success Center.


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