In at the deep end – The First Phone Call

Sunday 19th September, Day 1 for J.O.Grieve in her new guise as Aspiring Motelier Extraordinaire at Dalby, the Thriving Hub of the Darling Downs.

Sunday – traditionally the quietest day in the motelier’s week – had proved something of a challenge even as the quietest day. There still seemed to be quite a lot happening, not much of which I knew or understood. I had always been on the other end of the motel spectrum, and happily so.

So, when Irene suggested at 3pm – the quietest part of the quietest day in the week of the average motelier – that I might like to field one sad, isolated incoming phone call, I acquiesced. Irene thrust a prompt into my hand which said words to the effect of “Good afternoon, Best Western Dalby Country Pathfinder Motor Inn, Jane speaking,” (by the end of which, one might hope, the person on the other end was sufficiently softened up to have modified the complexity of their request).

This all I said with something of a quaking heart.

“Our bus has broken down. Have you got room for 14 people, we will be arriving in 10 to 15 minutes,” said the urgent voice on the other end. Whaaaaat??? I held on to the phone for long enough to ascertain that he wasn’t joking, and for long enough after that to make a valiant attempt at fielding his request. Then I squeaked “Could you hold on for a minute please ……………… IREEEENE!!!!”

To say that the proverbial hit the fan would be an understatement. The necessary rooms had been left over to clean at Monday cleaning rates, in expectation of the usual quiet Sunday. The peace of our afternoon, such as it was, was tipped on its head.

In the next 10 minutes I learned how to strip and make a bed, with hospital corners, and (under the guidance of the amazingly competent Christine, who came rushing at 2 minutes’ notice to help out) how to set up a motel room looking fresh and inviting – times 6.

The busload of mine workers (the bus was stuck in 2nd gear) were arriving as we whizzed, much like Mr Sheen in the ‘70s ad, around the last room and popped out the door.

© Jane Grieve –

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