No Room at the Inn
From the Pierce's Inn GOOD VIBES AND DUCT TAPE collection of stories
Interesting guests and odd
experiences that occurred at Pierce’s Inn inspired me to start keeping a list
starting when I was in third grade. During those early years, my parents were
hesitant to acknowledge anything odd or interesting when I shared my observations
about our lives as innkeepers. Because it was their new job and lifestyle, they
were eager to make it all seem normal. Owners of inns, hotels and motels shared
an unspoken rule: What happens under your roof stays under your roof. This was considered
job security for my parents and a comic feast for me.
The very parents and siblings
who marinated me in storytelling and encouraged me to develop keen observation
skills were suddenly asking me to put on blinders. I disobeyed and kept adding
to the list. My older siblings understood that their college tuition depended
on the success of Pierce’s Inn, so they wisely supported my parents’ respectful
denial even when things went off the rails. Because I was unaware of the
realities of making ends meet and trying to make sense of what unfolded on a
daily basis right in my own house, I made it my business to pay attention.
Occasionally, one of my older
siblings would fall out of rank and acknowledge the humor or nuttiness of a situation. My rotating collection of sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law were quite
helpful providing perspective of what unfolded in the
family and with the guests. Their
acknowledgement of some fascinating tidbits confirmed that keeping a record was
a worthy pursuit. In fact, my former brother-in-law who saw it all from the
beginning suggested it was time to get some of these stories written down and shared.
My original list is not accessible, but versions of it have made it along through some memory boxes to reach my writing files, journal and comic storytelling on stage. Even when I went off to college, I paid close attention to the stories before they were swept under the rug. By the time we were all adults, everyone was more willing to acknowledge the truth of it all. I decided if I every wrote a book about Pierce’s Inn, I would title it, Good Vibes and Duct Tape because my parents mustered some serious magic to hold the place and the business together over the years.
Reg and Nance sending off the guests after a big weekend at Pierce's Inn
One night we hosted a large party. After dinner, a very
drunk man burst into the kitchen to ask if he could rent a room for the night.
My mom explained that every room was rented, but he was persistent. While
directing a kitchen full of servers attempting to serve dessert and get the
dishes done around this large, insistent man, my mom repeatedly made it clear
that there was no room at the Inn. He would not leave the kitchen and was
relentless in his pursuit of any nook or cranny she would rent.
In a huff of annoyance with a
side of snarky humor, my mother told the man that the only space available in
the whole Inn was a storage closet. Without even seeing the closet, he joyously
claimed it for the night. The “Long Room” closet was at an all-time low of
disrepair. The cracked and caving floor let in cold air as well as a waft of earthy mildew. The
sagging shelves were bursting with old cleats, baseball bats, winter clothes,
boots and stacks of rejected mustard-colored tablecloths and holy sheets. My
dad prepared for the apocalypse by keeping every frayed towel, pair of ski
boots, holy sheet and can of old paint just in case. All of these items were
precariously stored in the Long Room.
Despite the musty smell and excessively
cluttered space fully revealed on the tour of the space, the drunk man promptly offered my mom
twenty bucks for a night in the Long Room. She and my sister-in-law thought it
was so outrageously funny that they invested energy and time to find an old mattress. They threw
on some old sheets, found a marginal pillow and topped it off with an
allergy-inspiring wool blanket (known as a Civil War blanket among my nephews
When this man emerged from
the hovel in a somewhat sober state the next morning, he and my mom had some
big laughs recounting the sequence of events that led to her renting him the most
compromised bed situation in the history of Pierce’s Inn. He described being
confused when he woke up to find a power saw and a staple gun inches from his
face. He found it even more baffling when he rolled over and found excessive linen storage and a huge supply of sports equipment dangling off the sketchy shelves. When he finally found his
bearings, he stumbled back to the kitchen to find my mom with a formal
bill for $20. He actually paid her. He declined her offer of breakfast because
he didn’t feel quite up to a meal, but he gladly accepted a cup of coffee on the
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