When I was almost 16, I worked at a local hotel along with my parents. At the time, it was a large chain motel that by guessing at the interior, was built in the mid-60s. So, by the time I started working there in the late 70s, it was just starting to see the thread-born marks of age.
But, it's where I tried to find my way through "my wonder years". I kind of smirk at that analogy, because I may have been a female version of Fred Savage's character from the show of the same name, the supporting cast was, well...many of the kids I went to school with, either hung out at friends, went to the movies, went necking in the cornfields, or just hung out with a case of beer.
I hung out at a hotel. And the people there, I considered "friends". Or at least "acquaintances". Regardless, I liked most people there and I felt I was a part of something. I didn't feel like I was trying to fit with with a bunch of kids that had nothing better to do than to come up with a new put down that would unfortunately stick with me for the next few months.
I worked in the kitchen, and had the pleasure of working with my dad. If it weren't for him, I'm sure I would not have lasted a week bussing tables, especially the night I knocked a whole tray of flowered-filled vases off a cart as I was removing them from the cooler...which was right outside my bosses' office...with him sitting at his desk. He liked my dad, and admitted that he just didn't have the heart to fire me, let alone yell at me. He just hid behind his newspaper as glass shrapnel flew. When I was older and started cooking (which was weird, because I HATE to cook) I learned a lot, too. I learned that it's really fun to have live lobster fights with your Dad. I learned if you drop a knife, don't try to catch it. I also learned in the Summer it is not smart to lay out at the hotel pool all day, then work the dinner shift in a hot kitchen. Heat stroke is not a good thing.
I came across people I never would have if I hadn't worked there. And I was fascinated by them. Like an exotic dancer with a jewel embedded in her forehead, and when she laughed, she sounded just like a witch. Truck drivers who hauled explosives for a living, and when they weren't hauling, they were sitting at the bar, expounding on their view of life, dangerous as it was (I'm sure they thought it was a turn on. I guess nothing says "sex" like, "I might not be here tomorrow, babe"). Bored businessmen who just wanted someone to talk to...even if that person was under the age for anything that might even cross their minds. I guess I just had that "buddy" vibe about me. Okay, I wasn't so fascinated by the bored businessmen...but they were an interesting study in the human condition.
Holiday parties were always interesting. If one got plastered (which, unfortunately at that time in life for me was the only reason I drank), no one had to worry about driving home.
I got away with a lot, working there. And, yes, my parents knew. They were there. Their attitude was, they rather have me drink with them, than to have me drink at a friend's house. But, outside of that place, I had no friends. I'd go back to school, or later my day job the next Monday, sometimes Tuesday, depending on how bad the hangover was, and I was no longer that person who worked at that hotel up on the hill. In fact, I really doubt anyone knew I worked there...or cared, for that matter.
All my silly crushes I had, I had at work. Of course, all of them unrequited. I never got along well with people my age. I'm not saying that in a haughty way, it was just the way I was. Anyway, kids my age never did like me. Honestly, I don't think I really wanted them to.
Looking back at those years, I realized what a noob, dweeb, dork I was. A hotel was a very odd place to figure out the rules in life. It was like one big dysfunctional microcosm of life, so I guess I fit in just fine with all my dorkiness. It's not like working in a factory (did that for awhile, too). I mean, there's drinking and partying and beds and eating and beds and flirting and beds and cute guys and beds and strippers and...anyway...it surprises me at the things I didn't do during those years in my life, especially having to do with beds. I think having my parents working there kept me on the relative up and up and the fact I probably had this neon sign hovering over my head that stated, "Her dad has knives in the kitchen, and he knows how to use them", didn't hurt, either.
I quit working there after I met the man I knew would be my husband, back when I was 19. Him, I met on a blind date. Another thing I did learn working at a hotel was marriage material was not going to be found at a bar.
So, where am I going with all this? Where I "grew up" is being raised to the ground as I type. One more landmark of my life is no more in a visual sense. Every school I went to as a child is either no longer, or now are old brick pigeon roosts. My high school is now a grade school.
I guess it's just a case of being in the place in life where I point at many empty lots and say, "That's where I used to _______". At least I can drive past my home of my childhood, point and say, "That's where I used to live...and there's my Dad right there. Let's go stop and visit! Yeah, so, he's sharpening his knives..."