Chambermaid Follies

My computer files and folders are pretty well organized. My paper files are a mess. Once the folders get into the file drawers, they’re out of sight, out of mind, but plenty of stuff never gets there. Folders and unsorted papers are piled in a semi-permanent holding pattern on two of the file cabinets. A couple of days ago I was frantically excavating the piles in search of my most recent lease or a utility bill that had my street address on it.

Why was this so urgent? Because I’d finally jumped through all the required hoops to get re-enrolled in my state-subsidized health insurance plan — except one: I had to prove that I live at the address I’ve lived at for going on eight years. The Massachusetts Health Connector needed written evidence of what the town of West Tisbury, the state Office of Jury Commissioners, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles already know.

Well, I found what I was looking for — I have never been so glad to find my Comcast bill — and I also found something else. In a thin folder whose label had faded to near-illegibility, I found a document with this heading:

LCI lyrics head

From left: Ann Dunkley, me, and Maggie MacCarty, ca. 1990, on the front steps of the Lambert's Cove Inn. Ann was the office manager. She pinch-hit as a chambermaid as needed. Maggie doubled as a waitress. I was just a chambermaid, but I was pretty good at laundry.

From left: Ann Dunkley, me, and Maggie MacCarty, ca. 1990, on the front steps of the Lambert’s Cove Inn. Ann was the office manager. She pinch-hit as a chambermaid as needed. Maggie doubled as a waitress. I was just a chambermaid, but I was pretty good at laundry.

Oh boy, did that take me back! In the late 1980s and very early 1990s, I was a chambermaid at the Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury. The chambermaids were a wonderful crew, headed by our intrepid innkeeper, Marie Burnett. Every year Marie threw a Christmas party, and one year Maggie MacCarty and I wrote some songs for it. Our performance was a big hit. What I had found were the lyrics. They hold up pretty well after almost 25 years, so here they are.

A couple of notes: “Redo” was what we did to a room after guests had been there two nights. It was a full-bore cleaning and included changing the sheets. After one night what they got was a “freshen.” About “LCI – West Tisbury”: In Massachusetts, prisons are customarily referred to as MCI — for Massachusetts Correctional Institution — followed by a place-name. MCI – Framingham, MCI – Walpole, etc. LCI – West Tisbury was a natural.

P.S. With some effort, I’ve managed to remember the names of 14 of the Lambert’s Cove Inn’s 15 rooms as they were “back in the day.” The one I’m missing was on the second floor of the Barn, next to Loft. If you can jog my memory, please comment on this post!

(Tune: “Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho”)

Redo, redo,
That’s all we ever do —
Twelve rooms today
We’ll earn our pay —
It’s three o’clock,
We’re halfway through
Redo, redo . . . (etc.)

Our Favorite Things (A Few of Them Anyway)
(Tune: “My Favorite Things”)

Bras on the doorknob
And shorts on the lampshade,
Socks in the toilet
And condoms in ashtrays,
Wine bottles scattered all over the floor:
That’s what we find
When we open the door.

Hairdryers, toothpaste,
Some razors and brushes,
Toilet bowl leaking
From too many flushes,
Hair wads congealing in shower and sink
Trash in the brown bag
Is starting to stink.

BUT with our DuMaid
And our Soft-Scrub,
Rags and Lysol spray,
We spritz and we dust and we vac and we mop —
And pray that they go away!

Brunch in the Orchard
(Tune: “Jingle Bells”)

Jingle bells, burning smells,
Bread crumbs on the floor:
Brunch for 99 today,
No lunch for us till four.
Gather chairs, extension cords,
Buckets full of ice:
It’s hot and clear this morning,
Wouldn’t brunch outside be nice?

Dashing cross the lawn
With a platter full of eggs,
Dodging doggie poop
And models’ skinny legs,
Apples from the trees
Are falling in the juice,
Bumble bees have stung that man,
His face is turning puce, OH!

That was thunder,
Here comes rain:
Take your plates and run!
Brunch is over for this week,
And didn’t we have fun??

Owed to Marie
(Tune: “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”)

Marie, our washer’s broken
And the dryer’s on the fritz,
There’s ants in East and Greenhouse
And the guests are having fits!
The well went dry this morning
And the wedding starts at three —
Two hundred guests expected —
Marie, where will they pee?

The chef’s locked in the walk-in
And the power lines are down,
The cat puked on the rag doll
And the lawn is turning brown.
These things might seem disastrous
And drive us to suicide,
But Marie said fall is coming
And Marie has never lied!

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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7 Responses to Chambermaid Follies

  1. Luanne says:

    Hilarious! Happy holidays, Susanna.


  2. This is very funny and very good too. I did all sorts of jobs but never worked in a hotel. A very good friend of mine did. She would love your songs. Really great! Happy Holiday Season to you, Susanna.


  3. gail tipton says:

    Susanna, These are hysterical and remind me in a painful way of those horrid cleanups, especially in the bathroom … Could never understand how people could spread such a mess and walk away from it. However, we did have each other to laugh with, thank heavens. Marie should get a copy of these. Thanks. They’re worth an encore at some venue. gail


  4. Helen Green says:

    BLAST from the past. I remember when Maggie was working there, she had a lot of stories, but of course Maggie always has stories!


    • Isn’t it?? What a great group of people. I don’t know if Maggie is online — do you know? I wanted to send her a link.

      One of the songs refers to the time (one of the times!) the cable under Vineyard Sound broke and the whole island lost electricity. We really did have a wedding on. The kitchen without a/c was about the hottest place I’d ever been in my life.


  5. susankroupa says:

    What fun! There’s a reason I try to straighten the room before I leave it when I’m staying in a motel! I don’t want to be immortalized in song!


    • Motel guests tend to forget that “the help” are not only sentient but observant. It’s like you’re invisible. You learn stuff about people that probably their best friends don’t know. Great grist for writing stories and plays!


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