By: Caitlin Daire



“Schmoozing. That’s the word of the evening. Do you all know what it means?”

My boss Barbara stood at the front of the hotel kitchen, trying to command the attention of all the wait staff, kitchen hands and bartenders who worked at the Rosewood Hotel, myself included. She was a tall redhead with pinched features and perpetually pursed lips that made her look like she’d just sucked on a lemon-flavored cigarette, and my friend and coworker Ewan rolled his eyes to the ceiling and murmured to me and my other friend Tina.

“If she really knew anything about schmoozing, then why is she stuck in this shitty job in this shitty town?”

Tina stifled a giggle, and Barbara pursed her lips. “I heard that, Ewan. At least you’re listening to what I’m saying, which is more than what I can usually say about you. Anyway, as I was saying, tonight is a very special night.”

She put all her emphasis on the word ‘very’, her eyes narrowing as she surveyed the room and continued to drone on. “I expect you all to work as you usually do, but tonight you are allowed to spend more than the minimum amount of time interacting with the guests. I want you to talk this place up. Discuss its heritage, how much you love working here…I don’t care, just say whatever it takes to get them to write us some big fat checks. Got it?”

“Yes, Barbara,” we all said in unison before disbanding and heading off to our stations. Many eye rolls were shared between Ewan, Tina and me as we straightened our white shirts and made sure they were perfectly clean and ready to be seen by rich schmucks.

Being a waitress at the hotel wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t exactly my dream job, but if it paid my bills and left me with enough to eventually save up for my own place away from my grouchy alcoholic father, then it was good enough for now. Plus, I worked with some of my friends like Tina and Ewan, and very occasionally a kindly diner would leave a hefty tip.

Tonight was about more than hefty tips, though. The Rosewood had needed refurbishing for decades, but the owners couldn’t afford it for some reason or another, so instead of simply selling the place off to someone who could, they were holding a fundraising gala. Many prominent businessmen and women from around the country who were known for their philanthropy had been invited, and our job was to serve them as we usually would at an event like this, however this time we were allowed to chat with them and share our stories and knowledge of what a fantastic old building it was in the hopes it’d convince the wealthy patrons to fork out bucket-loads of cash.

Schmoozing, like Barbara said.

Truthfully, we’d all be lying through our teeth. The Rosewood was okay, but it was nothing special, and in our little town in southwestern Wisconsin, that was saying something. The exterior was drab and as boring as exposed brick, and the inside could have done with a spit and polish about a billion years ago considering the outdated décor and the permanent musky scent of dust in the air. It was more like a giant mausoleum than a hotel.

“Maybe I can nab myself a sexy millionaire boyfriend tonight,” Tina whispered as Barbara stalked around the room, inspecting our uniforms and making sure everything in the kitchen was prepped.

I grinned back at her. “That’d be nice.”

“Yeah, then I’d have a one-way ticket outta here…if this hellhole even had an airport,” she replied. “Eh, I guess it’s not that bad, though.”

I arched one eyebrow at her, and she laughed and gave me a rueful smile. “Okay, it is that bad. I think the last time something actually happened in Leyton was when Henry Rosewood was born. Or that business boom fifty years ago or whenever it was.”

Henry Rosewood had been the US President at some point back in the late 1800’s, and our tiny town’s only real claim to fame was that it was his birthplace. The hotel had been built and named in his honor, but as far as I knew he’d never even stayed here. Like most other people who’d made something of themselves, he’d hightailed it out of here and never bothered to return. Couldn’t say I blamed him, really. Like Tina said, nothing much happened out here in the sticks. I was surprised the hotel owners had even managed to convince one rich person to come to the fundraiser, let alone a hundred or so. I guess the heritage factor of the hotel made it seem like something worth saving.

Humming an old tune, I busied myself in the kitchen, racking up trays with canapés, plates and napkins while I waited for the gala to get started. Within the next hour, the hotel function room had transformed from the real-estate equivalent of an empty wasteland to a rip-roaring party, and I marveled as I walked around and served snacks to designer-clad men and women. I had to admit, the decorators had done an incredible job, and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.

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