Today is the day I came to Denmark, 50 years ago. I worked as a chambermaid in Copenhagen, I started to write about my experiences in June, 2018. If you would like to read more, check out the bottom of the page and find out what it is like to be a chambermaid in Copenhagen 50 years ago.
There are many kinds of beets- not all of them are red, but also yellow, white and striped. They are filled with fiber, C-vitamin and iron. We can get them fresh from August and until the frost sets in October or November. Beets can be cooked, grated, made to juice and preserved. We usually eat the root, but the leaves taste also good in a salad. This is a salad we eat a lot at this time of the year.
Golden and Red Beet Salad
6 salad servings or side dish
4 tbsp. hazelnuts, divided
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. hazelnut oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 peeled medium golden beets
1 peeled small turnip
1 peeled carrot
2 peeled red apples, halved and cored
2 peeled medium red beets, with leaves
2 tbsp. coarsely chopped parsley
To make the dressing, crush 2 tbsp. hazelnuts; place in a small bowl. Whisk oils and vinegar in and season dressing to
taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
To make the salad, thinly slice golden beets, turnip, carrot and apples using a mandolin. Place them in a large bowl
together with parsley. Slice red beets last and place in a small bowl.
To serve, place 2-3 red beet leaves on a platter. Spoon 3 tbsp. of dressing over red beet slices in the small bowl; pour
remaining dressing over vegetables in medium bowl. Toss to coat each. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange red beets
on top of the leaves; spoon over any dressing from bowl. Top red beets with remaining vegetables. Garnish with
Working as a chambermaid in Copenhagen
”Sandy, I think the paymaster has made a mistake,” I said as I counted my money.
“What do you mean?” Sandy said as she dumped her money out on the table. She crumpled the brown paper bag and threw it in the wastebasket.
“We’ve been working six and seven days a week the past month, and as far as I can see, there is not more money than usual.”
“Ja, you are right. We get five crowns an hour, forty hours a week. That’s two hundred crowns and then some for our lunch. We’ve often been asked to stay later than normal.”
“The way I see it, we should get time and a half for the extra hours we work on weekdays. That would be seven crowns and fifty øre for the extra two hours we worked last Friday and Saturday. And when we worked on Sunday, we should get ten crowns an hour for working the seventh day.”
“Here comes the housekeeper, Fru Holm. I’ll ask her why there isn’t more money in our paychecks.”
“Fru Holm, why don’t we get more money for the past two weeks? Both Sandy and I have been working overtime and don’t seem to have more money than usual,” I said as Fru Holm approached us.
“Hvabehar?” she said in Danish, not looking at us.
“Fru Holm, speak English. Why aren’t we getting paid for the extra hours we’ve been working?” I repeated. Fru Holm had a blank look on her face. Suddenly she didn’t understand a word I was saying.
“I no understand,” she said as she straightens the linens in the closet.
“Fru Holm,” I said and held up my little brown bag with the money in it in front of her face “Penge, money, ikke nok, not enough,” I said both in English and Danish, over-enunciating every word.
“I no understand English,” she called over her shoulder as she raced off.
“That does it,” I said to Sandy. “I am going to talk to the boss himself.”
“You don’t mean that,” Sandy said as she ran after me. “He is a millionaire. In addition to this hotel, Simon Spies owns lots of other buildings. He owns the largest travel agency in Denmark, and he owns an airline. Besides, you don’t even know where he is.”
“Yes, I do. I saw a limousine drive up this morning, and I saw him come into the building this morning. He has a penthouse apartment on top to this building. Maybe he is still here.”
“Are you going up there now?”
“Yeah, why not? Fru Holm pretends she doesn’t understand what I am saying. Who else can I talk too? The porter? The receptionist?”
Sandy shook her head as she disappeared into the changing room. “Good luck! See you at home.”
Making sure the housekeeper didn’t see me, I marched down the hall to the elevator and rode to the top floor. My heart was beating like crazy. I knocked on the door with an authority of a person who knew what they were doing, which I didn’t. I waited a few minutes and thinking no one was coming; I turned to go. The door opened slightly, and I could see a little, bearded man scowling at me. I recognized him from the newspapers. He was always having huge, sex parties in his penthouse apartment right here in the hotel. I was expecting a maid or even a butler, but not the owner himself. Surprised to see Simon Spies standing there in the door, I fell silent. He took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes as if better to see me.
“Well, what is it?” he said in a nasty tone. “What do you want? My rooms have already been cleaned. Go away,” he said as he started to close the door.
“Wait,” I stammered “my name is Lynn Miller, and I work here as a chambermaid.” Looking down, I dried my sweaty palms on my uniform.
“I can see that. What do you want?” He sounded faintly amused.
I explained my problem, and he seemed to listen.
“I’ll see what I can do,” he barked a dismissal and slammed the door in my face.
When I arrived at the YWCA Sandy was sitting on the bed reading a letter.
“Did you get mail from home?” I asked as I hung my coat on the back of the door. “Wait till you hear what happened,” I said excitedly.
Sandy wasn’t listening. She waved the letter at me. “We have to move. Well, you have to move. The YMCA knows that we are two living here, and they want us to leave by the end of the month.”
“What?” I grabbed the letter and read. I let the paper drop to the floor as I sank onto the bed. “Where am I going to live now?”
“Sorry, can’t help you. I am leaving at the end of the month to travel around Europe with some friends. Can’t you live with Jesper and his mom?” Sandy said trying to be helpful. “Or, why don’t you quit now instead of in May and take that trip you have been talking about so long?”
Jesper came a few hours later, and we talked about what I should do. He looked at my paycheck, and we agreed that already the next day we would go to the hotel and restaurant union, Horesta, and try to get some money for my overtime. I had been forced to join the union when I came to Denmark, and now maybe they could help Sandy, and I get our money. As for a getting me a new room, Jesper promised to think of something.
I bought a ticket to Greece and gave my notice at work. I won my case with the union and got enough money to buy a new spring overcoat.
Work was awful. Nobody talked about my little trip to the penthouse apartment, but I felt the wrath of my higher-ups. Business was slow, and the housekeeper ordered me to clean the walls, the ceilings, the rugs, everything. They treated me like a slave, but that was okay, I was leaving in a few days and spent the last few days of work goofing off when nobody was around or checking up on me.