It's Christmas Day, but someone has to do it.
Someone has to ringthe register at the convenience store, take the airport parking fees, man the hotel desk. For sure, it's not a Dickens Christmas, where even Bob Cratchit had the whole day off.
But those who worked while the world rested maintained the spiritof the day, many buoyed by thoughts of overtime pay and late afternoon dinners with family.
"I volunteered, believe it or not," said Renee Olah, who pulled the 9 a.m.-to-1 p.m. shift behind the cash register at Fishpaw's Liquors on Ritchie Highway in Arnold. "It's a shorter shift and you get the extra pay. So it's worth my while."
She said she worked last Christmas Day at Fishpaw's and three Christmases in a row before that on other jobs. She has no children to spend the holiday with, not yet anyway. She is nine months pregnant and due "any time."
At about 10 yesterday morning, she was serving a steady stream of customers, ringing up whiskey, beer, chips, newspapers and cigarettes. The store was getting some spillover from the 7-Eleven across Ritchie Highway, which was closed for the day.
North on Ritchie Highway, Kevin Kuhl was holding down the fort alone at the Hampton Inn in Glen Burnie. He had sent the two housekeepers home after an hour's work Christmas morning. He and his dog, Peace, an American Eskimo spitz, had the run of the place.
"I'm the manager: I give everybody the day off," said Kuhl, who moved to Maryland from Dallas in March. He said he worked for Hampton Inn in Dallas for three years and always worked Christmas Day there.
He was playing host to guests injust 12 of 116 rooms, including a family burned out of their Glen Burnie apartment Christmas morning. Nothing stirred in the lobby, wherea television tuned to the Arts & Entertainment Network flashed images of a red-robed choir singing Christmas hymns. The parking lot held a half-dozen cars.
"It's been really dull," Kuhl said. "I just went out and fed the sea gulls."
Perhaps the busiest place in the county yesterday was Baltimore-Washington International Airport.
Monitors displaying flight information showed a reduced schedule of arrivals and departures, but support services, including security, were fully staffed, said Bill Freitag, assistant airport operations manager.
American Airlines ticket agent Dorothy Fish of Arbutus said she had agreed to work for a colleague, who had thanked her with a bottle of wine and $25 in cash. She would also get holiday pay from the airline.
Another ticket agent, who asked not to be named, said she volunteered to work because "I don't have any children. I thought it would be better to let people with children have it off."
At the airport parking garage exit, four toll booths were staffed. Steve Mone ofGlen Burnie said traffic had "picked up this afternoon, but it's been kind of slow."
He said he worked yesterday simply because he wasscheduled to work. He said he found the double-time pay certainly lightened the load of holiday work.
"The only thing I don't like is I couldn't spend the day with my fiancee," Mone said. "She's spendingthe day with her parents in Gettysburg."
But he spent Christmas Eve with her and was joining his parents for holiday dinner after he got off work at 3 p.m. Last year, he said, he worked the 3-to-11 p.m. shift Christmas Day.
"This is much better than the late shift," hesaid.
Elfreda Johnson, management receptionist for the firm that manages the parking lots, was planning to drive down to her sister's home in Charles County for Christmas dinner. Like Mone, she said she worked because the schedule demanded it.
"I love it, I love it, can't you tell?" Johnson said. She smiled when she said that, sitting in the office with a view of the row of cashier booths at the new parking garage exit.
"I don't mind," she said. "You do what you have to do. It's not the first time I've worked Christmas."