One thing CityView Condominium doorperson Maureen Chacon-Batts has learned by traveling the world is that there is no place on earth she would rather be than Chicago.
Born and raised in the Caribbean double-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago, Chacon-Batts moved with her family to the suburbs of Chicago upon completing high school. After settling in Evanston and overcoming the initial shock of her first winter, she started a career in the travel industry, working first for British Airways and then for Delta Airlines.
The perks of those jobs allowed her to visit places such as India, Africa, Hong Kong, Egypt, Israel and Brazil. “It was phenomenal,” she said. “I guess I was lucky.”
Evidently, her employers felt the same way. Both companies offered her the opportunity to stay on when they closed the Chicago reservation offices where she worked. But there was one catch: she would have to move.
“I didn’t want to relocate because I love Chicago,” she said. “I feel like this is my country.”
The knowledge and experience Chacon-Batts gained with the airlines helped her land a new position on the information side of Galileo, one of the original computer reservations services. She remained there until the department closed a decade later, and then accepted a front desk position at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport. She advanced to supervisor within a few years, but something gave her pause.
“It was a great place, but for me it was more about being happy and liking what I do,” she said. “I gave them two weeks notice. They begged me to stay another two weeks. Then I left and went to a company that made collectible toys.”
Chacon-Batts later took the advice of a coworker and applied for her current position at CityView Condominiums.
“I came in and interviewed for the job, and lo and behold they offered it to me,” she said.
The CityView residents not only make it “easy to smile” while she’s on the job, but they also make it fun to perfect her skills.
“I do name associations to remember everyone,” she explained. “If someone’s name is Meghan, for example, I think of Meghan Markle. If someone’s name is Harry, I think Prince Harry.”
Chacon-Batts also satisfies her taste for international flavor by cooking Caribbean dishes like Feijoada, the Brazilian black bean stew. And when she’s not at work or in the kitchen, she turns to reading. Her current recommendations include The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, a true story about the unauthorized appropriation of Henrietta Lacks’ stem cells, which have become essential tools in modern medicine.