Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, January 12, 2009

Head West Young Man

Last Monday on my job history I left you during the Spring of 1983 when I was living in a room in North York , bartending at a private club , and concerned about how I will pay for my car insurance renewal. Also my job history was lousy and during the recession there wasn't many jobs to switch to anyway. During the previous year I had tried sales on a commission basis and although I made a few successful sale closures my savings was depleted after a short time.

So one day I chanced upon an ad looking for a head waiter in a dining room that was opening up for the season in May. Why not I thought , a change was what I needed since I was going nowhere in Toronto and this opportunity was a seasonal position with accomodation which would allow me to save up some money and decide what I was going to do after.

It was a place located halfway on the Banff - Jasper Icefields Parkway called the Saskatchewan River Crossing which was a hotel with a nice dining room plus another restaurant in the front which catered to the hordes of tourists that passed through on bus and stopped for lunch.

Getting a bit ahead of myself I applied by mail which was the thing to do in those days ( remember ) and about a week later got a call from the DR Manager asking me if I would like to have the job and would I be available to start work mid - May. Without hesitation I jumped on it and sold the car , gave a month notice where I lived and was winging my way out to Calgary.

What a spot it was for a city slicker like myself. I remember going for a bit of a walk on a trail nearby and while doing so noticed in front of me a goat. Well I looked at the goat and it looked back and it was not moving out of the way at all. All of a sudden more goats arrived until there was about 15 of them. Suddenly realizing walking through them all was not a good idea I backed up slowly and they started walking toward me. I got a bit scared. Yea right like a goat is not like a bear. They would have probably done no harm but here I was running away from them now and they started running faster toward me! Just as I got near the hotel they veered off somewhere else. Wow what an outdoorsman I was! The story drew a lot of laughs from the others I was working with for sure.

Another few things I remember most was that at the time Ted Turner started a cable station out of Atlanta via satellite and because we were so isolated that was the only TV station we could get in the middle of nowhere. The only way someone could call us was by radio operator as there was no phone lines as such. It was cold too. It snowed on July 1st , Canada Day.

So all we did was work and go for hikes and of course party. When I did have a day off I took the same tour bus and visited the town of Jasper to stay overnight and come back the next day. I went on the Columbian Icefields tour as well where you could walk on a glacier.

Working in the restaurant was a lot of fun too but the tourists use to make me laugh sometimes. I remember one asking if that was real snow up in the mountains. Ahem , yes it really is.

I stayed till near September when things began to die down and headed back not to Toronto this time but to Montreal to stay with my Mom to see what I was going to do next. But that ad I answered in the paper for the job out West really helped clear my mind.

They say sometimes to stick things out till they get better somewhere but in this case for me getting away was the best thing I could do for myself at the time. Definitely working at The Crossing was a good thing to do and is an experience I will never forget.

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