Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jasper 1991

Continuing my job history and following that horrific year of 1990 I jumped on a bus from Toronto to Calgary just after New Year's Day to go to a job interview in Field BC with this Emerald Lake Lodge. I remember how freakin' cold it was! In Saskatoon we arrived early in the morning and had a shower at the bus station during our hour's stop and upon departing I engaged myself in a conversation with the bus driver saying it was freezing. He replied back with , "yeah but it is getting warmer today, it is going up to -32C."

Finally after about 48 hours on a bus I get to Field BC which only has a store and restaurant on the Trans Canada and the Lodge is too far to walk so I give them a call to say I have arrived can they pick me up. Yes they can but it will be a while , perhaps an hour before they can get to me. Okay I will wait. I have my 3 items of luggage with me and I am just waiting.

So I get to the Lodge finally and apply to this job as Assistant Something or other , a position I was well equiped to do. The interview goes fine then the guy says well I have some other interviews to do and will let me know. WTF! Okay bozo , thanks a lot! I have just gotten off a bus from Toronto and now you tell me that you have other interviews to do. So I ask ,"what else do you need to know to make a decision as to hiring myself?"

Well that didn't get far so my next problem was Field BC. No accomodations and the last bus of the day has departed. Listen I will make you a deal cause I have a problem now I tell him. Let me sleep the night in your accomodations and I will be gone in the morning. Alright he says so I make my way in the deep freakin' snow exhausted and a bit pissed off you can say. That is the last I see of that guy.

The next day I am off to Banff on the bus and the Job Centre looking for jobs. I call my stepmother to see if there were any calls for me regarding the resumes I sent out. Yes there was someone who called from Mountain Park Lodges in Jasper by the name of Ray Lovell who is trying to track you down as he has a job for you. She gives me the number , I call him and he says yea come on up. You see the previous summer I worked at the Lobstick Lodge during the breakfast and he knew me. Off I go hitchhiking up the Icefields Parkway with the temperature about -25C. I must have looked funny with my bags and only my shoes and dressed up for an interview.

I get to Jasper , talk to Ray , start the next day , find a room in a house all very quickly. If 1990 was a bad year the opposite was true for 1991. It was fantastic as I saved lots of money and basically working in Jasper is stress free. The total population is 3,000 but there were 25,000 tourists that passed through each day during the summer. Mountains and lakes and animals were all over the place. In the Fall when the traffic died down the elk were all over the place. You had to avoid them more than they you. Mountain bike riding and the going out every night to the dance club after work was all I did.

My daily schedule was work breakfast at the Lobstick and work the evening at another place called the Pallisade Restaurant owned by a Greek. Restaurants owned by Greeks always seem to make money and this guy knew what he was doing for sure. I had to work for him starting at 4 but he wouldn't pay me till 4:30 the guy. So each day I would work for a 1/2 hour vacuuming and setting up the Dining Room for the service. Surprisingly there are a lot of Greeks who live in Jasper , for what reason on how they got there escapes me.

The three restaurants I worked at while I was there were the Lobstick Lodge for breakfast and the Palisade at night. During the summer I eventually got sick of the breakfast and left the Lobstick to work the evenings only and enjoy the days outside. I did try Mama Mia restaurant for a while at lunch but didn't like it too much.

In November the Palisades closed till March. It is an option some private restaurant owners take as it isn't worth staying open for the meagre crowds you get during the winter.

But while there I talked to a few waiters who would be going to work in the Cayman Islands. They would work there in the winter and in Jasper in the summer. I thought that would be really cool so I hooked myself up to a job in the Cayman beginning December 1st. I waited before booking my flight which they were going to remimburse and also some letter saying I was going there for employment. It was coming near the end of November and I was wondering what was going on so I gave them a call only to be told the recession ( remember that one? ) had cancelled a lot of bookings and they would not require my services. So there went the Cayman.

So I spent some time drinking in the bars around town. I had no work and no one was hiring so I thought maybe checking out the cruise ships again wouldn't be a bad idea. Knowing what I had experienced on the SS Norway back in 86 I didn't want to work on a big ship but a smaller one instead. I selectively chose a few to work on.

About 10 days later I get this call. " Hey Steven , do you remember me? It's Stephen Peter calling from Switzerland and I interviewed you for our first ship with Renaissance Cruises." I remembered him instantly and we talked a while with me asking all the questions about staff meals and accomodations etc.. You see when I was in Switzerland back in 89 I did go to one job interview for a new cruise line and this was it. The guy remembered me well , thank heavens!

Renaissance 7 was being built in Marina di Carrara Italy and I was going to be a waiter on the ship. The first cruise was going to be in February but before that we were going to be in Monte Carlo for 10 days loading. Would I like that! Yes sure but how do I get there I asked. They were flying me to Pisa via London. In a few days there would be a contract to sign and the tickets arriving via DHL. I actually come to think of it remember using a hotel fax machine to receive and send back the contract.

So there you go. About a year after arriving in Jasper now I was heading to Italy to be on Regina Renaissance where it was was being built , loaded in Monte Carlo , then off to the Red Sea for 10 day cruises.

Next week I will cover quickly what transpired over the next 4 years.

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