Lookin' Good at 58

Monday, May 4, 2009

Start of A New Life

My blog on Monday for the last few months has been a chronological sequence of my job history in the hospitality industry since I took a bar tending course back in 1979 to where we are now which is March 10th , 1996. This is the day I left the cruise ship in Singapore where I spent a week touring around before heading to where I had this one room in Victoria , British Columbia on the west coast of Canada.

Pretty much since July of 1986 I have been working and traveling out of a suitcase and now at age 37 it was time to settle down and marry my love from Iceland. Having really only spent 1991 during those years in Canada holding down a job in Jasper , which by the way is like a cruise ship on land because all anyone does there is party and have fun and who cares what is happening elsewhere , I found myself ill prepared for what was about to happen.

For first of all I thought it would be pretty easy to find a good spot in a hotel or restaurant when I started to look for work. Not so , after being a Maitre'd on a cruise ship and Asst. F and B Manager in Switzerland especially , one would think people would be jumping at the chance to hire me for something. But alas , all this international experience did me really no good in my own country where unfortunately it is still about who you know more than what you know.

Maybe if I was 10 years younger and did all this then employers would be more inclined to hire me and move me up but it might have been my age that discouraged it. I am not sure. I remember one interview and job I had at a hotel called the Ocean Pointe in Victoria's inner harbour where I stayed and left after getting a tiny pay cheque after two weeks. During this interview I recall the F and B Manager talking to this department head saying I would never stay just because the money I was making on the ship was his and the other's combined take home pay.

That might have been another problem , that being on the ship I was making loads of money and to ween myself off of that was difficult. My wife who went to Hotel and Catering School in Iceland for 3 years has enormous knowledge on the industry and tons of experience but when she came to Canada she couldn't find a job if she tried in her chosen field and ended up in retail , and I might add became good at that as well.

Another reason was not only would I look for a management position and never find one but in my mind I couldn't justify making less than what a good waiter was making. I mean places in Europe where I was working the person with the most responsibility ( managers , supervisors ) made more money , but here in Canada the waiters and bartenders made the most who had the least responsibility. So what was the incentive?

I was getting married and at the time I lived in a room with a small kitchenette and a bathroom. It was so small that when anyone visited me from the ship like my good buddy Rene Papier from Germany , in order to go to the bathroom in the morning we had to put the sofa bed up so we could open the door to the bathroom! My bed was a Murphy bed that lifts into the wall. I mean this room was small.

So I had to reintegrate into society once again. I bought a car after not having one for the past 10 years. Applied for the provincial health care , opened up a bank account , got a phone and all that other stuff. Bought a tv and some essential stuff for a kitchen one takes for granted like a pot to cook in.

It is kind of ironic that the one job that I did find was run by an Austrian couple and was about 50 kilometres out of town in Malahat BC. It actually became a Relais Chateaux hotel that year and I at 37 was one of the youngest waiters there. In fact I was more like a food runner but a good one. This resort was pretty beautiful and expensive and has been featured in more than one magazine. You can check it out at http://www.aerie.ca

I worked there for about 6 months until it was Fall and they had to lay off a few people for a couple of months due to the slow season. I wasn't to happy about that so when they asked if they could count on me for the Christmas season I replied back that I wasn't so sure about that as unemployment was not enough to hang out and wait. I don't think they were to pleased about that and I have to admit I still had high aspirations after being a Maite'd on a cruise ship that I would land something better in the near future. Also I began this network marketing business that I shall talk about next week and had started a card vending machine business at the same time.

I was pretty determined to make things happen in my newlywed life.

The Aerie Resort was top class though. Long hours and back in the day when there was an elaborate wedding going on or a busy dinner service I remember we had to wash every glass by hand as the owners did not believe in glass washing machines so even though service would end , it wouldn't be for a couple of hours later that we would finally be driving home in our car. Big set ups to do for the next day also kept us pretty late.

When I was working there in August and we got married ( not there ) , I fought hard to get a week honeymoon as they only wanted to give me 2 days. I threatened to leave before they finally did give it to me but during that week off I heard they were trying to get a hold of me to come into work. Can you believe it?

My work at the Aerie lasted from about April to October then I was filing for unemployment. It was not a good time for me just because I was getting a bit discouraged with what I saw of the industry. There just wasn't a lot to choose from. Victoria was seasonal at the best of times. I was looking for something more consistent.

That was the reason I started looking at other opportunities.

From being a Maitre'd on the ship back in the mid 90's I would have to say my peak days in the industry were back then as far as income and position. What followed has been even more jobs and moves. In the next few Mondays I will gloss over some of those. My life has been anything but dull which is a good thing.

In summarizing the years between 1979 and 1996 I was pretty much live for the day sort of guy and it was traveling and experiences that was my game. From 1996 on life was different with the responsibility and all. But it was good because for how long can a person just wait on tables and travel and drink beer all the time? My life has been richer since.

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