Wednesday, February 17, 2010
A Twist Of Fate - 1993
I had it all figured out so to speak. I was going to take the Basic Course in Ottawa and January take the advanced course in London England. I even had the YMCA booked near the school in London and put down a deposit. I figured I could find a job easily in London and using the great public transportation system they had would have my choice as well where to work.
Finishing up the Basic course and passing quite nicely it was time to head to London. I was real excited. But there was something that came up that would totally put my plans on a different course.
My Mother worked at this lodge during the summer and someone who was high in position there was moving to England to this place called Ware in the county of Hertfordshire about an hour plus north of London. She had gotten a job with this golf course and her friend mentioned that why don't I apply where she works and she could get me in and I would be able to work in the kitchen and get some experience while taking the course and of course get paid for it as well. Also I would be able to help out in the dining room. I thought that might not be a bad idea.
So I spent the rest of the Christmas and New Year in London taking in the sights and going to a New Year's Day concert.
Arrangements were made and I was heading up to Ware a few days before school started. I was asked at the time to save some money and leave the YMCA early to head on up there. An interview had been set up and so I thought this was a done deal. I was staying at their place which I understood was okay with them until my staff accommodations were ready at this job.
The day of the interview my Mom's friend introduces me to the GM and we sit down. She leaves and it is just us two. I am anticipating something like start on Monday but oh no!!
He says we will not be doing any hiring till May. I am sitting there flabbergasted. WTF!!!
I fly out of the meeting hunting for this stupid bitch who said to me this was a no brainer. She says I am sorry. Christ is that it. I move from my confines at the Y as per your instruction only to come up here and there is no job. I phoned my Mother and asked her what kind of friend she thought she worked with at the lodge. I was livid as my money was not of the money tree variety.
Now I was more stuck up there than anything. The Y opportunity was gone and I spent time working on call with agencies doing menial banquet waiter work for a pittance. I finally had to take this job in a parts plant where I spent my time bending iron parts into shape. But the income I was making was not enough to cover the cost of going to school , lodging and eating.
As well , after a couple of weeks this nice person gave me the heave ho out of their place so I had to get a half board place where I paid for two meals a day. Breakfast and dinner. Ever take advances on your credit card at 2 1/2 to 1. Yes one pound was equal to $2.50. Made for some real good interest charges.
At the end I managed to pass the course but I was so broke I had to head back into waitering. I got a job as a head waiter at the Island Hotel on the Isles of Scilly. For those of you who have no idea where Tresco is located have a look. www.tresco.co.uk
It was a good place to save money and pay off the credit card cause there was nothing to do but drink and eat. It was an island and the only way you could get there was by helicopter or a seasick 3 hour ride on a supply ship. People's faces were usually colored green on arrival with open gaping mouths over the sides of the ship.
My saving grace out of it all was the ship I used to work on use to visit the island. On a visit I saw my former co-workers and they were surprised to see me working at such a remote place. They asked me why don't I head back to the ships. I think it was the next day I phoned Fort Lauderdale and they put me on a ship for November out of Antigua.
I worked on Tresco for about 5 months before that credit card was paid off and I had saved a bit of money to holiday before flying back to Canada.
Looking back I can laugh at it now and say I saw the island of Tresco and St. Marys but it was kind of bad how that all turned out. Just on a recommendation on a job that never was there 3,000 miles away. I had budgeted everything out to get me through but I should have stayed at the YMCA in London that I originally planned.
I know everything happens for a reason and it was an ironic twist of fate that landed me back on the ships again. All because of a promised job that never existed in the first place.
Everything happens for a reason. We just never know it at the time.
Radio talk show host of "The Hospitality Industry News Network" and author of "You Only Live Once" about his early years traveling around and working on ships and foreign countries Steven blogs about his thoughts on the restaurant industry as he sees it today.
Check out his web site at www.stevennicolle.com for more information.