Lookin' Good at 58

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Calamity Avoided

Back in 2006 I had just graduated earning my diploma with the International Sommelier Guild. I worked hard to get it with 5 intensive exams to pass with over a 60% grade. Essays to write , blind tastings , serving wine the proper way in front of judges , a tricky multiple choice , and a food and wine pairing exam to boot.

We were renting at the time and with a young family looked at this as an opportunity to settle somewhere with this diploma in my hand.

I came across this ad on the internet that required a fine dining waiter/sommelier postion to be filled at this resort in Lake Louise Alberta that had a Grand Award from the Wine Spectator. It was fine dining at the highest level.

Living in Ontario and moving to Alberta would require quite a move. After all it is two time zones away. In any case I applied to this job that was being posted nationwide. I sent in my best resume and wouldn't you know it I got a call.

I asked lots of questions like how much would I be making. I wanted to earn a fair bit cause working in Lake Louise would mean we would be living in Banff or Canmore which were good 35 - 45 minute drives. Plus the fact we had just one car and my wife would be working as well so there were a lot of things to consider. So the money aspect had to come into play. The interview process went along fine and when interviewed by the General Manager I asked him would I be making X amount of dollars? He said oh yes that would not be a problem.

He kind of ticked me off when he started calling places where I had worked including where I was employed at the time which I felt took a lot of nerve. I hadn't at that stage been offered the job yet.

In any case I got hired. I flew out there and they were going to put me up in their accomodation. My wife had to leave her job so she could stay home with the kids.

I flew out to Alberta which if I remember correctly was a Thursday.I grabbed the bus from Calgary to Banff then on another bus up to Lake Louise. It was May but it was cool. In the mountains it can snow in July.

Anyway I am on this bus to the hotel. It had been a while since I had traveled from Banff to Lake Louise but it seemed a lot longer than I remember. Maybe it was more than 40 minutes. I was getting a bit worried.

Finally I get there and check in with my new employer and am shown the way where the staff accomodations are located. I fill out the paperwork and due to start the next evening. I am a bit excited but anxious to start making some money.

There was the movers that were coming to pick up our stuff about 6 weeks later and my wife and kids would be coming out then. In the meantime I had to find a spot where we could live. But without wheels and only one bus a day back into town, finding a place to live wasn't going to be easy.

The first night at work I shadowed a waiter and to be brutally honest ran my butt off while he just sort of watched. I didn't get so much as a measly tip out.

So after that shift I am talking to the Dining Room Manager and seeing if I can get a small section to start making some money the next night. Then he says oh no you have to write some tests first before we can give you a section. It will be a week or two before we give you a section.

What!! Listen I said I could have gotten these tests before I arrived and written and passed them by now. I need to make some money.

Disillusioned to say the least the cruncher came in the staff cafeteria when I was asking one of the waiters what kind of money was to be made there. He gave me a number that was well below what I was told and to top it all off in the winter the road closes a lot between Banff and Lake Louise so some of the time I wouldn't be able to return home after the shift. What about if I needed to get home or the wife worked in the morning??

Well I could see this was a big mistake. I certainly did not take into account the weather problems that could result in me not getting home any given evening. I was lied to about the income and further more not much was considered when they hired me about how my family was going to adjust to the move.

I got on the phone quick and phoned a co-worker in the job I just left. They said they would hire me back. My wife's employer was set to take her back. I went into the office the next morning and said an emergency happened at home and needed to leave. I got on a plane back on the Sunday.

I was back in my old job Tuesday. Like nothing happened.

As it turned out we bought a townhouse a couple of months later and settled for good you could say. No more wild ideas!!

This kind of stuff is for single people living out of a suitcase. Sort of what I did for 10 years before I got married. I know one thing that the way things might have turned out would have been awful. All because I had my ego thinking and not my brains.

The moral of the story is if you find yourself in a bad spot and guilty of a bad decision you can just admit it and get the hell outta there.

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