CM Chronicles – II – 8/2/07

After packing up everything I could fit into two duffel bags and a bit of panicked frustration when two days before my flight, I had yet to receive my plane tickets, I was off to the airport. I am not, have never been, nor ever will be a fan of flying. I do believe it’s because I have control issues. But, this new adventure was waiting on the other side of the flying tin can ride.

I had researched this Club Med place and the place I was going in particular. It looked so pretty on the website and there was so much to do. I could learn to sail, waterski, rollerblade, play tennis, or fly on the trapeze. The trapeze?!?! The thrill-seeker in me couldn’t wait to try that one out.

Club Med, Sandpiper is located in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, otherwise known as ‘God’s waiting room’. The closest airport is West Palm Beach at a 45 minute drive, next is Fort Liquordale at about an hour and 15 minutes, and then Cuba Miami International at a smidge over 2 hours depending on traffic which means 3 hours. In their infinite wisdom, where do they fly me into? Of course, Miami. So now after I’ve sat on a plane for what seems like forever, I now have to sit in a car for 3 hours while the driver feels that he must talk to me. (What a sign of things to come.) At least, though, upon my arrival at the airport, my driver was right there to help with my bags and I had to do no looking around in a state of confusion.

My flight landed around 6pm, so that put me in CMS (henceforth known as “the village”) at a bit after 9. By the time I got my bags to my room and changed clothes, because there’s nothing I hate more than having other people’s dirt all over me, unless it involves sex, but that’s another story, dinner was long over. I ventured out of my room and over to the bar because that seemed to be where all of the action was.

In the new crew of bartenders, I was the last to arrive. The others were already in the bar partying on down. The chef du bar (bar manager), Stephan, came and introduced himself. We chatted briefly, he asked if I had had dinner and on my no response, offered me the only thing there was: bar pizza. Yep, it was gross, but when you’re hungry, you’re hungry. Some of my fellow noobs came over and introduced themselves. They appeared to be hammered. Now, by no means am I an angel, and at home, I would’ve proceeded to join them in getting hammered, but I’m a little older, maybe a little wiser than my cohorts and so I decide to head back to my room. Besides, our training starts bright and early tomorrow.

Next time: This is training?

CM Chronicles – I – 8/1/07

If you read my blog, you know that I’m long-winded. These chronicles are just a rehashing of parts of my four years at Club Med. They may contain swearing, sex, or otherwise possibly offensive things so consider yourself warned. They also may be chronically boring to you, dear reader, and for that, I apologize but the reality is that it’s my blog and I’ll write about my boring life if I want to.

Back in the early spring of 2000, I had recently moved back to PA after living in NY for a couple of years. I was fortunate enough to still have a place to live in PA – the house I grew up in. At that time, my brother was still living in the house where he had, apparently, been living the high life, throwing parties and such. I was a wet blanket on the festivities. Not that I didn’t enjoy my fair share of partying, but he was accustomed to having the house to himself without me there to bug him or his friends.

I picked up a bartending job and life was good, or life was good for me. I don’t think to this day he’d admit it, but in the way little brothers do, he wanted me out of the house. As it was, I didn’t spend tons of time in the house. I did what I could to catch up with friends and make some new ones. I only worked a couple days a week since my bills were few. (man, that was the life.) The rest of my time I spent just doing random stuff like ripping wallpaper off the wall and repainting the walls a ridiculous color. I was constantly looking for a new job because, well, that’s just my nature. To this day I can’t help but to browse the want ads just to see what’s out there.

One particular afternoon, I’d have to say that this was in April or so, my brother saw an ad and he showed it to me. He said, “Hey, you’d probably be good at this”. I don’t recall the exact wording of the ad, but the gist of it was ‘be a bartender, travel, see exotic locations’. I figured that I had nothing to lose, so I gathered up my resume and a photo and sent everything on its merry way. In the waiting for a response period, I did some research into this Club Med place and found that it seemed pretty cool. I got excited about it. But then days passed, weeks passed, and my Club Med dreams slipped way into the back of my mind. I had other more pressing matters such as going to see my favorite band play and heading out to the bingo hall. Yes, you read that properly. Bingo. BINGO! I swear to you that the old ladies hated seeing me in there and hated when I won. Never did I have fear though, since not a one of them could catch me in a foot race.

Around September, I believe, I received a phone call. It was a Friday and the answering machine said the message was left at about 5 pm. I didn’t hear the message until probably Saturday as I was working (and partying) on Friday night. A thick French accent directed me to give him a call if I was still interested in working for Club Med. (Looking back on this, I feel special. A lot of people told stories of jumping through major hoops before hearing from CM.) The old excitement monster stirred in the pits of my tummy, but it was Saturday and there was tons to be done.

Monday afternoon rolled around before I remembered that I needed to make that phone call. I found a quiet corner of the house and gave them a call. What I got was basically a phone interview. Typically, you’d be warned about something of this nature so you could at least be prepared, but no, not this time. I worked my way through the interview and at the end, I was told that the next step would be a face-to-face interview. For that, I could either go to North Carolina or to New York. Oh, by the way, they aren’t paying. I told him that either of those was a minimum of an 8 hour drive for me. He responded with “Oh, you don’t want the job?” I took that to mean I went to the interview or it was all over before it began. I told him I’d go to New York. He gave my the contact’s info and that was that.

Luckily, my very good friend was living in the Philly area at the time so I drove over to Philly and stayed with her for the weekend. My interview was on a Saturday and took place in a Starbucks. I kid you not. It was all very laid back with very few questions about my actual bartending knowledge. A better way to describe what took place was this recruiter explaining the CM lifestyle to me like I already had the job. I guess it lasted about an hour and I was once again on my merry way.

I returned to the western side of the state late on Sunday. I thought to myself that a follow-up call on Wednesday was good enough timing. I didn’t have to wait that long. Monday afternoon the phone call came. They offered me the position and asked when I could leave. I was still employed, albeit in a bar and under the table, but I still wanted to give my boss some sort of notice. I told him two weeks. He answered with, “Ok, we’ll send you a ticket for Sunday”. Umm, Sunday?!?! I guess in France 6 days equals 2 weeks.

I immediately gave my boss all the notice I could. He wasn’t upset. He was actually happy and quite excited for me. Some of my friends were a little bummed that I was leaving, but some of the people that I had met over the time that I was home and their actions (you Grimey bastard) pushed me in the direction of getting the hell out of dodge. In retrospect, I can thank them. While they sit festering in the small town they never left, I traveled North America, the Carribbean and Africa. I tied up my loose ends and started researching where I would be going. Sandpiper, Florida.

Next time in the Chronicles, the trip to Florida and my first week in my new environment.