When things get rough and the Oklahoma winds blow strong and cold, I know that there’s some doppelganger of mine serving piña coladas on a sandy beach, wearing khaki shorts and farming freckles as she makes payday. I’ve always dreamed that if my situation got really dire, if the shouting matches with cars caused an unhealthy rise in blood pressure, if heartache was an imminent danger, if I got the sudden, inexplicable urge to be tan, I could move to the Caribbean and work in a resort catering to overweight American tourists.
As an unnaturally pale, sand-hating individual, this seems silly. After all, working at a resort requires understanding of a hierarchical system of employment, authority, and protocol, not to mention a passport and a fair dose of patience, both of which are expired. In fact, compared to Ministry of Imagery‘s humble roots in rainy Portland, Oregon, it couldn’t be more different. Erratic scheduling and a complete shunning of anything resembling a uniform (other than Simon’s glasses and my bedhead), we’re barely able to tolerate one another. I can’t imagine what would happen if we had a hoard of plump, zinc-oxide-toting vacationers dumped on our doorstep via shuttlebus.
Ah, but the allure of the days off in paradise! The warm sand, cerulean waves lapping against an ecru shore, the hammocks! The banana hammocks! Not to mention the fact that I don’t think that concierges wearing conch shells have to check their email every two minutes. I imagine that in Carrib-speak, “WiFi” is a type of tropical fish resembling the pompano, and that it tastes delicious with a papaya relish.
So how true is this coastal career chimera? I clicked on Sandals to find out how to put the shell of truth up to my ear. Turns out that Sandals Resorts and their equally drunk twin sister, Beaches Resorts, are owned by the same company, Unique Vacations, Inc., whose headquarters are based out of Miami, Florida. Unfortunately, my search ended pretty abruptly, as the only position that’s available appears to be more closely tied to desks than daiquiris: “Business Development Manager (aka Outside Sales Manager).” Yawn. Not to mention that you have to live in Minneapolis (?!) and have three years of experience.
When I looked for something that would allow me to get my feet wet in the industry of getting one’s feet wet, I found some depressing news. It seems as though paradise isn’t immune to, do I even need to say it? The Recession.
In December, over six-hundred Sandals workers were laid off in Jamaica, St. Lucia, and the Bahamas. “The duration of this global economic downturn is so far uncertain, and the coming tourism season is going to be really tough for the industry,” Sandals’ statement read. So much for Shangri-la.
Other drawbacks to beach labor include the cost of living and the cost of even finding a job in the first place. Under the best economic circumstances, a resort worker must take the time and subsequent trips to find a job on coconut-covered Cloud Nine in the first place. Airfare, plus cost of hotel, hell, you have to take a vacation just to attempt to get work. Moreover, despite tax-free living on islands such as Grand Cayman, the actual cost of existence is higher. All of this, plus having to deal with what I assume is an ongoing onslaught of slow-moving, loud-talking, picture-taking, environment-defiling tourists. See? It’s so easy to slip into the haughtiness of being a native. But I’m a native New Yorker, and money talks to me. Seasonal employment, no real job security as everyone gives into the money-in-the-mattress mentality, plus relocation fees and a higher cost of living spells out shipwreck far more than seventh heaven.
And to even further drive the nail into my coffin of palm fronds, there are the Hedonism Resorts in Jamaica. Now, I’m all for nookie, ugly bumpin’, dancing the horizontal mambo, etc. But a resort known for catering to nudists and swingers, with pictures like this and this used as promotional tools, makes me want to wear a permanent snowsuit and type with mittens on. Numbered like the sequels to your favorite horror movie franchise, these self-professed “passports to pure pleasure” offer “daring day” and “naughty night” packages. Owned by SuperClubs, who also coincidentally owns the uber-family friendly Starfish Trelawny Resort and Spa, Hedonism Resorts claim to be “a sandbox for your inner child.” My inner child is sober and likes to play Scrabble. She also finds pleasure in only one skinny, tattooed boy with glasses, who would rather be caught in a bear suit (or bear trap) than slathered in Banana Boat body oil. That said, I don’t think I have to worry about employment around the entirely exposed. Hedonism Resorts don’t appear to be hiring either.
Drop me a line, AinsleyDrew at the gmail one. Thank you for donating your clams.
Hire us. If words were grains of sand, we’d kick them in your face.