How about a nice cold one?
I have decided that I’m just not cut out for the service industry. Unfortunately, I am beginning to discover that EDUCATION is also included in this blanket category. Here I thought that my heaven-sent cushy summer job had something to do with “education” and “some of the brightest students,” instead of those kids that couldn’t get into an academic summer program and needed their parents to start signing checks before they could attach “college credit” to their college apps. This is highly specious college credit, if you didn’t figure that out on the first try.
Let my preface my tirade by expressing my gratitude for being able to “live” in Spain for a month with relatively little cost. By “live” I of course mean spend a month in a semi-shady hotel room with the worst food on the Iberian Penninsula, and by relatively little cost, I would of course downplay my addiction to Spanish fashion in the form of Zara and locally made shoes.
My Spanish got a much-needed tune-up, and after nearly two years of disuse, that felt good. I also got to meet some pretty amazing Sevillanos, whom I know I will stay in touch with.
Let’s recap: shoes, a few dresses, pleasant interactions with approximately 8 people, that’s what I got out of my last visit to Spain.
The rest of my time was divided between being shot down by my boss after an attempt at “order” “discipline” or “planning,” sitting in Starbucks to ensure that the chavales didn’t drink/have sex/get lost in the 15 cubic meter commercial space, guiding groups of whiny children in 100+ degree heat, finding tiritas to cover the inevitable bloodied heel from four-inch stilettos, and/or searching for that place deep down within my soul from which I could drag up a plastered on “happy face” which would signal to both my employer and clients that I wished nothing more than to be at their beck and call for a mere pittance of a salary. Oh, and did I mention that I lost my cameras (yes, that’s cameraS with a plural) in the JFK airport? There’s something about Spain that sucks Nikon N80’s into oblivion.
At typical evening waiting outside the illustrious Hotel Don Paco for the little angels.
Scheduled departure time: 7:45. At this time two children are outside the hotel ready to go: the alterna-chick from Manhattan, silent brooding boy, and the One-In-A-Million considerate JAP.
7:55- Andy, Brandi, Bobbi, Joey, Amy, and Sam (all girls) stumble downstairs in their too-short skirts, too-small shirts, and too-tall shoes. I mumble my daily futile plea, which as usual falls on deaf ears: “If you can’t walk in your shoes, please don’t wear them.”
8:00- Said androgynously named bunch collectively ignore my well intentioned warning and proceed to take upwards of 30 pictures of themselves, in various groups and from various angles.
8:15- Myself, or one of the other illustrious leaders verbalizes the need to depart for restaurant.
8:16- Someone starts crying re: hair that has not been properly straightened; shoes not appropriate for venue (go figure!); Andy, Randi, Bobbi, Joey, Amy, or Sam is wearing part or all of my outfit and we cannot be seen together; Sandy (boy) is not here, and I can’t eat without my boyfriend.
8:20- Crying person is appeased, per request of Program Director, by any means necessary.
8:30- Group departs on foot for dinner.
8:45- Group arrives at restaurant (normally a 5 minute walk, elongated beyond recognition due to stilettos) to greet angry restaurateur who has been ready for an hour. Staff member apologizes, then proceeds to apologize for rude behavior of students yelling at each other, scrambling for seats, and rearranging entire restaurant seating area to prohibit other customers from eating.
9:25- 8 bulimic girls visit bathroom one at a time (or all at once) to vomit up pre-paid dinner.
9:30- Staff member again apologizes to owner, waitstaff, and manager for group behavior and rudeness, then leaves with students.
9:50- Return to hotel so that children could dig up the sequestered alcohol from myriad corners of room and proceed to get drunk, while staff members patrol hallways and monitor activities.
To be fair, I could interact with most of the children (note caveat of *most*) on an individual basis; some of them were even smart/interesting, like the kid who worked three jobs to pay for his own trip, and was genuinely interesteed in Spanish history and culture. But there is still something so foul, so unbearable about the behavior of teens in large, uncontrolled masses that leaves a slime of filth on my psyche. It’s not indelible, but neither is it removed with great facility.
The easiest way, and most pleasurable as I learned from one of my first teaching mentors, is to wash it down with a nice cold one. Unfortunately, this was contractually prohibited by my employer while I was within EU territory. Very quickly, however, we learned to adapt as the children did, sneaking a manzanilla, a cerveza, or a cubata from the bar when the little ones were at play. Ironically, I never snuck around to drink in high school, so this couldn’t hearken back to old times of illicit drinking and partying, but even without that sort of nostalgia I felt immersed in that same awful, vindictive, manipulative, petty, stupid culture.
I’m glad it’s all over. Now, I think I’ll walk downstairs to my own refrigerator, in the privacy of my adult living space and grab one (not five, not three, not ten, but ONE) cold beer to savor on a hot summer evening. That’s what life should be like.