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It's been a bit of an unsettling week on the Island. First of all, Port Isabel went on the warpath against the proposed building of a second causeway when an economic impact study came up positive. The mainlanders might consider joining forces with the folks on North Padre Island, who were kind of thinking that the raising of their single causeway might ought to take precedence over SPI getting the luxury of an alternative route....
Then a north South Padre Island land owner discovered that the magic words "near the proposed site for the new causeway" weren't magic enough to turn sand into gold, and an Island institution - Rovan's Restaurant - closed its doors and put up the permanent "Gone Fishin'" sign.

And that's not the worst of it. As I write this, Tropical Storm Barry is out wandering aimlessly around the Gulf. Though the experts seem to think it is going to head toward the Louisiana coast, they admit that they don't really know. The smiling lady on the Weather Channel says, "The good news is that the storm is moving very slowly and is giving everyone on the Gulf Coast time to prepare." She might have added, "... time to worry about whether the insurance is adequate, time to wonder if all the weekend plans are going to fall through and time to think, 'Oh the heck with it, I'll worry about it if and when she says it's heading straight at me.'"

By the way, I am curious how many of you remember the last hurricane Barry, (also known in these parts as "Hurricane Barely"), which brushed by SPI way back in 1983. If you do, you are even more of an institution around here than Rovan's was ...

Dear Sandy,
     I'm 22 years old and live in Dallas. I visit Padre every year but I never want to leave when I do. I have been there 4 times this year and tried to look for a JOB that would pay enough to afford a nice place on the island. I would really like to get my feet permanently planted in the sand. I have tried to look for work in the online classifieds and they are only people like me I guess looking for a way to make the long move down there and have a job waiting. Do you know anyone looking for a 22 year old hard working guy with skills in almost everything associated with Padre that pays decent money?
Thanks, C.

O Amigo,
Let's think this thing through. Since you visit the island a lot, you already know what kinds of non-professional types are employed here: wait staff, bartenders, shop clerks, bathroom scrubbers, bell hops, pizza pushers, marina go-fers, parasail pullers, umbrella planters, bungee jockies, etc. etc. Now sure, some people are better at these jobs than others and I guess that is where the "skill" comes in. However, when you look at the pool of available twenty-somethings who want to live here and are capable of driving a motor boat, popping a beer or parking a beach lounger, you will see that they are not at all in short supply... which is why the people who hire them do not have to pay "decent money." As soon as one gets his first paycheck and quits in disgust, another pops up to take his place, happy for the opportunity.

The fact is, unless you have big bucks, an uncle in the T-shirt biz or a skill that is in demand, this is a hard place to get a toe hold. Hard, yes but it can be done because people do it every year and I am going to tell you the secret to their success.

First, you scrape together enough money to pay for a couple of weeks at a cheap motel in Port Isabel. Then you pore over the want ads in the PI/SPI Press and you find a job - any job. they won't hire you over the net or the phone. They want to see you and ask you if you can be ready to punch the clock in 2 hours and you say sure. And then - unless your personality scores in the negative zone - you make a friend who has a couch or needs a roommate. Or knows someone who needs a roommate. And there is your cheap place to live. Not nice -- not yet, but cheap.

So now you have to prove that you are the hard worker you claim to be and you show up on time and smile at the tourists (even the grumpy ones) and don't call in drunk very often or whine about the pinche paycheck (at least, not within earshot of the boss). And then one day something happens: You get a promotion and/or a raise or a better job opens up and you have an "in" because you know the right person. Now you can move into a nicer place - maybe on the island - and party at Louie's without paying the cover because your license says you live here. And your mom calls you on your new cell phone and asks when you are going to come home and you tell her, "I'm already here."

It's that simple. Not easy... just simple and I wish you luck.

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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