Now that my money from the USA was ending it was time for me to at least put a responsibility in my life in Costa Rica. So I grabbed a copy of La Nacion, Costa Rica’s national Spanish newspaper, to find classifieds in English, picked up a copy of what was then the only print newspaper in Costa Rica in English, The Tico Times. (No longer in print) and jumped on Craigslist and started searching. Being a college graduate I was not going to settle for a $500 to $600 a month job teaching or working in a call center. I wanted something where I could keep up Spring Break and not be tight on money.
Luckily, it was August and sportsbooks were on the lookout for getting their staff loaded for football season, the biggest gambling time of year. From August when college football starts to the Superbowl in the beginning of February is a great time to get on board with one of these companies. After only a day of searching for work I had an interview set up with Bet Royal the next day. What better way to celebrate a 10 am interview and the possibility of work than going out and partying. Jack Daniels was definitely a friend of mine that night until 2 am when I passed out.
The next morning I stumbled out of bed trying to decide if I was hung over or still drunk. Looking back I lean towards the latter. I was always used to dressing very professional for interviews in the USA so I had my suit laid out and slipped it on, slacks, dress shoes, dress shirt and jacket. Being that I was still in gringo time mode I left the house at 8:30 am to travel from Rohrmoser to Sabana, although it is only about 20 minutes tops in bus I wanted to make sure I arrived on time and knew where the interview location was.
I was in front of the building in Oficentro in Sabana at 9 am, knowing that it was way too early to go up to the office. For 40 minutes I sat outside at a picnic table that seemed to be the gathering place for all the smokers that worked in the building. To say the least it looked like these employees just came in from a night of clubbing or were going to their wanna be gangster meeting after work. I was beginning to feel quite over dressed for this interview. After sitting and sweating in the heat for a bit I headed up to the meeting.
I went to the reception area at Bet Royal and waited for about another 30 minutes until I was called into a small office to talk about the sales position. I handed over my resume and talked for about 45 minutes about my work experience and background. I soon realized that speaking fluent English and the brain power of a middle school student were about all I needed as skills for this job. I even got the question during the interview, “Had I been drinking that morning?,” which in any job in the USA would be mean immediate disqualification from the position. Not in Costa Rica!
One other thing you should know about Costa Rica jobs, if you are hired be prepared to work. I am not talking about the next week or even the next day, I am talking about right then and there. That is exactly what happened at this job. Training started immediately, which by the way I was not prepared for as I had allocated just enough energy and effort for about 2 hours, the time I expected the interview to last. But hung over and all I begin training for one of the most mind numbing jobs I have ever had, but it would not be the worst I had in Costa Rica.
This job paid $1000 a month plus commission, which I have found out is actually a decent salary in Costa Rica. Most companies want to pay you Costa Rican salaries for your work that range from $600 to $800 a month. With the increasing cost of living in Costa Rica this barely gets you by. At Bet Royal we were required to call clients that had been gambling with Bet on Sports, a company that had just gone out of business and had not paid the gamblers that had money with them. It is not really that fun to call 200 plus people a day and tell them “we know you have just lost your money with Bet on Sports but we would like to offer you a 100% bonus if you bet with us.” There were definitely some angry people out there. The only good news was I was able to use about 1/8th of my brain to do the job and became the #1 salesman for the company very quickly. Spring Break for me continued on!!!
Combining Kristy and I’s salaries put us at about $3,500 a month between us which is pretty darn good in Costa Rica. Nights consisted of drinking and drugs almost every single night. Usually we had about a day or two where we would say to ourselves no more, but like all addicts it was just words never backed by actions. You would think that we would be saving money but this is when I hit my casino phase, as if the addictions to drugs and alcohol were not enough. I would go to a casino in the afternoon or night after work with the reasoning that I would have spent $20 to $30 on alcohol anyway so getting free drinks at the casino and gambling the same amount put me at even. All of you addicts know that your brain will try to convince you with any backward reasoning to quench your need for that addiction. I am sure you can deduce that I did not lose $20 or $30 a 3 nights a week, it was more in the range of $100 or more. As the great Robert Earl Keen said “The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends”. But real life started kicking it pretty quick.
Kristy’s success at the vacation company was coming by not using very ethical methods. She was stealing deals that were other people’s clients and saying that they had not mentioned her co-worker. Talk about how to not make friends and influence people. She had managed to piss off her entire office and they were looking for anyway to fire her. This opportunity came when she left for a weekend work sponsored hotel visit at which she consumed the entire minibar and destroyed her hotel room. On that Monday she was fired and was told she would not get any back pay or commissions. As she was a contract worker, they were able to do this. We overnight had become a 1 income couple in Costa Rica. Supporting 2 people on one salary in Costa Rica is not easy, especially if you want to live in a nice place and go out.
Because of a combination of the fact that the landlord at our place in Rohrmoser was a bit tired of our partying and yelling at each other and the fact it was a bit expensive, Kristy and I decided to move to a garage apartment in Escazu which only cost $300 a month. We found out really quickly why it was not very expensive. The bedroom upstairs got Texas hot and the heat usually was trapped when we tried to sleep at night. We finally moved the mattress downstairs and put it in the living room to sleep. I felt like white trash but we were usually so drunk and high it did not matter where we slept…..more like passed out.
Kristy and I continued to have problems but it was one of those toxic co-dependent relationships. Although we knew we were not good for each other we just continued. She stayed home and drank and I went to work. When I was about to get off work either she would come and meet me at a local bar or she would be passed out which meant I could head to the casino. There were some nights where I would lose the money I had and walk the 6 miles from San Jose to Escazu. Not safe in any way or fashion but nothing I was doing was safe or made sense at this point.
Like many sportsbooks in Costa Rica, sometimes they just loose too much money to stay in business. This is what happened at Bet Royal. One day I was working and the next day we were brought in to be told we were going to be let go and would receive a severance check of one month’s salary. I had to find a job a quickly, which turns out again was not very hard.