I’d love to start tonight’s entry by saying both girls won, but that didn’t happen. With the mosquitoes leading 27-2, it’s been a rough day in the trenches. Girl number one, who will remain nameless because of her adolescence, (and she’s shy as hell) competed against a Russian today. Overcoming a few early jitters, she settled in and chalked up her first professional loss, playing some great points and tossing in enough nervous errors to eek out a defeat. After the match, she expressed a million thoughts, not the least of which was, “I will beat her next time I play her,” and that’s pretty much symphonic to a coach’s ears. Post-match, I also saw enough teeth to let me know she enjoyed the experience. Girl number two, who will also remain nameless ( I fear notoriety more then popularity!) battled until almost midnight, and despite having some serving issues, played the best match she has ever played against a Division 1 college player. She came away expressing the same sentiment of being able to beat her opponent. Whether they gained a million lessons on this trip (which they did), or just this one, truly doesn’t matter. That they now believe they can beat professional players, means they’ll be training with a different mindset. That in itself is worth the price of admission.
And now on to the resort front….
Having now been here almost two weeks, I’ve made a few observations about the employees here. There’s a pretty palpable hierarchy thing going on. All the workers wear uniforms – apparently to be distinguishable from the guests who traipse around in nothing but flip-flops and bathing suits that are supposed to cover unmentionables but which mention them, contemptibly – and the uniforms come in varying degrees of skin coverage. For example, bellhops dress in safari hats, and tan collared shirts, reception folk bear jackets, while pool attendants sport white cotton and Bermuda shorts and the beach monitors get shorts and puka shells, and well, you get the point. As one moves from habitaciones toward the water, the clothing shrinks, the laborers get fitter and better looking, and one gets the sense that someone in HR is job profiling using a high school yearbook – dorks here and cool kids over there.
What I’ve come to learn is that your associations determine how you (the guest) are treated.
To wit: This morning I stood poolside chatting with a beach bartender (cool group) and a photographer (also cool group but with less masculinity) when one of the reception desk workers (uncool with Chewbacca resemblance – someone didn’t think through the idea that these folks would be greeting guests and the face time would be pretty high), anyway, one of the reception desk workers passed by and saw me high-five the bartender. A few hours later, when I went to reception for my Yes-I-am-a-guest-who-should-be-wearing-a-helmet fourth lost key of this trip, they ignored me. I might not have taken offense, but a few moments later, one of the towel elves (seriously uncool due to hats with bells) said he was out of towels when there was a four-foot stack of fluffy cotton right behind him. I started to question the vengefulness of this social stratification.
Not the kind to hold a grudge, I let it pass, assuming I was just the unassuming victim of some employee altercation in the lounge, and maybe this was just the smart kids way of getting back at the jocks. This resort, after all, spans thirty football fields and who really cares who gets along with the bartender?
Apparently, everyone! Turns out, the previous night, the bartender had a torrid fling with one of the guests (very frowned upon in this here resort where the dominant clientele is couples) and my inappropriately-timed high-five coincided with his morning-after antics, which included bragging to his fellow employees about last night’s catch du jour. I’m now trapped in a tropical soap opera where my inadvertent willingness to converse with a just-turned-adulterer has labeled me pariah.
To be ostracized by a resort labor force, and to walk around as a confederate of immorality in Mexico is rather daunting, and so I’m now relegated to embarrassed smiles and “I’m both sorry and really misunderstood” head shakes to all service folk. Truth is, life’s associations can be pretty costly, but then, for those who know me, I should have already learned that lesson.
I could have ended the story with that last statement, but there’s a point to this whole thing. My experiences in the resort mirror the competitive arena. When these young girls walk out to their first practice session, the other players immediately categorize them by who they are hitting with, who they hang with, how hard they try, and their brazenness to hit boldly or to wither in the face of greater strength. To be exiled after day one can destroy a player, so it takes a lot of mental preparation to overcome the nerves and anxiety one experiences on day one of the first pro event. In other words, if you’re trying to make history, don’t fuck it up on the first day!
See how nicely that all tied together. :-)