Sharing Time with Vince

“Good day! Good day!” he said as he bounced up to our rental car, in his bright orange Caribbean print shirt, Bermuda shorts, and sandals.

“Oh, oh,” I said to my wife. “Looks like a time share pitch…” But before she could respond, he was at my window, smiling and waving. I had to smile. I’ve always admire the energy of a true salesman.

“Hello, sir!’” he said, a huge smile on his too sun-burned face. He continued, in his clipped Dutch accent. “My name is Vince and I work for the Westin Hotel over on the beach, ya?” (‘Ya’ is the Dutch equivalent of the much maligned Canadian ‘Eh’ or our grating American ‘Okay’, all of which are way overused.) “What are your names and what brings you down here to Oyster Bay?” Right to the point, those Dutch!

Now I’ve always liked the give and take of these sales pitches, especially as I’ve gotten older and now more readily challenge them – in a good sort of way, of course. No need to get annoyed – young guys like this are just trying to make a living like everyone else on the beautiful island of St. Maarten.

“Well, Vince,” I said, “We are Joe and Joanne Paradis and we own a time share right here at Oyster Bay. We’re staying at another place on the island this week, but come Saturday, we’ll be staying here. Right now, we’re going over to that little shop to buy some French bread. And what brings you here?”

“Exciting times!” he said. “As I say, we (his partner was in the little booth they had set up just before you get to our resort, which might explain why he wasn’t as sun-burned as Vince) work for the Westin Hotel and are promoting our new timeshares, ya? Would you like to scratch a scratch ticket and win some prizes? It is free. There is no obligation for you, of course.”

“Can I win a trip to America?” I asked. The partners looked at each other for a second and then laughed. “That is good, Joe! No, no, but you can win some very nice prizes. Please scratch, each of you!”

So we did, with an American nickel donated by Vince. We scratched my ticket first. I won a free drink at the Westin. “That is good, ya?” said Vince. My wife scratched hers next. Vince waited in anticipation.

“I see two ‘7’s, Vince. Is that good?”

“Oh, two ‘7’s!” he said. ‘Ya, that is very good! That is a prize!”

Joanne continued to scratch the card. “No wait, Vince… she has three ‘7’s. She must have won the lottery, huh?”

He stopped in his tracks, a wave of disbelief crossing his face. “Three ‘7’s!!!” He almost choked on his words and grabbed my arm in his excitement. “Do you know what that means, Joe? That is the best prize! There are only six of those in the scratch tickets every day that we get thousands of scratch tickets from the sales management, ya? He began jumping up and down. It was a little weird…

“I will tell you the prizes, ya? There are three prizes when you get three ‘7’s. The first is $1,000 in cash. That is donated by the vendors on the island. Cash is very good, ya?” We said ya back. “The second prize is 5 days and 4 nights at a resort in Cancun. That is very good too. And the third is a video camera. It is not a cheap one, Joe. But a very good camera of the highest quality. That is very good news, is it not?”

We agreed…not as excitedly as Vince, because we’ve been down this road before. Of course, so had he… But, at least he finally let go of my arm.

“It is very good for us too!” he said. “We get $200 when the three ‘7’s come up on a ticket!” The sales partners looked at each other and nodded eagerly.

“Now, of course, there is a catch, ya? You must come over to the hotel and listen to the timeshare presentation and see one of the units. They are very nice. But if you don’t asked any questions, you can be out in a very short time, ya? So follow me, Joe and Joanne, and I will take you there!”

And off we went – after we bought our French bread.

We met with a lovely woman from French Guiana, who gave us the timeshare spiel, understood that we probably would not buy since we had a timeshare right next door, and said glowingly that we were the most handsome couple she had ever met. After the tour and our regretfully turning down the offer to purchase a timeshare – a surprise to none of us – she went as cold as ice and shuffled us down to the sales office…where we scratched off the final block of our three ‘7’s scratch ticket and won Prize #2 – the 5 days and 4 nights in Cancun.

A few days later, we began our timeshare week at Oyster Bay. We ran into Vince every once in a while, out there at his little shack, chasing down cars and hawking his scratch tickets to everyone passing by.

Half way into our week, I met a couple at the beautiful infinity pool. The guy was telling me how they had been cornered by a guy at the entrance to Oyster Bay who wanted them to look at a timeshare at the Westin.

“Did you go?” I asked.

“Sure,” he said. “We also won a free 5-day 4-night trip on one of his scratch tickets.”

“Cancun?” I asked.

“Why, yes,” he responded.

“I’ll bet you had three ‘7’s too, right?”

“We sure did! The guy told us there are only six of them in the scratch tickets they distribute every day.”

To which I could only respond, “You’re a lucky guy, ya?” And we both laughed.

Visit Londonderry Hometown Online News every Tuesday Morning for another one of Joe’s great columns! Select “Share this story” and share your favorite columnist with your friends!


Joe’s Two Cents – It’s Great To Be Alive is Joe Paradis’ first published book and gathers 40 of his most popular stories, enhancing them with humorous photography. The book is a compilation of forty of Joe’s best short stories.

Injecting humor into topics from everyday life, Joe answers those earth-shattering questions we all have about the beach, the bathroom, the junk drawer. From guys’ tools to girl talk. High school seniors to the senior years.

This classic collection has been updated to include pictures and a short introduction for each story. Until now, only God knew what possessed Joe to write about these things. Now you can too!

Joe Paradis is one of Londonderry’s most popular columnists and authors. Visit his web site at www.joes2cents.com today and order his latest autographed book, “It’s Great to Be Alive!”

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Are We Really on Vacation Away from Home?

“Nice tattoo,” I said to the guy at the table next to us.  And it was – a rendition of John Lennon’s caricature of himself that he drew 40 years ago.

“Thanks,” he responded.  “Lennon lives foreva!”

‘Foreva?’ I thought to myself.  Hmmm… that accent…  “Where are you folks from?”

“New Hampsha,” he said.  “Way up north in the good  ol’ USA!”

“Lousy state,” I said – and he looked at me a bit suspiciously.  With a grin, I added “We’re from New Hampshire too.  Londonderry.”  He and his friends were from Goffstown.  What a coincidence.  Here we were sitting at a beach pub on the island of St. Maarten and we happen to run into the only other folks vacationing here from New Hampshire.  Or so we thought…

Usually we’ll go somewhere – anywhere – and run into a hundred people from Somerville, my wife’s hometown.  I don’t know why; maybe everyone wanted to leave over the years.  Not so in St. Maarten…

The next day, we took a little 4-mile nature walk with the activities director and eight other people from the resort.  St. Maarten is an island of steep hills and valleys, so this proved to be a good substitute for my morning workout.  And a real surprise for some of the less active in the group.  But we all pulled together going up the hills and chatted a lot going down them.  We had good conversations with people who were all basically vacationing from the Northeast.   At one point, I found myself walking with two guys, both lawyers.  One from Connecticut, the other from – you guessed it – New Hampshire.

“Which town?” I asked.

“Plymouth,” he responded.  “But I’m originally from Massachusetts.”  Most NH transplants don’t readily admit they are from MA, but he did – probably for the sake of conversation, or to justify the BC Eagles t-shirt.  “Yup, I grew up in a little town called Arlington.  Ever heard of it?”

“Birthplace of Uncle Sam,” I responded.  “I grew up there too.”

Another local met 1,500 miles from home!  His name was John.  But it got better.  We were also the same age, although I wondered where his gray hair was.  He and his wife, who was also walking with us, both graduated from Arlington High with my cousin David.  A few days later, we met the John’s brother and his wife.  As it turned out, she and I were also the same age, and went to the same grade school together in Cambridge.  She also told me that my 5th grade teacher – the only non-nun at Immaculate Conception – was John’s cousin.  This vacation was getting to be a really small world.

A bunch of us headed to one of the casinos Tuesday night, crammed onto a private bus with Stephane, one of the resort employees who was acting as our guide that night.  Big spenders that we are, Joanne and I were prepared to blow our usual whopping $20 on these high-roller events – and spend the rest of the time watching the inevitable misfortunes of others.  On the bus ride, we chatted with Stephane for awhile, a likeable native guy from the French side of the island, always smiling and laughing.  When we told him we were from New Hampshire, he laughed and said “Live Free or Die!”  Turns out Stephane spent a little time working at the Nashua Mall, back when Macy’s was Jordan Marsh.  This sparked the interest of another couple on board, who turned out to be from Littleton, NH.  A real live logger from the north, this guy and his wife really knew their way around the casino gaming tables.  Seems they got out of country quite a bit to spend that logging money.

I was pretty sure we must have finally met everyone from New Hampshire who was vacationing the same week as us – at the same resort as us.   After all, how many close encounters can you have in one week with neighbors you’ve never met, 1,500 miles from home?

Throughout the week, we had been bumping into Dale and Diane, a couple from Ohio.  Great folks.  Initially, we compared notes on the separate meetings we had had with timeshare reps who, every time you return to the resort, want to bring you “up to speed on the latest events” at the resort – and of course, entice you to buy another timeshare week.  Every owner always agrees to meet with them, because at the very least, you get a free event or massage for your time.  We took the massage – but that’s a story for another time.

As we ran into our Ohio friends later in the week, we inevitably got around to talking about ourselves.  And inevitably, Dale and I had both served in the Air Force and both attended the Defense Language Institute in Monterey CA.  We studied different languages there, but I’ve never met anyone on vacation with whom I shared that coincidence.  Except, of course, until I met Rose at the pool in St. Maarten.  Seems her stepson had joined the Air Force five years ago, went to the Defense Language Institute, and studied the same language (Korean) that I had.  More coincidental weirdness…

We also spent one wonderful day sailing the coast and snorkeling with Chuck and Jan – who were from Hooksett, of course…   And that pretty much rounded out our vacation week with neighbors we’d never meet at home, but whom we just “ran into” on a small island in the Caribbean Ocean.  Now to be fair, we did also meet a bunch of great folks from around the US – Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Iowa, – even Florida – although we weren’t sure why…  And there were a few Canadians escaping the Great White North.  Canadians are always fun to vacation with.

But for the life of me, I just can‘t understand why half the state of NH was in St. Maarten that week at the Oyster Bay Resort.  And it all started with a tattoo of John Lennon.  Imagine all the people, as he once said…

Visit Londonderry Hometown Online News every Tuesday Morning for another one of Joe’s great columns! Share with a friend’s Joe is back!


Joe’s Two Cents – It’s Great To Be Alive is Joe Paradis’ first published book and gathers 40 of his most popular stories, enhancing them with humorous photography. The book is a compilation of forty of Joe’s best short stories.

Injecting humor into topics from everyday life, Joe answers those earth-shattering questions we all have about the beach, the bathroom, the junk drawer. From guys’ tools to girl talk. High school seniors to the senior years.

This classic collection has been updated to include pictures and a short introduction for each story. Until now, only God knew what possessed Joe to write about these things. Now you can too!

Joe Paradis is one of Londonderry’s most popular columnists and authors. Visit his web site at www.joes2cents.com today and order his latest autographed book, “It’s Great to Be Alive!”

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