Jack comes across as a quiet, easy-going guy, and he’s incredibly well-spoken with some incredible experiences for his age so far. He’s traveled to Ireland alone for a month, and he’s been working and hustling since he was 11 years old.
We caught up with Jack at the Tasting Room this week, who started with us a couple months ago ahead of our busy summer season.
Meet Barback Jack Sandman!
“Jack has been a great addition to the team in the Tasting Room. He hit the ground running, starting his first day in the Brewtanical Garden, and picked up the job right away! Since then, Jack has continued to grow his skillset in all the needs of the Tasting Room. He comes in with a go-getting, proactive work ethic, and that suits the busy Tasting Room perfectly,” says Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello.
Jack is no stranger to hard work. He’s previously worked in a number of different service and restaurant jobs.
“I grew up in North Cape May, right across from the ferry terminal,” he says. “I spent most of my time either there or Rio Grande and my grandmother’s house.”
He went to Lower Cape May Regional for high school, and has been taking classes at Atlantic County Community College.
“Last semester was really tough because of online classes,” he shares.
When the pandemic hit, class work became homework, and lectures moved online.
“I had one teacher that went so fast through everything. They would literally start off the first hour, and would keep talking, not even take time to breathe, and I’m like trying to write down everything and I can’t and I’m just losing it,” he says. “It’s going to be back in person for the fall semester, so that should be a lot better.”
Like many students entering college last year, Jack started his classes at a tough time.
“When COVID hit, I had just gotten back to college, because I took some time off when I graduated high school. So it was my first semester, and I was doing really well. I was getting good grades, I was having a good time,” he shares. “Then COVID hit at the very end of the semester. I had an art class, and everything was closed, so I couldn’t get any supplies to finish my assignments. I think they just passed me out of mercy, honestly.”
Despite these challenges, Jack has continued to balance school and work.
“I’m definitely versatile, I’ve worked almost every single job and so many different jobs, too,” he shares.
When he was 11, his father started growing vegetables, so he jumped right in and started selling them.
“I made a lot of money by the time I was 11 at the end of the summer, it was pretty cool. I bought my first iPad, it was $700 back then. And that was back when it was a huge deal. I gave them all cash. I stood there for about 10 minutes trying to count up all the dollar bills,” he says with a smile.
We can’t even imagine the look on the cashier’s face when a kid handed over such a massive stack of cash. For many of those who grew up on the shore or spent their formative years here, Jack’s trajectory might look familiar.
“I started off doing the farming and growing vegetables, then I rented bicycles in Cape May,” he says.
“One day on a lunch break, I went to Key West Tacos, picked up an application there, and started working. Just down the street is Sapore Italiano, and I got a job there bussing. I worked there for like two or three years. Then I got the job at Big Wave because they needed help and my brother’s girlfriend worked there, so they hooked me up with that.”
Jack also worked at McGlade’s On the Pier as a busser.
His most recent role was at a gas station last summer, which helped him fill in the gaps for his hours. And while it was nice and the people were great, he was looking for something a little different.
“I had gone through a rough winter because of COVID, and was looking for a better job,” he says.
“A lot of the times I worked doubles, but we were understaffed. It got really intense. I had a friend that told me about a social media ad that you guys were hiring, so I came by,” he says.
“I’m old fashioned, I came in for the paper application. The people here were gracious enough to give me a paper one to fill out. That’s when I started working here.”
Luckily for Jack, we always keep a stack of paper applications on hand, and getting to meet applicants in person can really give people a leg up in the competition!
Jack has “done everything you normally would growing up in a shore town, other than being a server or bartender.”
He’s used to working crazy summers and holidays.
“I haven’t had a Christmas that I haven’t worked since I was a junior in high school. Sometimes it doesn’t really bother me,” he says.
As for his experience with us so far, Jack appreciates that everyone is chill, and he knows what to expect when he comes into work.
Jack is attuned to guest needs, spotting when to grab glasses from tables and keeping an eye out for when to buss different areas, or which sections may hang out a while.
“You just kind of work a rhythm, do a circle and hit the dishwasher. If a keg needs to be changed, you switch it out real quick. I enjoy it,” he says.
For kegs on the higher shelf, Jack grabs help to lift it up when changing kegs out, and he’s looking forward to the kegs being easier to maneuver by the end of the summer.
“Mike Austin has been an inspiration,” he says. “He’s a good person to help train anyone coming into the Tasting Room. He can really tell you what to do. I figured out everything from him, and since day one, I picked up good habits. The whole attitude here has been that you’re free to ask anybody if you need help.”
In his downtime, Jack enjoys reading and going to the beach.
Right now, Jack is reading The Lost World by Michael Crichton.
“I read Jurassic Park, and it’s not usually a book that I would have read, but I went to Books-a-Million up by Hamilton Mall, and I saw this really awesome hardback cover of it. It was kind of leathery, like dinosaur skin, and it had the imprint of the dinosaur foot on it. That was pretty cool,” he says. “So, I had to have it. It was a really good book.”
Jack also points to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest as one of his favorites, as well as Jack Kerouac’s work. For something a bit more uplifting, he really enjoyed Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski.
“I like to find things to do with my time,” he says.
“Sometimes I might get stuck at home if it’s a rainy day and I’ll play video games or something like that. Most of the time, I’ll either read, listen to music, play video games, on nice days go to the beach, try to go for a walk or something.”
As for video games, Jack has been playing Titanfall and Call of Duty: Warzone.
“I played Jurassic World: Evolution for a while; it’s kind of like Rollercoaster Tycoon but for Jurassic Park. You can even drive the jeeps around in the park. Sometimes it’s fun to just let the dinosaurs loose and watch them wreak havoc,” he says with a laugh.
Like Ryan and Mike before him, Jack points to the lighthouse trail in Cape May as one of his go-to spots, as well as Higbee Beach and Cape May Beach.
“I live two or three blocks away from the bay, the beach area, so in the summer my family likes to go sailing out there. My dad also has a ski boat so we can water ski, but I haven’t been able to do that in a while. It’s still fun when I can do it,” he says.
Jack might be limited on time now with his work schedule, but pre-pandemic, he enjoyed taking a number of trips. His most substantial to date has been a trip to Ireland a few years ago.
“After I graduated from high school, I went to Ireland for a month. I went by myself, and I was just hiking,” he says.
“I went around the entire coastline of the island. It was pretty cool, and nice being able to hitchhike and things like that. I was 19, too, so I could drink out there, so that was some of my first bar experiences.”
A 19-year-old by themselves in a foreign country? What could go wrong? Apparently, not as much as things could have, especially for a mostly spontaneous trip!
“I didn’t plan it,” he shares with a laugh. “Everyone was so worried about me. I didn’t really do any research, I just planned to go there and figure things out. I got really lucky with that trip because there were certain situations that were close calls, but they worked themselves out.”
Compared to the rest of his trip, his brief stint in Derry in Northern Ireland was a shock because of how different everything was.
“That’s an area where there’s a lot of unrest,” he shares. “There were bullet holes in the walls around town. I had trouble finding a hostel or a place to stay, too, whereas everywhere else you could just walk in and talk to someone at the front desk.”
After searching around and speaking to multiple hostels via a buzzer and outside microphone, Jack finally found a room available on his phone. The place was behind a pub, down a back alley.
(Ed. note: We’re really getting horror movie vibes here.)
“It was through the back alley, past some chain link, barbed wire fences, and I opened the door and it’s this really sweet old lady who owned the place. Another family was living downstairs and she was just like, ‘You can have the upstairs bedroom tonight,’” he says.
Thankfully, that seemed to be a theme for much of his trip. Lots of really nice, caring people who helped look out for each other.
He even found a traveling partner in Gonzo, a Chilean immigrant who was also backpacking the area. They visited a number of different villages and towns together, as they happened to be traveling in the same direction when they met one day at a bus stop.
“Gonzo and I hiked out to the tip of this peninsula once,” he says. “We went through this farmland, and this cow had just given birth to a calf, so there was a tiny little calf there. One part had all these kittens running around all over the place. It was magical.”
However, it wasn’t always kittens and gorgeous scenery. Hitchhiking during this trip meant a lot of days spent walking, or going miles without coming across a car on the road. If it was raining, as it often does in Ireland, it was even harder to hitch a ride.
“No one wants to give you a lift in the rain,” Jack says.
Jack and Gonzo met in Kinsale, Ireland before reconnecting in Skibbereen.
“It was cool because there was no one else in town, and it was just me and him at this hostel, which was an old mill,” he says. “It was just this old guy, the owner, and his wife. We walk in and they’re eating dinner and they invite us to sit down with them. The guy pulls out the Scottish version of moonshine and starts taking shots with us. It was some pretty powerful stuff.”
(Ed. note: Ireland is sounding more and more like somewhere we want to visit!)
“I did a lot of walking over there,” Jack says with a grin. “I’d left Gonzo back at the mill. We were going to meet each other at the next place, so I hitchhiked further in.”
After he was dropped off, and had been walking for an hour, Jack noticed another car behind him.
“I see this guy stick his arms out of the car window, waving. The car pulls off in front of me and it’s Gonzo. He’d caught up to me, and he got me a lift into the next town,” he says.
Traveling on foot and moving from place to place each night meant that the singular backpack Jack had on him got heavy real fast.
“In one town, I took about half of my clothes out and left them in the hostel,” he says.
It’s a common practice where leftover clothes can be utilized by other visitors, as there are washing machines on site.
“Even after dumping that, I still felt like a pack mule,” he says.
In another particularly creepy moment, Jack spent most of his day biking to another coastal town, only for locals to warn him that it might not be safe to stay in the area. They suggested he turn back, which meant an uncomfortable bike ride back in the dark.
“There were a ton of pot holes in the road. All I had was a headlamp, and all you could see around you was darkness, and just the glowing eyes of sheep around you,” he says. “The roads are narrow, and this huge truck rolls up next to me, so we had to share the road. I made it back alive, though, so that was good,” he says with a shrug.
Jack is pretty nonchalant, and we have a feeling that this carefree attitude helped alleviate a lot of the stress that typically comes with traveling, especially for long periods of time.
The incredible experiences he had while in Ireland can’t be beat, though.
In one town, he met a photographer from Utah.
“His name is Lee,” Jack shares. “He has a YouTube video that I show up in. It was cool, I felt like a celebrity.”
In the harbor lived a dolphin that had been living there for 13 years.
“He got rejected by his pod, so he’s been alone in there,” Jack says. “His name was Fungie.”
For those of you, like us, who are already invested in Fungie, his Wikipedia page doesn’t offer much hopeful information, as he was last seen late last year.
Let’s just say Fungie found a new pod and is living happily ever after.
By the end of the trip, Jack was “flat broke,” but he was able to make it back to the airport on his last day despite the last of his money going to a family on the street who asked for change.
As for Gonzo, Jack still keeps in touch with him now and again on Instagram, and he went back to Ireland for two weeks to meet up with him again. Gonzo spent some time in the Caribbean, and in Amsterdam, England, and Scotland before crossing paths with Jack, and plans to stay there.
When he’s not trekking out to Ireland, Jack has enjoyed smaller trips with his girlfriend, family, and friends, including Utah and Maine. He and his girlfriend also enjoy going to Universal Studios in Florida.
“They recently changed the Jurassic Park section to Jurassic World, but I liked the old cabana look, the red and blacks,” he says. “The last time we went, they’d just added the new Hagrid Harry Potter ride.”
Jack is looking forward to going back. “That was before we were 21, and now that we’re both 21, we’ll really be able to have a great time there.”
Some places on his list to visit are Iceland, Japan, and New Zealand, so he can see where Lord of the Rings was shot. “I would love to go see some places in China, too,” he says. “I feel like a lot of those areas might be harder to get to, like the more rural areas. There’s a lot of great places to see in America, too, like the Badlands, and other places you don’t always think about.”
The very first Cape May beer Jack tried was Devil’s Reach, and he was shocked by the bitterness at first.
If you find yourself in the Tasting Room, keep an eye out for Jack behind the bar or checking on guests throughout the space. He has even more incredible stories, and he’s a great person to talk to!