The Glamorous Life of a Travel Industry Geek

1 Nov

You may have noticed I’ve been gone for a couple of weeks. Writing for clients, working at the garden and in general, leading my schizophrenic life. I was out of town for the past 10 days doing my meeting management job at the happiest place on earth. No, not a college frat party the night after finals. But Anaheim, California, home of Disneyland.

If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times. “Your job is so glamorous.” Now, I will admit, I’ve had some interesting jobs in my life. After leaving my pantyhose and pumps banking career, I have not been a nine-to-fiver and have rarely been desk-bound. But glamorous? I beg to differ.

I’ve already told you about one job responsibility of painting numbers on the backs of crabs with white-out (not pushing paper but I wouldn’t exactly call that glamorous). I haven’t yet mentioned another glamorous job I did on a ship. You see, on Windjammer ships, the Purser is the ship’s medical officer. This means that from time to time a crew member from the islands will come to you and say, “Motown (my nickname) my bum tickles (lovely)”. After a couple of times hearing this, you look at them and say, “worms.” The glamour is overwhelming.

When I happened upon a job on big cruise ships I thought – time to experience the glamorous life I’ve been told I’m living. After all, we’ve all seen the Love Boat. So there I am, hosting (and playing in) a mean volleyball game. In my pantyhose. Wait, what? What happened to leaving my pantyhose and pumps at the bank door? And is it better or worse that I’m not wearing them while sitting behind a desk but while playing in a volleyball game? And why am I doing this? Well, the cruise line had a policy that if you were hosting an outdoor event you could wear white shorts, but if it’s an indoor event, you must wear a white skirt with pantyhose (unless of course you’re a man, then it’s optional). And, as I was hosting a craft event in the Lido Restaurant immediately following volleyball, well, this is how it went for months.

Moving on to the glamorous life of an adventure tour guide – aah, where to begin? The tornado hitting the campground? The British passenger getting her passport stolen in Mexico? The other passenger disappearing for a few hours in Mexico? All my responsibility to take care of. And all of this in the same night? How about we just use a fellow guide as an example. Yes, we got to do some fun stuff – skydiving, ultra-lighting, white water rafting, horseback riding with both Cowboys and Indians. That’s where fellow guide AJ ran into a problem. And that problem would be a tree. Well, I guess her horse ran into the tree, she just happened to be on top. When she finished her trip and returned to the office – scratched and bruised – a few days later, our benevolent bosses were kind enough to give her a couple of hours off to get her cracked ribs wrapped by a doctor. She was expected to be back at work after lunch.

The glamorous life of my international tour management career was similar. My group and I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa following an 18 hour flight from Atlanta (two words of advice if you are considering this – Tylenol PM). Finally we landed. We waited for our luggage, and waited, and waited. Eventually the announcement was made, “We apologize for the delay but some of the luggage bay doors are stuck in the closed position.” Really? We made it, our luggage made it, we just couldn’t get to it. While the other tour manager took the group to the hotel, I waited at the airport for the luggage. After two hours, the doors had been opened, South African Airways had loaded the luggage onto a truck and I had been invited to go for the ride to the hotel. I jumped into the truck and we were on our way. Once out of the airport and onto a road overlooking the city the driver popped a tape in his tape-deck and on came the low, velvety sounds of Mr. Barry White. As we’re listening to the sexy tune Cant Get Enough of Your Love, Babe, the driver puts his hand on my leg. Really, I’ve been traveling for 24 hours now. There is nothing attractive about me at this point. I turned to him and simply said, “Dude (I rarely use this word),it’s not going to happen.” Oh but it was glamorous.

Aah, the glamorous life

Fast forward to last week in Anaheim. After working from 6:00am to 10:00pm the previous day, we are sitting on the floor of a hallway in the hotel at 5:00am organizing materials (papers, chachki’s, etc.) which arrived late the previous night, that our 1700 meeting attendees will most likely look at and then leave in the meeting room for us to clean up.

Do I love my work in the travel industry? When it comes down to it – yes. And I hope to go back to tour guiding. But like every job, it has its down sides. And while it beats sitting at a desk, glamorous? Maybe not so much.

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One Response to “The Glamorous Life of a Travel Industry Geek”

  1. Jorn November 1, 2010 at 5:22 PM #

    And for all those years I thought Julie McCoy had the life of glamour!

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