Silly complaints

As a tour guide you get used to dealing with a lot of petty issues. There are always passengers who gripe about things and you try to resolve things as best you can, no matter what the problem, because it makes for a better tour.

 

A lot of these issues involve conflict with another tour member and you have to be judge, jury and executioner. I don’t have King Solomon’s wisdom but I have got fairly good at finding common ground and I have got very good at just listening and not saying anything committing, because being heard is sometimes all that they need. Doesn’t mean I don’t roll my eyes hard afterwards, though. And I am totally judging them.

Rarely, I am presented with a situation that makes me want to slap the complainer and one of these types presented to me on this last tour.

Day 1, mind you.

He started out by saying “I don’t want to be a whinger on the first day..”

Immediate internal “Uh oh!” from my partner and myself. Partner responded “Then don’t be. I am not in the mood today.”

Passenger ignored that warning light. “It’s about the guy sitting in front of me.”

Okay, then. Some sort of personal space issue/inappropriate behaviour/health problem?

Not really.

“He’s too tall.”

 

WTF?

 

“He’s blocking my view out the front with his big fat head.”

(For clarification purposes, it should be noted that we practice seat rotation and on this particular trip we had  12 spare seats on a capacity loading of 28.)

There was a moment when my eyes locked with my partner. The words bubbling up on his lips were identical to those being held clamped down by mine: “Well, don’t fucking sit behind him, then!”

 

A more diplomatic answer was given (along the lines of assigned seats just for start of day; feel free to move around; we told everybody this, including you, on day 1) but we made sure that everyday after that he was assigned to that same seat behind the too tall guy.

#lifeontheroad #tourguidelife

 

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Life is good

I think I’m in a good place right now. I don’t write much here any more, mainly because I’m too busy.

Over my brother’s death? No, not at all but I have a very functional life around it and the grief spurts last so much less than they used to.

I have an amazing husband and our relationship continues to go from strength to strength.

I have a job that I love, that takes me travelling all over.

I am very much in demand for work with other companies.

The most exciting thing currently is I am setting up my own business, with my work partner. I don’t know if it will be successful or not but I’ve always wanted to try. It will be worked initially around my other commitments but long term, I hope it brings in enough to support my husband when he is forced out of the workforce (metal worker, you can’t go on doing it until 65/70).

I am forming a partnership with my work partner and we both agree that it is worth putting some effort and money into it.

Unfortunately, this has been a bad year for us moneywise. We paid a shipload for my hospitalisation treatments early on this year (totally worth it, though); and both my daughters needed bailing out from overseas. We’d also committed to an overseas holiday before any of this went down. There’s not a lot of spare cash around right now.

 

I don’t want to take anything out of our joint account so I’ve been saying yes to whatever work offered and banking that money. I’m also using my tax refund cheque when I get it. Hopefully, that will be enough for start up costs and we hope to run our first trip in Tasmania in February.

I’m thinking that I’m crazy because I already work so much but now it will be much more. My husband is supportive it (although he doesn’t think it will work) and knows that I want to try. I’ve always wanted to, actually, but I was never game to do it as a solo operator, which would have meant putting my assets on the line; the partnership is a limited one and outside of all personal assets so I won’t lose my house or car if it all goes belly up.

 

We’ve identified a niche market (extremely important in tourism) and now we want to see if we can make it work.

 

Currently I am at home, frantically trying to deep cleanse my house, sort out cupboards, garden etc. My husband has been amazing about keeping the house clean and I appreciate it so much but he doesn’t do all the regular stuff that needs to be done every six months or so – dusting skirting boards, walls, oiling floors , cleaning ovens and microwave, cleaning out fridge and freezer, sorting out cupboards etc etc. You get the idea. I am to blame really because when I come home from trips I am just exhausted and need the time to recuperate and I scatter my stuff all over.

The day I get back, I have my cousin’s son coming to stay and then I am working locally and then we are off to Canada for Christmas. None of us could face Christmas this year as  it will be the second one Charles won’t be here for and it makes it heart wrenchingly real all over again. He’s really gone. So my mum and stepdad are going on a cruise, my SIL and nephews are having Christmas in the UK and we are going to Canada.

My younger brother is bringing his family out to stay with an old friend of his for Christmas and I’ve offered the use of my car and house. Which means that I need to tidy every wardrobe, cupboard etc and I have such limited time to do so. Their household has a stay at home mother and a full time maid and I know they think our Australian houses are dirty anyway because we were shoes inside. I can’t possibly live up to that standard but I’m trying!

 

In other news, it has been five years since I had a very early grade 1 tumour removed from my breast and I am now on the right side of the statistics – NED. It felt right to mark the occasion by having my nipples re-pierced. I hated taking out the piercings for surgery but they wouldn’t do it otherwise and the holes closed up almost immediately. I’ve tried various times to do it myself (even got my doctor friend to try) and the scar tissue just wouldn’t let it happen. I was inspired by my youngest who had had one of hers done and loved it. I remembered how much I had loved it and I gritted my teeth and went through with it.

 

It was just as painful this time but I’m so happy I forced through it. I look at my breasts and they look like mine again. My piercings and tattoos were so much part of my identity in this post divorce life I built for myself and it feels good to get that missing piece back.

 

I’m off early Sunday morning for my next tour; Kangaroo Island and the Murray River and places over there, a trip I haven’t done before. I was doing some research and looking at the run sheet and I noticed that we passing through the little town of Goolwa. I have a friend there that I met in Alice Springs on a tour and I haven’t seen her since then. So I’ve made the executive decision that we are having morning tea in Goolwa. She was so excited when I told her and said she’d take a couple of hours off work and show me around. That made me laugh.

It will be thirty minutes. We run a very tight schedule on most tours so I can’t make it any longer. Story of my life, really. I’ve made amazing friends in a lot of outback towns but I never have time to see them. Still, I schedule coffee dates wherever I can and this is going to be one of them. Now I just have to come up with a plausible explanation of why we are stopping there, apart from it being of benefit to me!

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Blogging doesn’t happen so much these days

I don’t update my blog much at all. Maybe a post every 3 months. Part of this excuse is that I’ve mainly used the blog to vent on, at times of trouble; the other part of it is that it became a much more commercial exercise and I felt in the forest. Either way, when I’m reasonably content, I don’t ride.o, finger sitoday]]

 

 

My writing was never that great but it was the best catharsis I could ever have had, way back when. Just when the internet was starting, my then husband encouraged me to write a blog to vent my feelings (I’m extrapolating here but I suspect this encouragement had everything to do with wanting me to be less dependant on him because he really didn’t like any emotional issues and wanted somebody else to deal with it. Or he wanted to catch me out with somebody else.)

 

I did make a blog. I randomly connected with a group of strangers that were fairly local (in the same country at least!) and we became a tightknit group. I think that we had all signed up for a certain Australian internet provider because they offered bargain internet and we just randomly bumped into each other.

Started talking, started empathising, started supporting. Pretty soon we all felt that  we had the tightest bond and we were only a supportive keyboard away from each other. Tina was the main mover and shaker in our group. I can’t honestly remember if Tina or CC made the main chat room happen but it did and it was a lovely sleazy cocktail lounge, with lots of options for private rooms.

There was a standing date for cocktails on Fridays and all this meant was a fixed time in front of your computer, with your beverage of choice. We’d live group chat for hours on msn back then. It made me so happy to have a group accept me as I truly am

I left my marriage, exploded and seized, and was supported all the way

 

Nothing bad ever happened between us to sour that contact.

 

Except Trainman. Oh God, Trainman. He got to join the group because he was local (i.e. lived somewhere within the nearest 768 685 000 kms) but he’d just stumbled upon us randomly and he (in retrospective) turned out to be one of the classic frontier internet sleazebags.

He used to regularly online chat with all of us females in the group and we were so anxious to be welcoming and polite that we never even noticed it was just girls. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, right up until he sent copies of his sex novel to all of us females and wanted feedback. Specific reviews, that inquired if it made us wet reading it.

In a wonderful accidental synchronicity, he once got exactly the same response almost simultaneously from every female in the group. That it didn’t make any of us wet and we weren’t quite sure why he even thought that was okay to ask. I personally just got a very real sense of creepy.

We put up with Trainman for a long time before he slinked away for devotee time with his favourite alternative sites.

But the rest of us stayed in touch sporadically. It became more and more sporadic over the years as time got in the way and technology became more specific. There was interacting in real time, online love, and so much laughter

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Confession

I really hate that my stepfather is such a bigot.

 

I hate more that I don’t engage him much about it because it upsets my mother. I am such a coward and I want to hold together what is left of our family and it bangs back on her. But I feel diminished every time I don’t say something: like I am choosing selfishness for our family, over the greater good.

Which I am, but, God, what sort of example am I setting for the next generation?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Guide Truth

I get paid to like you and I really do. But the people I befriend elsewhere in my real life have various categories of like and it takes a lot of history/mutual interest to transcend the crew/passenger relationship.

 

(Well, unless you are a guy and you have a functioning penis. In my life on the road, it rapidly became clear that there was an extremely blurred line in those circumstances.)

 

But for me, I don’t want to invest emotionally in a relationship that I won’t have the time to sustain. I do honestly mean it when I ask people to keep in touch but these relationships invariably fizzle out because they don’t understand why I am not making that much of an effort: the very circumstances (i.e my job) in which we bonded mean that I don’t have the time to put in a 50/50 friendship effort.

But I can’t say to them, “Hey, I want to be your friend but it will be 60/40, 70/30 relationship at the very best.” Very arrogant and, to be honest, I wouldn’t accept a friendship like that, either.

 

Sometimes I feel sad about missing out on friendships with really great people. We both have to accept it is circumstances, not lack of interest.

 

Maybe this is why we develop such an intimate relationship with our work partners? Like a Clayton’s marriage. We bond closely with each other because we need to.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour guide problems

There are quite a few issues that come up as a side effect of constant travel through remote locations. Probably one of the most important is poor health. Evacuating anybody really sick is extremely difficult way out there and so we tend to be maybe a little too cautious at times as regards medical problems.

We have to think of the needs of the group, above those of the individual and this sometimes means immediately shunting ailing passengers off to the doctor, even if they don’t think it necessary. If there is an illness that might spread amongst the group, we need to make sure it isnt contagious.

 

Howevet, I really don’t tend to look at my own health as a priority and it takes a lot of urging to make me seek medical help. Ive damaged myself so many times, in so many ways, whilst working for this company but I will only visit the doctor if thete is a possibility of something infectious.

Or if I feel really bad. My husband says that he knows when I’m really sick because I agree to medical stuff straight away.

This last Sunday, here in Cairns, I woke up very early because I was so cold. A temperature of 40.5C and it wouldn’t come down much, even with medication and tepid showers. It was a bit reminiscent of my salmonella hospitalization last year.

When my partner forcibly marched me down to the medical centre, I didnt argue. A 17 day across the desert camping trip coming up no one needs somebody possibly ill and passing on viruses. And, besides, I felt too out of it to object much.

The thing was, though, I had no other symptoms apart from the fever. The doctor listened to my chest, checked my urine, physically examined me and…nothing.

We’d just come back from a trip up to Cape York. The doctor’s eye lit when he heard that. He immediately wrote a letter to the infectious diseases specialist at the hospital and told me to go straight thete.

Why?

To be cleared of (or quarantined as a result of) typhoid.

Typhoid?!

You’re telling me that I might have fucking typhoid?!!!

I didnt even know that was still a disease here!

Oh, and/dengue fever, although that seemed extremely secondary when compared to typhoid. I do believe it is one of the original plagues.

There were a few nasty hours when I sat and thought about how to tell my boss that I’d inadvertently exposed the entire group, and possibly infected some, with typhoid. I don’t think there would be any coming back from that one and I wouldn’t blame him.

 

Oh my God, it was bad enough telling him that I had animal contracted salmonella last year – I dodged his calls and tried to act like I was at home, rather than the hospital, when he did manage to contact me.

 

God, I come up with some interesting medical possibilities, don’t I?

Anyway, a barrage of very expensive tests later (thank you, socialised medicine),  and I was deemed to be not Typhoid Kitty. Or Dengue Fever Kitty.

The chest xray showed a big lung infection that none of the doctors could pick up just by listening. Although, one said afterwards he could hear my lack of breath when I was talking. He asked me if I hadn’t noticed being really short of breath upon exertion and if there was any pain arou d my chest area.

 

Well, actually yes, now he came to mention it. I’d walked paxs  a very steep hill the day before and I really couldnt talk and walk at the same time. But the thing, those symptoms aren’t out of the ordinary for me. Half my ribcage is fused as a result of my anky spond (arthritis type) and my lung capacity is severely limited as a result. I do struggle to breathe whe  I am climbing hills.

As for the pain, well, the bones and joints fusing together make pain an inevitable part of my life on occasion and I  mostly put up with it if it isnt too acute.

 

 

Nope. No symptoms out of the ordinary.

Im on antibiotics now and the fever has gone. Cleared to leave town, although doc would prefer me to rest.

 

But really? These unicorns of way out, rare, medical possibilities only seem to gallop around me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tour Guide Truth

When we say that your bag is too big for luggage storage, we actually mean that.

You were given size dimensions in your tour information and we don’t care that you called up the office and said it was only a couple of inches bigger and they told you it was okay.

The luggage rack is actually built to specific measurements and your bag being bigger than that means that it won’t fit in. Especially if it has wheels – again, information tells you to bring a soft bag.

You aren’t special and there is no fucking way I’m going to have oversized bags sitting in front of my food stores because they don’t fit it in the luggage racks. I load those racks and I will make sure that your bags fit in. They might have been rigid frame before but I guarantee they won’t be after fourteen days of me making them fit.

Also, if you can’t carry the bag you are bringing on the tour, then you are in for a world of grief. I am not a porter and I won’t move it around for you. I’ve actually stood at a airline luggage carousel and had people say to me ‘How do I get my bag to the bus?’.

My answer is ‘airline trolley and push it if you can’t carry it’; I’ve also been known to say that if they can’t manage the weight of their own bag, that they personally packed, they might just have to transfer things into a smaller bag that they can carry.

If I ever do end up with extra luggage in my cook trailer aisle, due to space issues, you can pretty much rest assured that every time I have to move the bags (because I can’t access the things I need for meals until I do and that is probably five times a day), I will kick the shit out of them. I’ll literally hurl them out of the back of the trailer into the dirt and woe betide anybody that complains about such treatment.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment