Its Ok to admit when you’re NOT ok

image

We all have our personal issues… demons that we wrangle in the deepest recesses of our minds.
Mine? … I question my ability as a mother each day. Friends tell me I’m doing great and I’m managing just fine. Truth?… I feel like I am floundering in a raging pool of perpetual hormones. I’m tired, strung out and in no mood to even have another human being anywhere near me.

I get irate when I hear “mummy” uttered more than three times. I lose my cool when I can’t be left alone for thirty minutes simply to think. I have no patience for stupidity or ignorance. I become distressed and tense if there is uncontrollable mess in my space. I am an impatient, neat freak introvert who has issues with noise and excessive energy.

I ask myself if I am a direct product of my childhood…but while my father was the noise control police and my mother was the neat freak, there was a sort of balance where my childhood was fun yet I was expected to have responsibilities. I would never say that I was screamed at or punished as much as I scream and punish my child.

I berate myself everyday when I hear about parents playing games, snuggling up and doing fun projects with their kids. I wish I could do that…but I just can’t bring myself to. I am tired and I need to have some ‘me’ time. I want to be left completely alone with my own thoughts. Being a parent is more like being an acrobat. I am juggling to keep our life afloat from a financial side. I am wearing the trousers and fighting the current with the rest of the crabs. I carry the stress of my day to day existence like a backpack full of rocks. I can’t for one second take it off and rest because there are neverending bills to pay, groceries to buy and incidentals to worry about.

How can I truly be a parent and fulfill my duties as a mother with the burden I carry day in and day out? I lay in bed tossing and turning praying for the sandman to blow sleep dust in my face….to no avail. I worry about the future…I can’t help it. I try to meditate, I try to pray and I sure as hell try to “let go and let God”. Some days I’m on top of the world and the rest of time I feel like the ground is crumbling and my fucking backpack is dragging me down into the pit of despair.

I don’t want to be the screaming stress- head mom who makes her child cower in a corner. I don’t want to lose my patience over a simple spelling error because I’m freaking out over the expensive school fee and questioning if I’m sending her to the right school. I don’t want to turn into a red faced raging bull if she spills a cup of juice or refuses to eat the food prepared because I know how much I spent at the supermarket, and I can’t afford anything to be wasted.

Ok fine… I admit it…I’m NOT Ok! I may appear strong like an ox and resilient like a mule on the outside…but I cry into my pillow under the cover of darkness and die a little each day. I have lost my youthful sparkle and I can feel myself withering. I’m scared….there I said it…I’m scared I made a mistake being a parent! Judge me if you will…but I’m scared I will ruin my child and her childhood because I’m spending more time trying to make ends meet. I’m trying hard to make sense of my own purpose in this universe while trying to to raise another human being in the process.

I don’t expect a lot and I don’t desire much. I simply ask Life to intercede and help me. Help me to remain calm while the boat is rocking, stay focused while I try to find a secure foothold in the storm and stay strong while the burdensome backpack tries to weigh me down.

I know that this too shall pass and sun will shine on me once again…but for now I say to anyone fighting their own personal demons: the first step to fixing a situation is admitting there is a problem…its Ok to admit when you’re NOT Ok.

Repping in Rhodes Island – good, the bad…the near death. 

After my first introduction to Greece I knew that I felt a connection to the people and the culture. I felt like I belonged.  I knew that my 3rd summer was going to have to be on a Greek island. Thank goodness the Travel Gods heard my prayers..rhodos island.I was headed to Rhodes for 6 months and I was chuffed to bits.

I’m not sure why I always felt I had been caught off guard when I arrive in Greece. Somehow I manage to forget that the toilet paper has to go in the bins, there are no washing machines and accommodation is as basic as a broom cupboard. I forget these major issues…yet I still want to go! Is that glutton for punishment or simply embracing a past life? Whichever it was, I was thrilled to be in Rhodes like an excited child in a candy store!

_Lindos-Streets

Lindos

“Rodos” (as the Greeks called it) is an island which has one of the most infamous places in all of Greece…Lindos! Such a beautiful picturesque whitewashed village perched on the side of a hill with its little cobbled stoned walkways, quaint shops, boutique bars interspersed with traditional tavernas. The beach located in the cove below was probably the best on the island…white sand and crystal clear water that lapped gently onto the shore line. Sounds rather glorious doesn’t it? One small, tiny, itsy little downside to Lindos…it was the HOTTEST place on earth in summer. The temperature would reach to over 100 degrees….in the shade!! If you were brave enough to withstand the heat on that side of the island… Your car tyres may not have. There were instances where the heat was so bad car tyres would literally melt. Yup…some would have said “hell”…but since I wasn’t located on that side of the island… I was in heaven!

The one time I did go to Lindos for a night out with a bunch of reps, I got so blindingly drunk in one of the bars I ended up puking all over the beautiful cobbled stone streets in front of the locals, climbed over some wall, and had to be escorted back to a reps apartment where I passed out until morning. So my one time in Lindos was scarred and I was far too embarrassed to show my face down there again.

Rhodes is a very historical island covered in huge amounts of ruins and old temples. There is amazingly dramatic scenery, picturesque views and overwhelmingly lovely people. There are trips to the nearby island of Symi – home to the worlds finest sponge divers – yes…thats right…’sponge’ which you use to bathe with, originated at the bottom of the ocean. This was a fascinating eye opener for me…learn something new everyday! Not only are they renowned for their sponge diving abilities, but also their shrimp…YUM! Symi shrimp has got to be the most delicious crustacean I have ever had the pleasure of eating in its entirety.

For those people who like cheap bargains such as cheap cigarettes and even cheaper dvd’s, then Turkey is pretty much a hop, skip and a jump away by ferry. Ok…let me rephrase that…on a map it looks like a hop, skip and a jump…in reality it is a stomach churning 1 hour journey that feels more like 3 days. That particular day we went across to Turkey was AWFUL! It was raining, the sky was dark, it was freezing and the waves were strong enough and big enough to rock and roll this giant sized catamaran/ferry boat thingy.

My first 3 months in Rhodes was definitely not hunky dory. My first couple of months was in Kalithea – where I couldn’t drive, so I had to rely on my colleague to get me to my 2 hotels. I was quite close to Falaraki – but the 2 nights I went out there for the entire summer was definitely not all it was cracked up to be. After 2 months there was a ‘rep shift around’ – which meant I was transferred to a hotel in the middle of freaking nowhere in Kolymbia…my view was a mountain.  I was actually the one to beg for a transfer…luckily one of the newbies decided she couldn’t handle the job and left…the Universe answered my prayer and I was moved closer to civilization.

For the remainder of the summer I was based near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rhodes Old Town, in the resort town called Ixia. I was repping 4 hotels that were located along the single main road that led around the island. It was a great spot actually. My hotels were all in a row, there were reps from other companies based nearby (who I got on really well with), and there was a cafe a few doors down from my hotels that served awesome food and had English channels so we could catch up on soaps and shows like XFactor.

I lived in one of my hotels…which was pretty awesome…only from the point of view that I could sneak off to my room early and get reception to call me if guests needed me. Bonus! What wasn’t so great was being on the sane floor as guests…I would literally have to become James Bond every time I walked in and out of my room. I would come out of the elevator and pretend I was delivering a note to my door. I would pause….wait…look around…and quickly open the door and run inside. Coming out was kinda the same. I would stand at my door quietly, crack it open, take a quick peek and bolt out of there like a bat out of hell. The hotel staff used to laugh at me and my stealth moves. I’m sure I entertained them a lot.

Living in a hotel had its perks. I had a clean room. Fresh linens and towels delivered once a week, free meals available on the top floor restaurant, an abundance of friends (all the staff in the hotel), TV with a couple American channels and not very far to go once my day was finished. However the downside was major… No cooking facility…except a kettle. No place to hang wet clothes after hand washing them and absolutely no privacy since every staff member knew your comings and goings at all times during the day and night.

Rhodes

Rhodes Old Town

Life in Ixia was quite peaceful. I enjoyed having meals with my colleague (LT) once a week at a taverna that quickly became our regular dining spot. We would regale each other with stories of our guests antics and we would compare notes on our sales techniques and customer service approach. Sometimes we would go to Bar Street and have our own mini bar crawl. Life in Ixia was quiet because we were the only reps in the area since everyone was spread out across the island.

To be perfectly honest, my season in Rhodes passed without much of an issue… until the end…when I actually waved goodbye to the entire team and watched the hotel I lived in, close down for the summer. It was not by choice I was staying….I had been too much of a procrastinator when it came to to renewing my passport. Now I was literally stranded on a Greek island which was now officially closed for the summer!

For the duration of my stay on the island, I had to find somewhere else to call my temporary home. I had no idea when the passport would turn up – but I knew I needed it to arrive asap. In the meantime, I had to arrange an alternative flight to the UK via Athens (with a 6 hour layover) and I had to find a friend who could pick me up in the UK and allow me to stay with them until I could find someone else to stay with until the winter season started. Sigh!!! What a rigmarole!

Naturally I was a rep…which meant I had luggage…and lots of it! How on earth was I going to get my entire life back to the UK without incurring major costs that would require the sale of my left kidney and first born child?? Luckily enough a local friend of mine suggested a grand idea – and for anyone who doesn’t know about this – its so SIMPLE… I posted my 3 over sized suitcases to the UK for a fraction of the cost of being charged the overweight fee! (It took about 3 weeks – but if you can wait, then I definitely recommend it).

Eventually, after much panicking and worry I finally got my passport in my hand! I can barely describe the relief I felt. After spending nearly 3 weeks eating subway sandwiches in a hotel room, nothing felt greater than being able to confirm my flight out. This was no longer a holiday destination where I was living my dream – the weather had taken a turn for the worse as winter was drawing in quite fast, and it felt like I had entered a nightmare.

I went to bed the night before my flight feeling relieved that I was actually leaving… but I was quite anxious about where I was going to stay and if my friend would be able to pick me up.  I remember quite clearly that I woke up the next morning and my ear was completely blocked and hurting me! I panicked – because I knew that if this had happened to a guest I would have strongly advised they got an all clear from the doctor before flying. Here I was with liquid now draining from my ear, and the mere thought of going to a doctor to be told I couldn’t fly was NOT high on my list of priorities. There was no way in hell I was going to be told I couldn’t fly – I knew whatever I did next would have been a huge risk….

I remember landing in Athens a few hours later unable to hear a sound out of the still draining ear, and in rather excruciating pain. I went to the pharmacy got some drops and cotton, and simply prayed because there wasn’t much else I could do. The layover was the worst part of the entire journey, because this is the point when a raging fever started. I felt delirious, exhausted and so unbelievably cold. Every ounce of energy was starting to leave my body slowly as I waited patiently for my flight to be called. All I wanted to do was sleep. My eyes were burning me, my throat was dry… I knew I couldn’t fall asleep otherwise I would miss the flight. Thankfully after a torturous 6 hours the flight started boarding and I slumped into my seat like a rag doll feeling rather frightened and unsure what was going on with my ear as it continued to drain a funny colour.

I barely remember landing in the UK, waiting for my friend (RG) to pick me up or reaching her parents house. I know I made small talk but I kept dipping in and out of consciousness. I know that by the time I got to her parents house I was burning up and I literally passed out. I remained delirious for what felt like weeks. I couldn’t eat or drink anything…it made me puke. I was burning up on the inside and I had made peace with my Maker…I was just upset my mom didn’t know what was happening to me and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

God bless RG’s mum for taking care of me with cold rags, ice, medication and a trip to the doctors….once the fever had broken. Turns out I had contracted a rather serious ear infection which had damaged my eardrum. I was lucky it hadn’t ruptured…but I was completely deaf in one ear for 2 months….worse feeling ever!

My time in Rhodes was wonderful and thoroughly enjoyable – but my procrastination proved I had to manage my time properly, get organized and stay focused. I changed a lot after that incident – I definitely made sure to check my passport expiry date every year…just in case I had another brush with death.

This too shall pass

winston

Winston (Kapoo)

People walk into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime. Each person has an influence or an impact on your character and your personality. Some help to mold you into the person you become and some are a sign post for who you want to be. I have had the pleasure of encountering so many beautiful souls who have made a lasting impression on me and who have crawled beneath my skin to become more than just ‘friends’…they have become family.

My life has been blessed. Each step I took along a path which seemed unclear and shrouded by darkness, these wonderful souls helped to light the way with their kindness, love and comfort.

I would not call myself religious. I am a spiritual being trying to make sense of this crazy world. I’m simply trying to connect with like minded individuals who I believe are part of my ‘soul group’. We are able to speak the same language effortlessly and easily without disdain, intolerance or sheer ignorance. We are connected by a higher power and even though we are not on the same journey, we are all on the same path of higher level of understanding.

PhotoGrid_1380143870078

Carol and Bryan (Nanny and Grandad)

As I lay in my bed last night doing a little meditation, I had a brief flashback to a time merely 3 months ago when I held the hand of a man I grew to call my step dad….

I was roused out of my sleep at 3am by the nurse who told me to come quickly because my step dad was on his final ascent to the heavens. I remember feeling a huge burden of relief knowing that this was it…he was finally out of his misery. 2 years of pain and 6 months of absolute suffering was coming to an end, and for that I was indeed thankful.

As I walked into the room and I sat on the bed, I held his hand and rubbed his face. He was moaning so loudly with this blank expression on his face. He was looking at me as if he was trying to talk to me…but couldn’t. I kept telling him we would be Ok. Everything was going to be Ok. He needed to stop worrying and walk into the Light and allow the pain to diminish. It was a bizarre 20 mins or so as the moaning ceased, he closed his eyes and started to breathe rapidly. I was unsure if this was the actual end or simply a passing phase caused by the sickness.

It wasn’t until the nurse told me he was gone that I suddenly felt shell-shocked. He couldn’t be gone, I thought. He was only holding his breath. He would soon look at me and give me his usual reply when I asked how he was doing, “never better”. But it was not to be so, because this time, there was no reply…there was just deafening silence.

This wonderful, upstanding, kindhearted gentleman was my mothers partner for 19 years. He loved her with all his heart and soul…and in turn he loved me and my daughter with every fiber of his being. He was a man of few words and a man of even less affection…but his little Chloe was the apple of his eye and reduced him to a big soft-hearted giant. Even though he was a workaholic by nature, he made an effort to rush home every evening so he could see her before she went to bed. Chloe was a blessing for him. He knew that she was a little slice of the woman he loved so dearly, and for that reason he cherished her as if she was his own flesh and blood.

I never properly allowed myself to grieve and mourn his passing. I have spent my time trying to follow in his footsteps keeping everything going. I have ‘manned’ up to the situation and become the breadwinner. I have put my own womanly feelings aside and immersed myself in work and daily chores in an effort to keep my mind off my loss. Last night I was reminded that its not been 3 years…its only been 3 months…and its Ok to feel tired. Its Ok to feel alone. Its Ok to feel lost and confused. Its Ok to cry every time someone mentions his name. I guess I squashed my emotions when my mum died because I was pregnant, and now I’m doing the same thing because I refuse to allow myself to appear helpless.

I have had so many people rally around me offering support…some I have ignored, some I have thanked graciously and some I have opened up to. Weird thing is, no one will ever understand the deep pain and the fresh wound that I try to bandage each day. I meditate, I breathe it out, I release the thoughts and energy into the universe, I burn incense and I pray. I pray everyday for strength. I pray everyday that I make it to the next day. I pray that I can remain calm and unnerved. I pray for peace of mind and determination. Above all, I pray that I will be ok.

I thank God that Winston walked into our lives all those years ago, and I thank Life for blessing me and Chloe with the most amazing man who was our lighthouse in the dark. Unfortunately that lighthouse glow is now diminished…and as I sit in this boat bobbing on the ocean of Life, I try hard to steer me and my daughter to safety and away from the treacherous obstacles. I sit in the boat and I reminisce about all the people I have loved and lost, those who have been my rock when I needed it the most, and those who continue to offer a dim glow which remains as constant as the stars in the sky.

I know that my feelings of distress and loneliness are but fleeting because… “this too shall pass”.

“Mothers Day’ is a commercialized farce

Mothers-DayI know that this blog is long over do – considering Mothers Day was 16 days ago…I think I just got side tracked being a mom! *smile*

“Mother’s Day”… is a celebration of what? To this day I am unsure what “Mother’s Day” is really about. Is it about thanking mothers for being slaves to their children? Is it treating them to a meal to congratulate them on their patience every time the cooking was snubbed and feelings were hurt by her own flesh and blood? Is it the day that she gets pampered as recognition for all the times that she sacrificed her own dreams and her own happiness, so that her offspring were comfortable and content? How does one day out of 365days multiplied by the amount of years being alive make up for all the tantrums, spiteful words, hatred and vitriol that is thrown towards a mother?

A mother is born the moment a child comes into the world. Before that, only a woman existed – a woman who had aspirations for herself, a woman who was living her dream and living by her rules. The moment she becomes a mother she becomes a totally new person, with a new role, a new identity and a new goal. Her child comes first. Their needs must be met, and their wellbeing takes greater priority over hers. She fills her life with patience, love, nurturing, understanding, guidance, balance. She is accountable for all her actions and she must forever be the role model that her child will aspire to become.

A mother works 24/7, 365 days a year, without any holiday or days off. There is no such thing as sick leave, or quiet days. There is no such thing as privacy to bathe or eat a meal by herself. Nothing belongs to her anymore…and if she tries to hide anything, then the child with their super power of sense of smell and eye sight will find it, wear it, consume it, play with it…and inevitably destroy it. A mother owns nothing. She is simply a being that exists for her children to consume with every fiber of their body.

It is embarrassing how little emphasis is placed on mothers and all that they do. A mother should be celebrated once a week – to thank her for keeping the children alive, for not giving up and running away. A mother should be congratulated once a week for being a role model, an inspiration, a motivator and a tower of continual strength. Without mothers the world would cease to exist. Without mothers there would be no future generation. Without mothers there would be no balance.

As far as I’m concerned Mother’s Day is commercialized nonsense! It is a chance to sell useless tat disguised as a ‘Thank you’. It is a chance to capitalize on a single human beings worth. It is a chance to drag the focus away from who the day is supposed to be about, and turn it into ‘who can spend the most money’.

A mother does not want a spa treatment or a new blender. She doesn’t want chocolate or a fancy dinner. She doesn’t want flowers or a card….A mother wants some privacy! She wants to go live her dream. A mother wants to accomplish a goal she put on hold. A mother wants to eat her chocolate without hiding in a cupboard. A mother wants to throw a tantrum and not be viewed as crazy, ‘on her period’ or menopausal. A mother simply wants to be left by herself on this so called ‘Mother’s Day’ celebration.

Aunties, uncles, grandparents, god parents, sisters, brothers – all of these people have helped to mold a child. They have offered support in raising the child at some stage, and they have certainly supported the mother in her endeavors and offered assistance where it was needed.

Mother’s Day isn’t just one day – its everyday, all day…and it involves a generation of family (blood related or otherwise) members working in the background to keep everything and everyone together.

Best article blog article http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/05/fck-mothers-day-with-all-due-respect-adult/

Holiday Rep Life…the things they fail to tell you about Greece!

Life as a holiday rep is awesome! Every 3 to 6 months you are off to an exotic location lapping up the sun and living a life that dreams are made of. Your friends are envious, your parents are excited and you feel like you are on the most fabulous adventure…and being paid for it! What more could you ask for?! As a newbie, they don’t tell you much before heading to toiletresort….to be honest I think we are too overwhelmed to even ask the right questions. The only thing truly worth caring about was getting packed and getting out of the cold, dreary, wet UK as soon as freaking possible!!

Yeah…sunshine and sun bathing all year round?…that’s only a pipe dream kids! These resorts have a winter too! On numerous occasions I got caught out believing it was going to be flip flops and sleeveless tops for 6 months. Oh heavens forbid the company should give you a heads up that it is FRIGGING FREEZING in April/May, intermittently during the summer (depending on the resort), and then totally baltic by the end of August into September! My company windbreaker was my lifesaver many times – I was grateful I had two – sometimes they had to be worn together for better effect.

What was super hilarious was that reps became acclimatised quite easily – so while guests were walking around shirt less thinking the weather was fantastic, there would be a group of reps shivering in a far corner praying their shift would end so they could defrost the icicles which had formed around them.

To be honest, prior to being a rep   I stayed in nice hotels…even nice self-catering apartments in the center of the towns. Wherever I stayed was always furnished pretty nicely (even if it was basic), everything worked, it was comfortable…but who cared…it was only somewhere to have a quick kip before spending most days on the beach and most nights checking out the nightlife. Accommodation for a week or 2 wasn’t something that registered high on the radar…until becoming a rep! As a rep you are no longer a “holidaymaker”, you are now a “local”…and that means you live how they live.

Nothing quite prepared me for my first time as a rep in Greece. I had read the guide books and learnt a bit of the language…but nothing prepared me for the most bizarre situation of my entire life….putting the toilet paper in a bin instead of flushing it!!!! What the hell??? Where the hell had I ended up and what was this nonsense!? Funny thing was even though it took some getting used to, soon you fall into a routine and it becomes quite natural…until you forget that you haven’t taken out the garbage for a while…then the smell no longer seems natural. *yuck*. Yeah – don’t play the fool and think you are going to flush the toilet like most guests did – all the pipes are connected – because the drain in the middle of the bathroom is going to remind you why you shouldn’t have flushed the toilet paper in the first place!!

Greek bathrooms are altogether quite strange, if you have never encountered one before. I will admit it was my first time having to use what is known as a ‘wet room’. For those of you who have no idea what that is – it is quite trendy to have one – but not to me. The bathroom is tiled from the floor, walls and ceiling. There is one drain and it is in the centre of the room (yes…that same one!). It means that you can shower without a shower curtain (usually because there isn’t one) or without physically stepping into a bath tray or a bath – and the entire room can get soaked! To me …that’s just not high on my agenda as trendy, considering I could slip and hurt myself…and nearly did…many times.

Despite this ‘trendy’ bathroom situation in Greece, a reps accommodation is basic. By basic…I really mean empty! I never fully understood the meaning of ‘home comforts’ until I was in Greece. I had seriously taken my flat for granted in the UK. My bed, duvet, fresh sheets of all varying colours, my telly, DVDs, my oven, pots and pans, hot water, a living room…who really thinks about these things in all their wonderful glory? Who even stops to appreciate the wonders of hot water, much less access to a telephone to chat to a few friends? My first rep accommodation was NOT what I thought it was going to be. I wasn’t expecting a palace, but I certainly wasn’t expecting a 16ftx 16ft studio with a single bed, a desk being propped up by a book, a chair, walls covered in blue tack residue, a double hob hotplate (???), 1 pot (?), 1 pan (??) and a small fridge. The sheets were off white and so starched I was afraid they were going to cut me! OH…did I fail to mention there was NO HOT WATER!!!

It was as I was sat on the razor sharp sheets staring at my 4 blue tacked walls…and shivering because I had no jacket (except my poxy windbreaker), I understood why I saw other reps with TVs, duvets and George Foreman grills! They weren’t being obnoxious – they were being serious about their home comforts! I vowed that I wouldn’t go to another resort without some form of electronic device, a few posters to hide the grossness of the walls, and winter clothes!

I believe the pain I most felt was probably the lack of TV and the total lack of English channels (even when I did have a TV). How the hell was I supposed to keep up with Eastenders and Corrie – or watch the latest season of Big Brother?? I felt quite lost – because as a self-professed TV addict I now had to find other activities to keep me entertained. I guess Quiz Nights and Greek Nights at the hotels my colleagues worked at was my highlight…but I still strongly believe it was a ploy by the company…they didn’t want you hiding away having quiet time – they wanted you out and about with the guests building a presence and getting high scores on CSQ’s. *damn them and their conniving ways*

How many of you have turned to your washing machine and give thanks for its existence? How many of you have felt lost and confused when the wonderful machine decides to kick the bucket and you have to wait a couple days for a new one? Now imagine NOT having one of those wonderful machines for 6 MONTHS!! Washing was a major hurdle! It took some getting used to in my first season. I couldn’t believe there weren’t any washing machines! Shock! Horror! I was supposed to wash my clothes for 6 months BY HAND…bent over the basin on of my sink! I remember clear as day that the trick was to only wash the armpit – because sweat and deodorant is NOT a good combination at the best of times on any type of clothing…much less the uniform shirt. Ok, ok…I will own up to my dirty little secret…I don’t think I did much washing that first season…only if it was ABSOLUTELY necessary.

Upon returning to the UK after my first 6 months away as a rep – I felt that I had returned to civilization in more ways than one. I remember standing in front of the aisle of nothing but pure sugary goodness , simply mesmerized by the beauty of the chocolates, cakes, sweets…hhmmmm. 6 months away felt like a regimented sugar-free boot camp. Don’t get me wrong – the Greeks loved their syrupy sweet desserts…but they did not compare to a good bar of Cadburys chocolate, or a gooey crème egg. *yum*. Before being a rep, simple pleasures like buying jam filled donuts at Greggs or bars of chocolate from ASDA were taken for granted. Who knew that 6 months away from such delectable goodness could be so heartbreakingly traumatic?

Despite an initial rough start in a new resort with a new lifestyle to adapt to, I was quick to realise that everywhere was indeed different. Some resorts had British supermarkets, some had English TV channels, some apartments were fabulously furnished (including a washing machine), and some were simply hotel rooms with no windows. The real test as a Holiday Rep was being able to adapt and making the best of what seemed like impossible situations.

Fellow blogger “lisalovessunlife” summarised the basic things you miss as a rep – check it out. http://lisalovesunlife.com/2015/05/19/strange-things-you-miss-when-living-in-the-sun/

Airport duty as a rep…it’s all about “tits and teeth”.

fuerte team

No amount of preparation ever prepares you for that first airport shift, that first coach transfer, or that first complaint. You are even surprised that an entire village/town that was shut for 6 months can miraculously reopen and be prepared for a deluge of pasty white holiday makers eager to see the sun and drink cocktails.

Regardless how many seasons you may work, it will still baffle you why the locals wait until the last minute to tidy up, open up and repair things. As you bring your first coach load of guests into resort you close your eyes and get prepared to make excuses for the mess – until you see that Miguel or Giannis has somehow waved a magic wand and the bar or restaurant or hotel lobby has been transformed into something majestic.

You spend your first 2 weeks trying to communicate with your hotelier by sign language because apparently he doesn’t speak English…until those first guests arrive and you realise that he speaks better English than you do!  All these things are what make a reps life a fascinating life…an envious life…a dream come true.

Life as a rep is about balance. With so many potential reps signing up every season, the turnover can be quite high as the demands of the job increase. But nothing gives you greater satisfaction that lying in the sunshine on a day off and looking out over the ocean and realising that this is your life. This is the life that people want to live every day.

However, once you have acknowledged that an airport shift is par for the course as a holiday rep, you soon fall into a steady routine. On departure days you pick up your flight manifest and check the time of your transfer, look for your pick up point and check the list of hotels that you will pick up on the way to the airport. As you look through the manifest you offer up a silent prayer that you are NOT picking up the miserable sods who spent their entire holiday complaining…because you knew that during your departure speech about csq’s there might be heckling or VERY loud murmuring about how useless you were, how awful their holiday was and how shit the company was….NOT GOOD!

Departures were often times where the most frustration occurred. Panic mode set in at least 5 days before guests were due to leave. They stalked the departure board in the rep area checking flight times and coach pick up times. They asked the same questions everyday they checked…

“Any flight delays?”

“Will the coach be on time?”

“Will we be picked up first?”

“Will there be a rep on the bus?”

“How will we know where to go?”

“What numbers are the check- in desks?”

Guests had this amazing ability to forget they had a rep on arrival, but upon departure they suddenly became needy and frightened. Nearing departure time even grown men had a look of adject terror in their eyes as they tried to act as if they knew what they were doing in front of their other halves.

While the guests turned into frenzied creatures, reps simply became very nonchalant and would often times would reply…

“You only just arrived…yesterday…go enjoy your holiday”

“I will call ahead to the pilot and see if there are any delays penciled into his calendar”

“No! Reps don’t go to the airport in this resort…we prefer to simply wave you goodbye”

“You will be picked up depending on how the driver feels…just be ready”

What would amaze me on departure days was the guests mode of dress. They were heading back to 2 degree weather, but here they were in tank tops, shorts and slippers. There was never any sign of a coat or boots…considering that’s how they arrived…dressed like eskimos!

Upon arrival at the airport it was imperative that you stand clear of the door, the baggage compartment … basically just move very far away from the bus and the guests. They somehow believed that if they didn’t make a mad dash inside the terminal (hitting over everything and everyone in their way) the plane would leave without them. On one occasion I saw a young couple trying to sprint to the check in desk when the trolley got jammed and sent the young man flying over the bags. I must admit I had to stifle a small laugh…before I ran to assist him. Thank God he was Ok, but he was angry as hell that he didn’t make it to the front of the queue. *sigh*.

Departures was either emotional or gratifying. It was emotional to say goodbye to guests who had become friends, but it was gratifying to say goodbye to the ones who had spent their entire holiday whinging and moaning.

Love it or hate it, airport departures was the last ditch attempt to secure high csq scores (if any at all). It was the last moment to make that final impression with your guests in the hope that you could get that end of month incentive. It was here that you patrolled that departure line like a policeman with a grin plastered to your face like a raving lunatic. Its here that you had to remain the most calm as guests howled they weren’t sat together on the plane and cursed you that their bags faced an overweight fee. Curses that overweight fee! In that moment you knew you could kiss that csq incentive goodbye. *face palm*.

If you were a newbie doing your first departure it was like torture. Guests asked questions about the duty free area that you knew nothing about! You had no clue what was on the other side…so you just made it up and made a mental note to ask a senior rep later…

“Oh yes! There are plenty of shops and a great food place”

“Yeah, just check the board for your boarding gate” (you hoped to hell there was one, and not just a Pablo shouting the boarding call)

As the last guest bids farewell and heads through those departure doors you wait with silent trepidation…you pray that you don’t hear those terrifying 4 words…”the flight is delayed!”

What…the…hell…happens…next?? This is the only thought you have. You hope and pray its not a ‘technical fault’ which cannot be fixed until they fly a technician in on the next flight…because that would only mean one thing…and one thing only…organizing overnight accommodation for over 200 guests at extremely short notice!

I can recall dealing with 2 overnight delays as a rep, and numerous longer-than-expected delays. I swear that I would take an overnighter any day of the week over having to go through to departures and face 200 pissed off guests! The one and only time I went behind those sacred doors I was faced with the angriest mob…I was encircled with no way of escape. They demanded compensation, they demanded food, medicine and answers!
Nothing will ever prepare you for a delay…but it is inevitable in at least one season abroad.

No two days in the life of a holiday rep will ever be the same. Its full of moments that either make or break you. But one thing is certain…those of us who hung up that clipboard and moved on, look back on those days with the fondest memories…and we wouldn’t have changed the experience for the world.

The start of Summer season for all Holiday Reps

reps 2May 1st was the official start of the summer season for holiday reps dotted all over the world. It was the day that the first flights and the first load of holiday makers arrived. No amount of preparation ever prepares you for that first airport shift, that first coach transfer, or that first complaint. You are even surprised that an entire village/town that was shut for 6 months can miraculously reopen and be prepared for a deluge of pasty white holiday makers eager to see the sun and drink cocktails.

Regardless how many seasons you may work, it will still baffle you why the locals wait until the last minute to tidy up, open up and repair things. As you bring your first coach load of guests into resort you close your eyes and get prepared to make excuses for the mess – until you see that Miguel or Giannis has somehow waved a magic wand and the bar or restaurant or hotel lobby has been transformed into something majestic.

You spend your first 2 weeks trying to communicate with your hotelier by sign language because apparently he doesn’t speak English…until those first guests arrive and you realise that he speaks better English than you do!  All these things are what make a reps life a fascinating life…an envious life…a dream come true.

Life as a rep is about balance. With so many potential reps signing up every season, the turnover can be quite high as the demands of the job increase. But nothing gives you greater satisfaction that lying in the sunshine on a day off and looking out over the ocean and realising that this is your life. This is the life that people want to live every day. Here you are living the dream. A dream that is now a reality. Embrace that reality, enjoy every moment of that reality and savour all the memories the season has to offer.

I had written this blog before, but now the season has started, it’s only fair to revisit the all too familiar scene that is the airport…

You could always spot a holiday rep at the airport. They were usually pushing an overloaded trolley which had 2 grossly oversized suitcases, a brand new duvet, a small television and more often than not, a George Foreman grill perched precariously at the top of the pile. We took the term ‘creature comforts’ literally – especially if we were newbies. I can guarantee by the end of the season however, that tv was being used as a table, and the grill was probably holding up something that had fallen down…like the bed.  By the end of the season we realized that there was no need for half the things we brought – including the 20 pairs of shoes ‘just in case’. Every season that ended we vowed to NEVER carry so much stuff. Inevitably every season that started, our suitcases were heavier than before – and instead of 2 – they suddenly multiplied to 3 or 4. I don’t know about anyone else, but I envied the reps who were doing second seasons in the same place – why? They had left all their stuff behind knowing they would be back, and there they were, breezing through baggage claim with a cute little hold all. Curses my overloaded trolley and my blistered fingers!!

A newbie rep is fresh and green. Totally unaware of the perils that lie ahead. They are innocent and naïve, and they honestly have no idea that the moment they walk through the arrival doors looking all giddy and excited – their fate is sealed. No amount of training will ever prepare you for the doom that is ….. AIRPORT SHIFT!!!

A newbie rep turns up to their first airport shift looking all smart. They open the cellophane packets that have kept their uniform pristine and neat. Excitedly, each item is unfolded and put on in a sequence. The final piece to complete this fabulous look are the shoes – the oh so wonderful court shoes! Every season the instructions are the same when it pertains to the style of the shoe! Shoes on, ensemble complete and feeling great! Board the coach to the airport and the shift commences….

..… 12 hours later those same newbie reps look like they were steam rollered, bulldozed and then scraped up and thrown in the garbage. No amount of prep could have prepared them for reality of an airport shift.

Every season we were instructed to wear a specific style and shape of shoe as part of our uniform. We were told the heel should be a specific height – and yes, the height and the style of that shoe does make you look more like Daisy Duck instead of Daisy Duke. But it’s the company policy for a reason. The reason is not quite clear until you have your first airport shift and you spend roughly 12 hours…standing! Those sexy spike heeled shoes or the ones with extra length in the heel ARE NOT SUITABLE SHOES!!! At the end of the shift feet would curse obscene language, refuse point blank to take another step. Blisters developed…and mutated into at least 3 more! If you dared to make the mistake of taking those shoes off for only a second – forget it! Those feet would fight to the death to go back in. As a more senior rep at the time (after having my first, and ONLY, shoe-catastrophe), I would see the glances from the newbies as they eyed my rather unstylish and hugely unflattering footwear. The joke was on them though, because I knew they would be begging for mercy in another couple hours – *cue evil laughter*.

Airport shifts were hit or miss… and most of the time it felt like sheer chaos and mayhem! Depending on the resort and the country, it would be more senior reps trying to coordinate buses, drivers, flights, delays, guests, reps…total mess! However, if you had the pleasure of working in Tenerife, you had fallen from hell into heavens playground! Tenerife airport was managed with precision. It was structured, orderly and efficient. Every shift – even if there were delays or long hours – was a pleasure to work. The airport was a nice comfortable size. It wasn’t horrendously humungous like Mallorca airport and it wasnt a tiny tin can like Thessaloniki (Greece). It was an airport that was easy to get from point A to point B, and not feel like your feet were waving the white flag of defeat.

We become reps because we go in search of continuous sunshine… that wonderfully intense heat that could dehydrate a donkey and leave him dead on the edge of the road. However, being a rep this was how it felt wearing the full formal uniform in the height of summer…like a dehydrating donkey. The summer heat was unbearable and the sweat that flowed was unstoppable. Can you imagine, we would have to endure that heat and then present at our welcome meetings and hope to god that the sweat stains on our shirt were not off- putting to our new guests. I remember many occasions when it was time to turn the flip chart, I didn’t! I knew if I raised my arm I would only be endangering my safety. The guests sitting there in their bikinis and shorts made us look like sweating pigs in a meat shop. As lovely as that glorious sunshine was, and as much as we craved its warmth compared to the bleakness of the UK, we knew our limits when we were scared of our own sweat.

With the heat of a blistering summer sun beating down on us as we stood in the coach park directing guests to the right buses, we could feel that first bead of sweat form on the brow and start a slow descent down the forehead. Once that first sweat bead was formed it acted like a signal blower to the sweat bead army, because within seconds the entire body goes damp. But that sweat bead army had an alternative agenda. They knew we could handle a little body odour, but they knew that we couldn’t handle one thing in particular…stink shoes!! Oh man!! Rep work shoes were to be handled with caution…preferably wearing a hasmat suit. No amount of spray, sunning, baking soda or stockings/socks could rid those shoes of the funk that emanated. I remember I had a pair that was so stink – I felt embarrassed talking to guests. The stench was so bad it was like a big old elephant was sitting there staring at us. Granted, the guests did bid hasty retreats mid conversation when that elephant decided it wasn’t moving…I guess the stink shoes did have its merits after all (SMILE).

Irrespective of the burning shoes, the sweltering heat and the stink feet – Airport duty was kinda fun. It was an escape from sitting in the hotel dealing with complaints or listening to some of the guests moaning about the breakfast and why the bacon and sausage weren’t English. It was also a chance to catch up with other reps based outside of the resort. Above all it was a chance to scope out the ‘fresh meat’, potential hotties, and suss out which guests were going to be big spenders, tight wads or whinging gits.

As I had mentioned before, most of the new arrivals were gormless and lost. They confused their name with the hotel they were staying in, and they thought their name was the airport they were coming from. They were confused little creatures in need of great assistance. Problem was, reps had a practical joke side – and instead of assisting the gormless lost fools – they would often send them on a wild goose chase looking for non-existent coaches.

As the new arrivals started to come through, it was ‘’tits and teeth’’ (chest out and BIG smile) time. We were poised and ready for action. With clipboards high in the air, loud voices boomed through the airport as eager holiday makers pushed and squeezed to get to the first rep they saw. They were like prisoners making a mad dash to freedom. It was there in the arrivals hall that outlined the rest of the week for the reps. It was the arrivals hall that determined whether or not the preceding week or two, were going to be shitty. It was here that the inevitable issues would begin – and if it started with lost luggage then forget it… simply be resigned to the fact that the rest of the week was going to be a total nightmare.

No matter which flight came through those doors, the questions were always the same…

“How far is it to my hotel?”

“Will we be dropped first?”

“We are staying on a platinum package. That means we HAVE to be dropped second! Will you make sure we’re dropped off second?”

“How long do we have to sit on the coach and wait on other guests?”

“Does the bus driver speak English? Does he know where I’m staying?”

“Does the coach have air conditioning? We need to sit at the front”

No matter the resort, no matter the country, no matter where in the UK the guests arrived from – they ALL thought the same, spoke the same and behaved the same.

The airport was where every season started and ended. It was an integral part of our lives, and if we weren’t in a hurry to escape a particular resort, then it was also the place where the most tears were shed as we said good bye to strangers who had evolved into close friends.

Have a wonderful Summer 2015 to all the reps – new and old. Live the dream!