Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Doors Slamming, Windows Opening

It's only the very foolish who would think that once things start to go well, nothing but good will follow. There's still going to be things that will go askew. Its a cosmic reality. 

Being a tour guide was supposed to be my dream job. A combination of history, storytelling and being touristy; would anything else fit as well for me? It was all I had ever wanted in a job.... and then some. I worked hard to get in and spent countless hours doing research, putting together the perfect script, tapping into the inner actress to hone my storytelling skills. It was a proud moment when I lead my first group and I was so excited that I could barely stand still!

But not all was sunshine and lollipops. The company had a strict minimum 20% repeat rate that every tour guide had to maintain. The higher the repeat rate, the better the shifts you commanded. Also, living in G Town and having to commute over an hour to Edinburgh each time was also taking a toll. Both physically and financially. There were days when I'd travel there but the tour wouldn't run. Other days, I'd bust a gut for a group, but they wouldn't bother tipping, so I'd run at a loss. And let's not even get into the joys of having to lead a walking tour during a Spring downpour! Still, I persevered and gave it my all. Even so, my repeat rates were hovering dangerously close to the minimum threshold; I was in danger of loosing the one job that I'd wanted more than anything else. When I left for England at the end of June, I wasn't sure if I would be coming back to guiding. I was right. On getting back, I tried to contact the manager and team leader to ask to be put back on the rota. Emails, text messages, phone calls... all went unanswered. After two weeks of trying, I gave up. A few months ago, such a blow would have reduced me to a blubbering mess of tears, but not now. I took it as a sign that it wasn't meant to be. I'd given it my best shot and I'd truly enjoyed the 2 months that I'd spent as a guide. Also, I wasn't quite sure I wanted to continue working for a company that wasn't even professional enough to call and let me know that there wasn't a spot on the rota for me. That was just plain bad business manners.

Fast on the heels of that disappointment, came the Spanish debacle. A meet-up of friends from summer camp had been planned for Madrid and I was to head off to San Fernando and Barcelona after that. But that too t'was not meant to be. First there were problems with my passport as I had two months left on validity and the Spanish Embassy's website stated that it was "preferable" that there were three months validity. This would mean that I'd be at the mercy of the immigration officer upon arrival, and we all know just what wonderful souls of humanity they are. The last straw was this morning when I got an email from the airline stating that my outbound flight has been cancelled due to a Air Traffic Controllers strike in France. Flights scheduled to fly through French airspace have been diverted and those that cannot have been cancelled. I'm taking it as another sign.

That's the doors slamming part. Now, for those slowly opening windows.

Firstly, I'm going to get my documents together and apply for a new passport. I've saved the money on the outbound flight as the airline gave me a full refund. I've taken the money from the return flight and applied it instead to a return ticket to London for this weekend. If I cannot have a full on holiday, I'll take a mini break for a fun weekend with my pals. Also, I have a friend from the T Dot who's currently visiting London and it will be nice to catch up with a homie!

As for the dream job, well, I have a bigger and better plan. It may sound totally crazy, but here it is: I'm going to start my own tours right here in G Town. I already know that there's a huge gap in the market for walking tours aimed at the backpacker population. None exist. I've looked online, spoken to hostels and hotels and spoken with the tourist information services. There's the hop-on-hop-off bus tours, but that's it. I already know much of the history of the city and Scotland in general. Friends who have visited me have already benefited from a rough version of a G Town tour. I know I can do this. I WANT to do this. It will take hard work, long hours and loads of patience on my part, but I'm ready for it.

I'm taking charge and I'm making sure that the window opens. Heck, I'll bust a new one into the wall if I have to. This is one dream that will not be allowed to just slip away.


The Bride said...

What exactly is repeat rate? And yeah, the company not letting you know, even via email, that your services aren't needed is weird.

Anonymous said...

Go get em! Perfect, perfect, perfect and very exciting. Can't wait to hear more.


The Pixy Princess said...

@Bride - a repeat rate is a measure of how many people who go on the walking tour who return to go on one of the paid tours. It became more about the sales pitch and less about the quality of the tour. Didn't quite like that.

PP - thanks hun. I'm sure there'll be loads of ranting on the blog over the next few months... so yeah, stay tuned! :)

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