Monday, September 27, 2010

My Weekend or How I Got Screwed by the French

The bags were packed, the plans had been made and it was all systems GO for the mega meeting of summer camp friends in Madrid. Yes, I had planned to take a chance on the "3 months advised" rule hoping that my UK work permit and the fact that I had not one, but TWO jobs to come back to would sway immigration in my favour. Then, the Air Traffic Controllers of France went on strike and my outbound flight was canceled forcing me to put the kibosh on that adventure. That was the first screw-over.

Not wanting to totally miss out on a vaykay, I called my friend Drama in London and asked if I could come crash at his for the weekend. Fortunately, it was simple enough to change my return flight from Barcelona into tickets to London and back. After a delightful dinner catch up with a T Dot pal in Chinatown, it was off to Soho to meet up with Drama at a mutual friend's birthday do.

That night, I must confess I went a little party-mad. It wasn't just the birthday boy who was at the receiving end of complimentary rounds, I was not doing too bad myself. A chance encounter at the bar had lead to some flirty chit chat with a tall and handsome blue eyed stranger. The five minutes at the bar turned into flirty chit chat for the rest of the night once we realised that we were both there for the same birthday party! Huuuum, what are the odds? When we said goodbye at the end of the night, I figured that was it. So it was pleasantly surprising (and quite flattering) when the birthday boy texted me the next morning to ask permission to pass on my phone number to Blue Eyes. 

One text message and phone call later, we were meeting up that evening for dinner, drinks and much more flirty chit chat. And that was the night I got screwed by the French again. Only this time, I didn't mind as much.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Take That Slamming Door!

The reason I had been so skeptical about the meeting with True's manager was because there had been so many others in the past who had taken my details to pass on to their friend/manager/boss/ etc and nothing had come off it. My lovely friend, the beautiful (and totally mentally unhinged) Tigger had also passed on my deets to her manager-lady, but I'd long since heard that standard response Thanks, we'll be in touch. 

Then yesterday I got a call from Tigger's manager-lady inviting me to an interview. Again, I went with little expectations. Again, I was thrown a curve ball as we had a simulation exercise mid way through the interview after which I was offered a job!

Its not anything grand; over-the-phone market research, minimum wage. However, the great part is that I can pick my work days which means that I can still schedule things so that I'm working about 32 hours a week and still have 2 mornings/afternoons off to continue with my research for the G Town tours.

Perhaps I'm mistaken here, but it truly feels like the Universe is finally playing on my team!

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.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

You're Patience is Requested

Dear Readers,
I do apologise about the random nature of my recent posts. I've been trying to catch up, but there's been a whole lotta crazy that's happened right through the summer and also after I got home. There were a bunch of posts that I had to abandon half way through as I fled to deal with some sort of crisis... or merely to the staff room for a (few) pints. Reading over my notes, I am loath to just delete those posts as I feel that they best capture my raw emotions over the summer experiences. However, remembering what I meant by often cryptic words half strung together in a random grouping is proving harder than I thought!

And so, I ask that you please put up with me for a wee bit longer as I try to untangle the threads of the past and catch up with the present all at once. I'm not posting them in chronological order, so sometimes you may have to go two steps back in order to go forward! (A fine mirroring of my life, don't you think?) But, do stay tuned; this will all be sorted soon enough.



Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Another Milestone

Today marks one year since I moved into my twee apartment here in G Town. Through the last year, its been the one constant of goodness. Literally, my place of refuge. And of course Rain Man, my very mental, very sweet and totally crazy flat mate who (amongst other things) introduced me some of my best pals, given me a hug and kind words when things have been down, helped me settle into the city and just generally been an overall great candidate for the Flatmate of the Century award!
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