We’ll find a cure
One Sunday afternoon a long time ago I watched an old film called Made in Heaven. The story revolved around a flitch of bacon which was the prize up for grabs for any young couple, married for a year, who could prove that they hadn’t had an argument since their wedding day.
I couldn’t help but call this film to mind when a newly married couple came in to show us the photos of the wedding we’d arranged for them at Cape Panwa Hotel in Phuket, Thailand.
The whole event looked beautiful and we all murmured approvingly as we scrutinised images of the bride and groom cutting the wedding cake by a heart-shaped ice sculpture, being escorted to the beach by a baby elephant, kissing in the waves and so on. The couple glowed with praise as we admired their outfits and commented on their radiance.
No sooner had the final page of the album been turned than the groom declared that they’d enjoyed their honeymoon in Thailand so much that they were thinking of returning for a holiday this summer, although this time they’d like to see a different part of the country.
With the help of Sharmilla at Sunset Faraway Holidays, we managed to keep within the proposed budget, but I felt duty bound to explain to the couple that the hotels were unlikely to live up to those they’d recently experienced.
“That’s okay” said the man, “we’re fine with that.”
“Oh no we’re not,” glared his wife, who had clearly dropped any vows pertaining to obedience, “why are we dropping our standards so soon?”
“We’re not, really,” replied her husband, “we’re just being realistic.”
This led to a loud snort from the wife and a comment about no longer needing to chase the bus once you’ve caught it.
I laughed nervously and suggested that we could find a compromise.
“Why should I compromise just because he won’t put his hand in his pocket?” she moaned.
At this point I was called away to take an urgent phone call from abroad. I predict trouble in paradise. And no chance of a bacon sandwich!
Help’s (not) at hand…
Because we have the word ‘agent’ in our title, I’m beginning to think some clients out there see us only as facilitators and not as business people who need to turn a profit.
A woman interrupted my telephone conversation to an operator while the client in front of me stared in amazement.
“I need a Thomas Cook brochure,” she bellowed. I put my hand over the receiver and told her that a member of staff would deal with her as soon as one of us became free. “In the meantime,” I whispered, “take a look at the brochure rack.”
I continued with my client and the phone transaction but the woman returned, announcing that she couldn’t find the brochure in question. Again I asked her to wait. She sighed theatricality. I ignored it.
When my client’s booking had been sorted out, I turned my attention to the rude interruptor. I couldn’t readily put my hand on the Thomas Cook brochure, so, while our new recruit Natalie went to find one, I told the client I could use our ‘office copy’ to book her holiday.
“Oh, I’ve already booked it,” she said, “I just need the brochure to see where I’m going!”
Natalie returned minus the brochure and said we’d run out.
Just as my blood pressure began to ease, another woman called in and asked if I could check a Ryanair flight for her as her Internet connection had failed.
“No problem,” I said, “we can book Ryanair for you.”
“Oh no,” she said, “I don’t want to book it with you, I can book it myself. I just want to know how much it is.”
We drew up a list of other not-for-profit requests we’d had that day. Nigel’s client wanted to borrow the folding walking stick Nigel had acquired when he broke his leg skiing, while Penny’s client wanted to borrow a couple of folding chairs for the Jersey Battle of Flowers.
My client didn’t want to borrow anything, but did roll up the trouser leg of her five-year-old and asked if I thought the rash on his leg was mosquito bites or chicken pox.
Do you think we’d make more money if we registered as a charity?
Maureen Hill works at Wessex World Travel, Gillingham, Dorset
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