Part of my job, is working evenings and weekends. I know at face value, that may not seem all that appealing, but I have a fantastic front row seat for some amazing sunsets and sunrises, like this mornings, pictured above. Last night, it was a front row seat for an awesome shooting star streaking from east to west across a southern sky, which I only got to see because the Calgary skies were finally clearing out after 2 weeks of crap.With a drawn out 10 seconds as it crossed the sky, I made a wish, but if I told you what it was, it wouldn’t come true! So instead, I thought I would blog because I have failed to share my stories for almost a year. What can I say….being an awesome single dad takes more time than I thought :)
I am thinking though, that perhaps my wish should have been for more courage. In the movie ‘We Bought a Zoo’, Matt Damon says “All you need is 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise something great will come of it”. Last weekend marked the 1 year anniversary of my separation and I still find myself doing the Snoopy happy dance, for reasons I cannot explain, at least not here. Maybe this is why I have taken the first steps towards insane courage in recent weeks. Baby steps, because I am not quite ready for insane courage just yet. MisterYYC recently said on Twitter: “You have no control over how anyone feels about you. Represent yourself well, and all the rest is needless worry”. I have never been a ladies man…..not that confident bad boy so many women seem to desire. But I think I have generally always represented myself well. I am proud of the man I go home with at night so for the first time in my life, I think it is time for courage. I think many of you might be able to relate in some way, and hopefully I can inspire a few of you to join me in taking some sort of 20 second risk. My story might be a little boring or irrelevant to some of you, but I think there are some valuable thoughts near the end (skip to confession #3)
Back in February, I went to a Travel Expo because I wanted to take my kids away somewhere as soon as I could. I was in the honeymoon phase of divorce, unsure of so many things, including how much money I had to spend on a trip that I felt my kids deserved, as did I. I was trying to get a great deal for a great holiday because I hoped to be able to take them on a second trip within the year, which hasn’t come together as quickly as I had hoped. I went to the Travel Expo unsure of where I wanted to go, what it would cost, or what to do. The Expo, and a beautiful travel counsellor helped with that.
Unfortunately, with the nature of the travel show, and my need for specific dates, it was difficult for the counsellor to help me on the spot. Had we found something at the Expo, for the dates I was looking for, I would have booked it, but we were having a hard time with my date range which meant followup in the days and weeks that followed. It had been a long time since I last had expressed interest in a woman, and furthermore, my objective was to book a trip, not get a date, so I did not pay much attention to her business card, hence work location, as much as maybe I should have. We exchanged many emails, a few of them flirty on my part, but there was often a lengthy delay in reply, or at least what seemed lengthy to a demanding customer like me that wanted to travel within weeks. It turned out that she was in a retail location in a shopping mall, so to my ignorance, had to deal with walkin clients, in addition to her regular customers and responsibilities as an Assistant Manager. Because of the delays, I began doing considerable research on my own.
Confession #1. It didn’t help that I know a bit about the travel business and that many agencies deal with selected wholesalers and that those rates used to be great, but since the recession hit the US, both hotels and airlines have been offering significant discounts, often below brochure prices, making the job of a travel agent that much more difficult with people like me. I would say that I can beat a travel agent price most of the time, for the destinations I want to go to within North America. But it takes a lot of work, and often it is worth paying the extra money to have an agent to do that work, and likewise to have someone to call if you run into problems. And don’t get me wrong, there are some great deals available exclusively through travel agents as well, and travel experience you can benefit from, and I find great value in a good travel agent. But travel agents are like realtors; There are some that are really good, and will work really hard and they will get you those great deals that I can find, and some that do the bare minimum, and the brochure price is the price. In both cases, I will only deal with great ones, but I didn’t even give this one much of a chance :)
Confession #2. Even after the Expo, I wanted to book with her, I sincerely did. I know commission based pay can suck for travel agents, I used to be one. If someone does the work, they should get paid. When I originally wrote this blog a few hours ago, I thought she had stopped replying to me because she could not match the prices I had. I suspected she thought I was one of those tire kickers that she would pour time into and it wouldn’t pay off. I thought things fell apart. In fact, I wrote this whole blog based on that belief. But after originally posting this blog, and sending it to her, I went back and reviewed emails to discover that we simply could not make it work because I was an idiot that couldn’t figure out she worked in a mall location, and should have gone to see her in person! (Oh crap!) However, I was panicked to book that day. I can’t remember why, but I went to another travel agent I knew that day, who also happened to be attractive and going through a divorce. (Lucky me!) I had all my research, and my direct flights, which I had already booked at a significant discount on my own. It turned out that this other travel agent had been to the exact resorts I was considering, but could not match my prices. To her surprise, I paid the extra $130 to book with her because I felt better having a travel agency to fall back on if I had a problem going to a foreign country, and she had secrets from being at the resorts I was staying at. But I cannot help but feel it should have found a way to book through the agent I met at the Expo, particularly after I sent beautiful flowers to the travel agent I did book through, and she did not even call to say thank you. (Unlucky me – she might be single for a while)
A few weeks ago, there was another Travel Expo by the same company. I went again, looking for new ideas, and well, curious if ‘she’ would be working it. I could not book anything as I had some upcoming work uncertainties, but was seeking information. She was there, but I couldn’t possibly waste her time until I knew what my work commitments were, and I wasn’t sure what to say. I was not sure she would believe my intentions were sincere and that I was not trying to take advantage of her knowledge and experience. I sure wish I had reviewed those emails before tonight! (I am a man, I am stupid, I guess)
Confession #3. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest, I really wanted to book with her because I found her attractive. Whew, I think 20 seconds just started. If I have learned anything in the last year, its that I am not looking for love, but instead building relationships because love will come when the time is right. Online dating services are doing booming business because people don’t know how to talk anymore. People don’t know how to meet anymore but I just cannot imagine that online dating is in my foreseeable future. I think dating is all about networking, and building relationships, much like the travel consultant business.
A year single, and I haven’t started dating yet, and in fact, most of my friends and co-workers don’t even know. Instead I spend my time bettering my community, and raising the best kids I possibly could. I am a guy trying to change the world, one person at a time, starting with my kids, and I have decided I now need to work on me. On my shyness, on my insecurity, and on being healthy.
I cannot imagine what any of you are thinking right now, as all of you, including her, are pretty much complete strangers. (And lets be honest, that sure makes it easier to post this!) But I can tell you that this post is really about me, changing who I am, taking a few risks in life. Yes, men can change. Frankly, on paper, I am an awesome guy. Now I am just working on the packaging and the marketing and this post is just one of the many learning steps/risks I am taking. So why I am sharing this with strangers? I hope to inspire others to join me and take a risk. More importantly, I hope some of you have packaging and marketing tips! What do you have to lose? It only takes 20 seconds of insane courage!
My last words to M. D. If you are reading this, I am sorry if I offended you at all. After re-reading those emails, I don’t think I did, but it doesn’t change that I feel bad for the time you spent. More importantly, I hope I haven’t offended you by writing this blog, but I think I really needed to do this. I haven’t been drinking, but it is possible I will change my mind in the morning. I don’t expect to hear back from you, or any other readers, but I hope the door is open when I want to book that next trip; you said it was, and somehow I missed that until moments ago. I don’t even know if you are single, but like I said, my life is about building relationships right now so it doesn’t really matter. But I hope some day, I can buy you a drink or a coffee, and talk more about you since you now know quite a bit about me.
Anyone is welcome to post a comment to this blog. There should be a “Leave a reply” box at the bottom of each page. I have had awesome feedback with only one exception, so I look forward to reading YOUR comments :) Keep reading http://twentysecondsofcourage.ca for more stories.