A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
Yes, today we are heading to a destination that feels light years away. Back to my pre-children life…and specifically, What I Used to Do At Work!
Once upon a time… after I was a struggling waitress, and before there were kids… I used to be a travel agent.
This was back in prehistoric travel times when travel agencies had specific computers that you could access an airlines schedule… via each individual airline (AA, UA, USAir, etc… each entity would set up an office with a terminal… yes, one of those very same clunky old things they had at the airport counter back in Olden Times)
I actually went to “travel school” at the Herman Miller Headquarters in Zeeland, Michigan (taught by the lovely woman who was, at that time, responsible for all their corporate travel). It was curiously a lengthy course, 6-weeks as I recall and it was not free! I think it cost in the area of a whopping $150 (which in the mid 80’s was a good bit of money, at least on “waitress pay!”) Anyway, I remember being more than a bit overwhelmed. Not only was there oodles of things to learn, it was the first time I ever worked with a computer. And there was so much memorization… the most important of which was all the airport codes. (Life pre-Google required a lot of brain bandwidth! lol) If you did not know the airport codes, there was no way to look them up on the computer. Really. So LOTS of memorization and yes, there were tests… about which I remember stressing over… greatly. But I passed and went on to use almost none of the things I learned in the 6-week course (outside of the airport codes) because back in that galaxy… technology was moving at warp speed. (Yes, beam me up Scotty speed!) Within a couple of months of being hired by Pathfinder’s Travel (which is still in operation and owned by the lovely, lovely, lovely gentleman who hired me) the airlines moved from having a “terminal” in our office to allowing travel agents to access their system directly via a DOS computer… (So all the things I learned for ONE airline, I now needed to learn for ALL the airlines… or at least all the airlines that serviced the airports in my area.)
I did a mix travel coordination for both corporate travelers and leisure travelers…both fun but very different clients! However, neither was the reason why any sane person would go into the travel industry. One went for the perks… which back in prehistoric times were really awesome. My office had a regular cache of dozens of tickets – honestly, more than we could use in the time allotted – and they were replenished on a regular basis.
This did not include accommodations, but a couple of phone calls and you could pair a free ticket with free or greatly reduced accommodations, car rentals, and touristy things like museums and this was how I saw a small bit of the world. Literally. Which for a girl from Holland, Michigan, living in a family that did not vacation… anywhere… it was so amazing!
NYC, Washington DC, California. Florida. Washington, Idaho, and a large chunk of Canada. Japan. British ruled Hong Kong. Mainland China (a mere two years after they opened up for tourist travel… which is a story all by itself). The Netherlands, England and Scotland are just some of the highlights of my “work benefits”.
Most of this travel I coordinated with Rachel, Heidi and Sam’s dad… before we had Rachel, Heidi, and Sam… he would be working and if there was a free ticket and I could join him away I went. I liked this kind of travel…last minute, no itinerary, no group… and most of the time it was really just me… he’d be working and I would be on my own. My gosh, good times.
I have had the incredible fortune to stay at places like The Roman Camp in Callendar Scotland (my gosh, it was divine), The Grand Hotel in Amsterdam with all it’s incredible history, The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong, and The Hotel Intercontinental in Kowloon (where we had our own butler… what?!?) with a view of Victoria Harbor at night that was just magical. And I have seen Kabuki Theatre in the Ginza and stayed in a hotel next-door to the US Embassy in Tokyo (When Walter Mondale was the ambassador!)
Sometimes the perks of being just a travel agent were incredible… and they helped build some of the most amazing memories ever. Like the time I went to a koffee house in Amsterdam, but really wanted to be in a coffee house, and the lovely lovely people who enjoyed my faux pax… and just gave me coffee… yes for free. Or the time I decided I wanted to visit the Ueno Park Zoo in Tokyo…during morning rush hour…but how incredibly helpful every single person was to this very naive American…. so helpful that even the rush of workers coming up from the subway all made space for me to make my way down the stairs. Added to those memories were the life skills I learned… how to exciting it is to step outside your comfort zone and be immersed in new things.
Good times… such very good times. (And all before cell phones… yes, you read that right, before cell phones!)
Once we had Rachel… work soon ended. I did not “earn enough” to cover daycare expenses and thus began my life of Being Just a Mom for a good number of years.
And when I finally did go back to work, the travel industry had changed dramatically (with a significant reduction in those perks) and so I set my feet on a different pathway… with fond memories of what once was my my life in a galaxy far far away.
These days, the extent of my travel is limited to a quick trip to Erie… or an annual trip to Michigan. Would I like to do overseas travel again? Yes! There are so many places I’d like to go and see.
A huge thanks to Kym for these Museum of Me prompts!
Have a great weekend everyone! See you all back here on Monday!