Episode 28: Tui Story

“Good morning, welcome to the Hotel Blah-de-blah, I’m your TUI team leader and my job here is to make sure you all have a fantastic holiday here in Fuengirola”

And so the welcome speech begins, again.  I’m sat watching from the sidelines, smiling like a Madame Tussaud’s waxwork and trying not to spill the complimentary Orange Juice down my blouse.  There are six of us clad in Blue, awaiting our introduction alongside the Blanket Trip representative sporting a canary yellow ensemble whom I fear may be nodding off before our team leader even reaches the merits as to why you need to book your trips with us as opposed to the half price bucket shop down the road.

Our TUI Team

I look around the room. The average age of the clientele is around 93 and there’s no guarantee all of them will make it to the end of the 50 minute speech.  The air conditioning unit wheezes into life and jolts awake several elderly patrons, reminding them that they are on holiday and need to stay conscious for at least some of their pensioner’s vacation.

I catch the eye of one of the entertainments team and we wink at each other in unison. These youngsters are the glue that holds the hotel together, performing west end worthy shows in the evening after a day of interacting with the guests in various activities around the pool.  They know the score; all of them have been hired following extensive auditions in the UK to ensure everyone has a great time onsite.   Scores for the hotel must remain high because if they chose to do another season with Tui, their next curtain call could be in Florida as opposed to Fuengirola.  Point’s makes prizes; the constant carrot dangled in front the TUI employee’s nose.

I’m sure when they applied for the roles; wide eyed and fresh out of drama school they didn’t envisage a day of shuffleboard and French boules adorning their crispy white untarnished CV but this is the reality of most actors worlds and like all professionals, they rise to the occasion with a smile and a caffeine laden drink.

I look up towards the ceiling and wipe sweat off my menopausal brow.  The meeting is well into its stride.  Pickpockets and prickly heat have been touched upon, train timetables are being hastily noted down on welcome packs and we are rapidly heading towards the bread and butter of the speech, excursions.

I think back to the past month and try and remember which inland adventures I have attended, each one morphing into the next.  Museums, mosques, mountains, information overload.   Sitting on a coach at 8am each morning, watching the younger reps vomit into their rucksacks after an alcohol fuelled outing the night before.  Patting their inexperienced backs and trying to keep them away from the incredibly young area manager who joined us each day on the tours.  Fighting the desire to yell ‘I’ve got cheese in my fridge older than you’ whenever he pointed out an obvious fact regarding how we were expected to behave in front of the paying guests also on the tour.

“And now Paula is going to come up and tell you about Romantic Ronda! Gentleman, you can go to sleep now”.

My name breaks through the deluge of memories and drags me back into reality.  I stand up and brush invisible crumbs of my skirt and head over to the rostrum and smile encouragingly towards my ever deflating audience.  All these people who sit before me have come for a nice holiday and not to listen to middle aged reps wax lyrical on how they should spend their money.  With this in mind I take a deep breath and perform a short comedy monologue on Riotous Ronda and then return to my seat, applause rings around the room as the team leader brings the meeting to a close.

Dragging my Tablet out of the bag I fire it up and stand at the table nearest to exit awaiting the arrival of any guests that fancy spending their hard earned cash on a trip to Morocco or Marbella.

Barbary Macaque – Gibralter

An elderly lady pushes her way through the ever decreasing crowd and waves a shaky finger in my direction

“Jane Macdonald, that’s who you remind me off, I bloody love her on that cruise programme”

Smiling I lean down and whisper conspiratorially “It’s a shame I haven’t got her money.  Now, can I interest you in a nice day trip to see the apes in Gibralter?”

To be continued…

 A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.

Episode 27: Banger Management

8 months  later…..

“No seriously, does my arse really look like a giant blue beach ball in this TUI uniform?”

My husband, always grateful that the subject matter isn’t about doing any more unnecessary DIY in the apartment turns towards me and looks me carefully up and down

“It’s definitely more flattering than the yellow one you wore last year on that bed promotion thing you did.  Anyway, stop preening or you’ll be late on your first day. Have you charged the tablet up and downloaded all those Apps?”

I nod nervously.  Me and technology aren’t the closest of allies. I can work out Face Book, E mails and how to buy crap on Amazon but apart from that I’m useless.  My palms start to sweat with the thought of a thousand unhappy tourists staring at me while I jab helplessly at a computer screen that insists on saying ‘no!’

Looking into the mirror I smooth down the man made fibers and hoist the Rep bag over my shoulder. Amongst all the truly talented bilingual candidates, 51 year old me was offered the position of part time representative for TUI in one of the biggest hotels in Fuengirola and I was not going to let my larger than average posterior put me off my new career.

“Right, I’m off then, see you after you finish work at the Theatre” and I happily head downstairs to my trusty Vespa.

Within ten minutes I’m standing uncertainly outside the entrance of the hotel. I had worked the same place last season, but that was promoting free blanket trips to elderly people but this season I was the face of TUI.  The buck stops with me.  Painting a smile on my heavily made up face I march through the front door and spot my Team leader lounging on the sofa, writing out welcome packs.

Clearing my throat I hold out my hand and become the person I know the company wants me to be.

“Hello, I’m Paula; I’m your part time team mem….”

“Whoa  whoa whoa…Part time? Part time? I need a full time rep here, this just isn’t on!” and with my hand left hanging in mid air he grabs his works phone and marches past me through the front door and out of sight into the street.

This wasn’t exactly the reaction I had been hoping for so I stand uncertainly by the desk, fingering the various flyers and looking at the airport departure board for divine inspiration.

“Oh hello, can you help me?” an elderly voice cuts through my reverie

Pasting a smile upon my lips I turn around to see a lady of about 90 years old sporting a tiny fluorescent bikini and wearing the brightest pink lipstick (albeit mainly on her teeth) that I have ever seen.

“I appear to have lost my husband. I sent him down to get me a sausage over half an hour ago and he’s not returned to the room. They ran out of sausages yesterday, I had to have bacon, I don’t like bacon, to be honest, I don’t really like sausages but I don’t like to queue for an omelet”

Placing a look of concern on my face I nod in sympathy but before I have chance to solve this modern day dilemma  I see my colleague march back in through the front door, anger etched into his olive skin.

“Er….. This lady appears to have lost her husband on the way to the buffet breakfast; he went for a sausage and hasn’t been seen since.”  I smile beseechingly for help from my mentor; I’m not yet au-fait with the protocol of missing OAP’s, or the lack of reformed Pork if I’m honest.

“Have you looked in the lift Mrs. P? He was in there yesterday morning wasn’t he? Talking to the chambermaid on the 14th floor about the benefits of Aloe Vera?’”

The guest looked confused and then realization dawned like the early morning sun through heavily advancing hazy clouds.

“Oh so he was, I’ll go and have a look for him up there, I do hope my sausage hasn’t gone cold though….”  and off she wanders, mumbling to herself about pork products and wayward husbands.

I turn to my colleague who has resumed his position on the sofa and take a deep breath

“Look, I don’t know what you were expecting but I can promise you this, I’ll work hard and the guests will love me.  Surely it’s better to have a really good part timer than an utterly rubbish full time one?”

He looks at me through narrowed eyes then takes a deep breath of resignation.

“Those welcome packs won’t fill themselves”

Smiling to myself I lift the mountain of leaflets from the table, salute with a cheeky grin and get to work.  

To be continued… Episode 28

A New Wife in the Sun is available for proof reading, wedding speeches, radio presenting and anything that involves not having to smile at people for any amount of time.