I began my job with Sunworld as a transfer rep in the Summer of 2004. I worked Saturdays and Sundays doing many, many coach pick ups and drops offs to the airport. I was terrified about the little bus spiel but realised I could do it sitting down with my back to the crowd so it wasn’t too difficult. The hard part was rounding up the people on your list for the night time collections. I had to prise microphones out of drunken guests’ hands mid I did it my way and shove them physically onto the bus. I witnessed girls in signed Jimmy’s vest tops clinging onto their holiday romance, mascara running down their faces as the guy tried to prise her off him and give her a little push on to the bus so he could go home and shower in time to meet the next bus of “fresh chickens”. I’d see many the Turkish guy in the rearview mirror frantically texting his next hook-up.
Possibly a trained sheepdog could have done the same job herding the masses into the airport and getting them to form an orderly queue. Then the drama of excess luggage charges would arise; a couple of sun wizened oul wans would start shouting in raspy emphysema-riddled voices (chain smoking L&Ms for the week) “where’s the rep?” and when you got to the check in counter they’d throw you the filthies and point at the pretty Turkish check in assistant…”she’s bleedin tryna charge us €200 for our bags”.. I’d look at the frazzled girl and we’d both be thinking the same thing in different languages (here we fucking go again).
I’d eye up the women’s bulging genuine-fake Gucci suitcases and then the scales which read 40 kilos per bag. I’d start off patiently.. “you’re only allowed 20 kilos”. “Wha? No one told us tha, I’m ringin Joe Duffy”. Deep breath; “I said it on the bus on the way to and from the resort and at your welcome meeting, it was also printed on your tickets.” “We got a taxi with Mustafa and we’ve our own house here so we didn’t hear ya say any of tha” “Right, so you’re not even Sunworld customers? (smug smile)…good luck to yiz!”
The money was shite by Irish standards so when I was offered a job repping the Thursday and Friday Sunworld boat trips, I was thrilled. The hardest part of that job was waking the guests at 8am and getting them on the coach. Nothing spells trouble more than a small boat of violently hungover people in 40 degree heat and choppy waters. The Thursday boat trip was particularly problematic as it was called a booze cruise and all alcoholic drinks were included in the ticket. I began to hate this job and battled my own seasickness on each trip but hey I was getting €16 for the full day so it was SO worth it.
Around this time I met Orlagh for the first time at a restaurant having dinner with all the reps. She was working for a rival travel company and we bonded over our love of food and compared similar stories of how we met our then boyfriends/ now husbands.
I had to take a holiday in July for my sister’s wedding so I flew home for two weeks of fun and I am at my absolute best in all the photos from a Summer of tanning; the over indulgence on bar street and in restaurants hadn’t yet caught up on me. Anyone who has family overseas will know that airports and goodbyes are horrible and you are in a state of perpetual unhappiness and wish to bring everyone and everything you love to some middle ground and live in unified happiness… I had my fantasy middle ground as possibly Prague… is this geographically sound? I didn’t do geography for my leaving cert and my sense of direction must have been accidentally removed (perhaps with my excess teeth that time?).
I can’t remember which trip home it was… probably at the end of the season of 2004 and I was on my way to baggage reclaim with tears still streaming unchecked down my face when I bumped into Orlagh who was on her way back to Kusadasi and she saw a kindred spirit in my angst. She promised that if ever there was a full time repping job going that she’d pass on my name.
That Winter I was desperate for Ossie to visit and I completed all the million visa forms required in Turkey. I must have spent a month on hold with the visa office and scrolled their website constantly. Eventually I got through to a girl called Regina and she told me his visa was good to go and I promised to name our first child after her, thankfully we had 3 boys, sorry Regina.
I rang Ossie and he said he’d be over for Christmas and he’d go book a ticket… little was I to know that he had a vague idea that Xmas was a time period and not a specific day and so he booked the 26th of December to come over. I had an altercation with my Mam as she was expecting us to sleep in separate rooms as we weren’t married; I went nuclear and my Dad surprisingly backed me up so she stropped off in a sulk and said a few decades of the rosary. I was so excited on Christmas day and told my nanny all about him and she said she was delighted that he was a muslim and not a protestant.
There was some awkwardness as I couldn’t drive in those days (a wasted youth) and my Dad had to bring me to the airport and we sat in the back of the car on the way home to Artane sneaking kisses and giggling while my Dad listened to RTE’s Coastal Reports And Sea Crossings very loudly in the front.
I brought Ossie on the hop on hop off tour around Dublin and learnt loads myself… we visited the Guinness brewery, did the Jameson tour and had a drink in the smallest pub in Ireland…. bit of a theme. I got an email from Orlagh and I was offered a full time job for that Summer.
Ossie went home and I worked a few more months in Boots before packing for the Summer of 2005 in Kusadasi, one where I would go to Ossie’s village to meet his family and learn the dark repping arts…..