19.12.2012 - 21.01.2013
Not two months ago was I hauling a guest’s luggage up to their room on the second floor, making polite conversation…
“Where are you from?”, “How long are you in Tasmania?”, “Well, if there is anything else I can do for you during your stay, please let me know and I would be happy to drop everything else I am doing and help.” The best part was I meant every part of it. My job was my pride and joy. I worked as a concierge in a five star art hotel, where we offered only the best service and ran a damn fine ship not only because of the quality of the establishment but also living up to the reputation of the second to none customer service offered there.
No request was too great, no wait, no request above the belt was too great. We prided ourselves on how well we would meet all the guest’s requirements, but the concierge and front desk team also prided ourselves on our appearance. Sharp suits, slick haircuts, shiny shoes and even shinier smiles were not so much an expectation from the powers that be, but something we would all take pride in.
My daily routine would be to get up in the morning at 5:30am, over one hour before my shift began. I only lived 10 minutes from work. This gave me enough time to have my morning shave, apply my moisturiser, make sure my hair was just right, iron my shirt, pull my pressed suit on and knot my tie into the most perfect double windsor no matter how many attempts. Every day. Yes, I was bordering on metrosexual, but that is how much my job and that hotel meant to me.
Not two months ago I resigned from my beloved job to wed my beloved fiancé. Our grand plan was to tie the knot, and flee the country on a one way ticket to the world. Our trip began in Bali, which is a beautiful and popular destination for newlyweds. We don’t really go much on the over-crowded party scene of places like Kuta Beach, so we spent our first few nights in the quiet, culture rich town of Ubud. Imagine my disgust, when the first guest house we went to (setting us back approximately $15 per night, in comparison with the $455 rooms I was used to looking at daily) had a bit of mould up the walls, a bathroom light that flickered like something from “Hostel” and the hot water was as cold as Bill Clinton’s poker face.
Now, I would like to take this opportunity to say that I have travelled within a budget before to Bali, Thailand, USA, Mexico and the Bahamas. I was not completely green to travelling shoestring style but when it was discussed that we were travelling cheap like the budgie, this was not what I had had in mind.
After this night, when I awoke to discover that both my wife and I had not had our eyeballs drilled out by some psycho-killer, and that I had actually had a decent nights rest, something inside me changed. Since then, the price for accommodation has decreased. $13 on the Gili Islands, $10 in Thakek in Laos, and I am currently writing this article at midnight overlooking the Mekong river and paying $7 for the privilege. I am now happy paying pittance for a pillow to spend more on what the great world has to throw at me outside the walls of our accommodation.
Something else has befallen me too. Something I thought could never happen from those mornings looking at myself in the mirror at 5:30am.
I will confess I did pack my $40 hair product and my moisturiser. I can honestly say I haven’t touched either of them. I traded my product in for a straw hat and my moisturiser in for a pair of loose fitting pants. A razor has not touched my face since the day of my wedding, and although I do shower nearly every day, my hair has digressed rapidly from my slick “yes-sir” quaff to what I now like to call my “get-fucked-please-sir” mop. I no longer desire the feeling of donning a bag of fruit and shiny how do you do’s, and have in place my comfy jacket purchased for my motor bike expeditions and trusty dust covered thongs that take me wherever I need to go.
My wife asked me what would happen when we do eventually arrive in Hobart. Would I shave my beard and re-unite with my $60 monthly haircut regime? I thought long and hard about my answer. I love the feeling I have now. I am a traveller. So many worries have been lifted from my shoulders, one of the least of them being my image. In saying that, I loved my job. I loved the place I worked and I loved feeling pride in knowing that we were the best at what we did. So maybe, just maybe I could pull the suit jacket over my shoulders again. But I am more than happy to report that my days of $60 haircuts, $40 hair product and moisturising my ugly mug and well are truly a thing of distant memories.
It just goes to show, if you feel tired of the monotony of your life or your work, pick up and take off. Throw away your hair product, fancy shoes and over-complicated lifestyle. I haven’t much money, so if all that stands between you and escaping the rut of a rat-race is the courage to spend money on seeing the world and not investing in 10,000 Google shares, put down the pen and pick up a passport. Like me, you may even surprise yourself.