Every cloud


At work we have been enjoying what they call ‘down time’. Much like Supernanny’s naughty step, ‘down time’ is when IT take a look at the whole publishing system and what we complain about and screw up and then punish us by putting it offline to tamper with and ‘improve’. Yes, this is very dull. No, I do not expect that to interest you in any way whatsoever however it is important to explain in order to set the scene.

The system is down so what is an editor to do with her day? What ever doesn’t involve IT, basically. So lots of integrity checking previous publications and catching up with some housekeeping, filing, generally the sorts of tasks that could wait five years and still nobody would give a flying funicular whether it was done or now.

Needless to say, after a week of wasting my time and hardly feeling like I was in the beating heart centre of travel writing, I was wondering what it was all about? I couldn’t remember a time when a red, flashing deadline was charging towards me and when chasing a contact seemed like a daily life-or-death challenge. Nope. Boredom really does make you question everything, partly because, I suspect, you have too much time on your hands and so spend your days thinking too much and sliding helplessly into some sort of wretched office-based ennui.

Literally seconds before I was going to make my way over to the store cupboard to find some packing cord to hang myself with, my boss asks to have a word with me and I don’t need my notebook or anything.


She’s spotted that I’ve been pissing and moaning about being bored to anybody who will listen, she’s cottoned on that I’m constantly querying and/or taking the piss out of the systems the corporation takes pride in, she’s got fed up with me and has found some dirt on me to fire me for. After all, I am still in my first six months ‘probation’ and in theory could be booted out without so much as a shoebox with which to gather up the crap I use to de-corporate my desk within the otherwise utterly homogenous supermarket floor-style black-trouser-wearing organisation I call my place of work.

We sit down in full view of everybody on one of the ‘creative’ desks. How humiliating. Given a short, sharp disciplinary for everybody to see and recount with cruel embelishments to all who were absent at the time. I’ll bet this is about the Guardian jobs page. I’m looking for a job for a friend, everybody knows that! I’m not vaguely interested in Arts and Heritage. Or maybe it is about ASOS.com. Shit. They know I’ve used company hours to put in a short little transaction to buy a really nice skirt, some earrings and some camis that were going for nothing on the clearance pages. Damn ASOS.

Just a quick word, Rose. I’ve spoken to **** and to ****** and something has come up.

Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiit. Oh, really? Should I be worried? Oh, crap, way to sound guilty. What the FUCK have I done now?

It’s nothing to worry about, we’ve had something come up.

Lowering the boom. Steel yourself, Rose. Clench buttocks. That usually helps.

Would you be interested in going to Dubai for us?

Nnnnngh! Buttock clenching without making a face uses a lot of concentration. Hang on, what? Huh?

Dubai. Are you interested in going over to Dubai on a familiarity trip?

YES! Uh oh, Sales ladies all turned their heads. Was that a bit Meg Ryan?

Great! It’s going to be from the end of… blah blah blah

Dubai! DUBAI! Shit, what currency do they even use? I’m going to need a new pair of sunglasses. Crap! I’m going to burn so badly. Did I throw away that kaftan I never wore. Will my GHDs work in Dubai? Crap, my hair will look so bad. Oh, wait, won’t I have to wear a head scarf? GHD problem solved! Oh, wait, Dubai is a bit different. I wonder if I’ll be flying business class. I hope I’m not sharing a room with anybody, at least not anybody weird.

… blah blah blah… so that’s about all I know right now. If you’re interested then I can get your details over to them today.

What, crap, I should have listened to all of that. Yes, absolutely.

So it turns out that trips like these do not come round as often as you’d think. The company has reps in all countries so there is really no need to go out there except when there are a lot of new attractions and hotels. Photography and those higher up go a lot more frequently that we lowly publishing types who merely write the copy that wins us customers thus bringing in the dough to pay everybody…

Not long after the meeting, my team mates were already writing lists for me. What they want from the hotels (toilet paper from the Burj seems to be a popular request), what they need me to ask hoteliers, various jobs I am an expert at (apparently this is a familiarity trip for Sales professionals and so have to get accustomed to introducing myself as somebody vaguely good at sales and marketing although I am assured nobody will ask me anything about my job), and of course lists of imaginary things I should do.

Here is the low-down of what I am supposed to be doing. I leave at the end of the month for five days in Dubai along with 15 other travel industry professionals from the UK’s various travel organisations. We will be staying in two hotels each for two nights, one of which has an en suit bathroom which does not have opaque walls… could be an issue if I am sharing a bedroom. There I will have all my meals paid for because they will usually be concurrent with meetings with Dubai’s tourism elite. One meal will be a black-tie event at the Burj, and one meal will be in a specially erected gazebo in the desert after off-roading across the dunes. All expenses paid, 5 days in Dubai all in exchange for some cushy dinners, some CDs of photos of 5 star resorts and a wicked tan.

How, why, huh? Only because a gun dropped out, Sales are hell for leather (it is the busy season), and when the offer went to my boss she thought it’d be bad form to take the first offer that came to the new team and when she offered it to the next best person it turns out they don’t have a passport (???).

So on the pyramid of ‘who gets to go on trips’ I am pretty much making my arse-print alongside the dandelions and yet in a very lucky turn of events I am going to be flown out to one of the shiniest cities in the world and certainly the coolest place to be in the Middle East.

So while the system is down, at least I can be writing out my inventory for what to pack.

Do you know how

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