Tag Archives: itinerary

Faceless People

14 Jun

For the last 7 months give or take, my travel agent has been a faceless woman sitting in a faceless office in Johannesburg, South Africa.

I do not think of her at all, other than when I need flights or hotels booked. And even then, ours is a business transaction conducted online; I send her a furtive email with my itinerary; she arranges my flight, hotel and airport taxis and sends me my info neat little PDFs.

The only time I ever call her is when she screws up my bookings or forgets to send my itinerary in time. She is particularly good in this last one; much to my chagrin.

Let’s call her AV.

Boy, have I had my share of drama with this woman. Lord knows how many times I have threatened to let go of her services for someone better; and truth be told she does mess up a lot.

This morning I received a whatsapp from her asking if anyone from her firm had been in touch regarding my bookings for next week; which last minute Carole only requested last evening.

AV: “Hi. I’m in hospital and have just gotten access to my phone now. Did anyone reply to you re your booking?”

Carole: “Yes, M replied, thanks. And get well soon”

AV: “Ok. Cool. Thanks but breast cancer is a process”

Today AV stopped being faceless.

AV is now a real woman in South Africa battling breast cancer. I have googled her. She is no longer faceless. I see her now.

Guilt immediately hit me like a tonne of bricks. Was she so erratic all these months because she was juggling work and chemo appointments? Was she in pain even as I hustled her about my delayed itinerary?

Moral of the day: Always be kind, you never know what people are really going through………

As I sit here, still frozen not knowing how to respond to that. It’s such a personal detail, that I feel like it was TMI to drop it just like that into the conversation (I am not being insensitive). On the other hand, I feel like she’s such a brave person working full time while juggling this and it floors me, the strength of this woman. Am also feeling like I wish she hadn’t told me, because now that I know it sort of changes things between us. I also feel like I want to reach out and re-assure her – I keep composing and re-composing the text, but nothing I say feels quite right. Have we become chums just because she has shared this delicate and sad personal detail? At what stage is she in? Am I even allowed to ask? Yes, I am feeling and wondering about a lot of things.

Most of all, I am just happy for the lesson learnt; happy about my health and happy to be back here writing; when I should actually be at the bank, which closes in 14 minutes.

Love and peace,


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