Sunday, June 21, 2015

Always happens, and always burns

Well, first off, the good news: Madeleina, my baby, is growing up. She just graduated from high school and is headed to Tarleton State University in the Fall. The bad news: She wants a car. And I just got out from under the mortgage. And she does not want the little Lincoln sportster that used to belong to Italo, even though it's a great car. Oh, boy.
    But then there is this: I leave for Peru in four days to take a group out to the deep green for a Jungle Jaunt. It's going to be great. But these things are always tight. Guests don't understand what goes into them, from taking care of emergencies for my team whether I'm in Peru or not, to repairing buildings, buying new small boats and motors so that we have what we need out there. Heck, I had to buy four new sponge mats at $80 each for this trip because a few were getting a bit ratty-looking. Then I've got to rent rooms, hire the team, rent river boat cabins, send gasoline, motor oil, drinking water and a host of other things up river. I've got to put in and pay for orders of magic mushrooms, sapo, nu-nu. I've got to pay for my own hotel room for a month in advance, buy my airline tickets, pay the bills while I'm gone. All of this, plus the money we use on the ground--for taxis, food, boat food, jungle food, staff, a couple of new pots and pans, maybe a few new hammocks to keep things fresh, shotgun shells, re-upping the med kit, just a million things go into a jungle trip. The only monies not already committed are the money I'll spend on fresh food and dry goods.
    So whatever people pay me, I'm lucky to come out of a successful trip with $2000 in my pocket for all the work to get it organized and then a month down there setting up, doing the trip, decompressing from the trip. That's what I was looking at for this trip, provided everything went as planned.
    Nonetheless, at the last second, someone almost always gets cold feet or has a legit life emergency that needs taking care of. I got that call this morning. One of the guests has an emergency. I hope she was lying because I don't wish an emergency on her. But I have to take her at her word.
    AND she needs the money for the trip back. I can keep the deposit plus $100 she said. She meant to be generous. I get it. But what she doesn't understand is that if she paid $1800--I already gave her $100 off the trip price--and I return all but the deposit, I will stand to make a maximum of $700 on this trip. I immediately sent her $500, but I know we're going to have an issue later. I have already spent well over $1000 of her money, and hired an extra staff member to take care of the women on the trip. That staff member has to get paid, whether I need her or not. I can't just say, "oh, I had a cancellation, I don't need you anymore." And now, of course, I have a hotel room that will be used by one when I paid for a double; a boat cabin used by one, when I paid for a double. A new roof on a hut that cost $340 (leaf roof, plus work to put it up) that I no longer need for this trip. And on and on.
     Madeleina said I should not give her anything with the trip starting in less than two weeks. But then I don't like to be hard-nosed and had already sent the woman $500, knowing Madeleina would say something like that. She's right, of course. Nobody should get anything back when it's less than 30 days from the trip starting. I just don't have it in me to be that cold.
    But damnit, I spent several phone calls talking with this woman. I ordered some special jungle medicine for her that was paid up front by me. Ah, nuts.
    I really hope she has no family emergency. But I sure feel burned.

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