A: When working? Not enough. When not working? Not at all well.
People sometimes ask me, “How do you sleep in different hotels all the time? I can never sleep well in hotels.” Honestly, the hotels are the easy part. That has become normalized. Invariably, the first day after a tour finishes, I wake up without an alarm to a state of confused panic, thinking my alarm didn’t go off, and that I am AWOL with my busload of guests wandering around aimlessly, looking for me.
And if I am in my own bed, as I was this week for a rare night? Even worse – because I don’t recognize the place! I was exhausted coming off my last twenty-day stint, and couldn’t wait to NOT have to get up at 5:30am to do bags, etc… It was the worst sleep ever. I woke up every hour or so, not recognizing where I was. What hotel is this? Is this Cheticamp? What day is this? We must be in Cheticamp… no, the Cheticamp hotel doesn’t have light coming from that corner… then is this Baddeck?? Where are my passengers?? Omg, did I give them their room numbers? I don’t remember doing that, omg… etc., etc. I kept having to literally talk myself through my current reality: “You are off work, your tour is over. You are in Windsor. This is your house. It’s OK. You saw them off to the airport yesterday, remember? It’s OK, go back to sleep…” Then, once actually asleep again, I dreamed about the same stuff: not being in right hotel, not giving guests their room keys, etc. etc.
Last night, I dreamed that the bus driver and I stepped off the bus to have a conversation about something, and we turned around and the bus was gone! He hadn’t put the brake on and it coasted down the road – and into the frozen harbour. I ran to the water’s edge and saw tracks going off the snow drift and into the water. Looking into the water, I could see the coach trapped, wedged nose-down between a boat and a rock, filling with water and guests struggling to get out. It was horrifying.
It’s not just tour directors, though. Tourism is draining. Yesterday, as I was boarding the flight to Halifax, the flight attendant said as I *entered* the aircraft: “bye bye!”. …?? “Wow, that was the shortest flight ever!?” I laughingly replied. Embarrassed, she corrected herself: “I mean: welcome aboard!”, and explained that she was really tired and making no sense. I understood what she meant. By the end of this last back-to-back tour, I wasn’t making sense either, addressing females as “sir”, etc.
Don’t get me wrong: tour directing is a fun job, and I love it. But man, is it tiring.