NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

My dream job

The last year of the last century I was committed to changing my life significantly. I wanted to stop working in a factory full of ink, inhaling thinner, and other toxic products which were affecting my stomach. I was tired of carrying the smell of “fresh paint” everywhere, even after I showered. It seemed I could be tracked just by my toxic aroma.

Oh! But please don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for my six years working in the silk-screen and merchandising business. It was my entry to the workforce at 16 years old. I had so much fun making new friends, and I started to buy my own things and help my parents. A few years later I started to study at night and save money. I knew in my heart I was going to find my way to the corporate world. I wanted to change my chunky worker boots for fine stilettos, get rid of my stinky and super toxic apron for fancy blouses and skirts, and most of all, my wish was to learn other cultures, speak several languages and travel around the world.

After I passed basic English in the academy, I quit my job and I went for Sabre and Amadeus intensive classes. Both were the most common booking systems for flights, hotels, and cruises. The internet was the new thing and only the biggest companies could afford it. Travel agencies were in transition to making reservations in-house without having to call the airlines to book a flight, which allowed them to own the entire transaction. And there I was, ready to jump into the tourism field.

After several rejections, I got hired. It was my dream job! It didn’t matter that I had one and a half hour commute. I used to read on the bus anyway. The office was in the main avenue of the most “SoHo” and hipster district of Lima, surrounded by art museums and high-end restaurants. Then of course, I was finally wearing proper attire including a parfum. During my first week in my new position, I had a client who wanted an international flight, so I offered the lowest flight ticket I found. She was happy. She was one of the top customers of the company as she used to travel very often. She was a renowned photographer but seemed very down to earth. I was so delighted listening to all her stories about her last trip to India and Morocco that I forgot to close her reservation. By the way, completing a flight transaction would be like learning coding today.
“ET.” I just missed two letters! ET means end of transaction. But when I realized it, it was too late. There was no seat in economy class which she had already paid for. Instead of informing my supervisor, I began checking the flight constantly, praying for someone to cancel the desired seat so I could have it back. After eight hours of intensive searching, it didn’t happen.

I had no choice but to talk to my manager and explain what happened.

It was dusk, the sky rapidly turned dark like my thoughts. Was I good enough for this job? I just got hired but I was so close to being unemployed in less than a week. Maybe tourism was too hard for my abilities? I was so disappointed in myself.

The manager called the client. Apologetic and embarrassed, he offered her a ticket to travel one day earlier, and we (he meant me) would pay for the extra night in the hotel. The client explained she needed to connect with her crew in the stopover, so she refused. He offered another airline. She refused as she didn’t want to miss a mile of her frequent flier account. Finally, he said:

“There is availability in business class. Would you mind the upgrade?” Of course, she accepted.

There was a pregnant pause while he finished the call and the booking until he broke the silence (after pressing ET of course).

He said to me, “The price difference is twice your monthly salary, you better pay in installments. Next time you make a mistake, don’t keep quiet, say something.”

And definitely, I learned the lesson! Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Editor’s Note: Daniela Valdivia-Terres recently submitted this essay to the Observer. She wrote this for an English Composition 101 class. Valdivia-Terres was born and raised in El Callao, Perú. She moved to the U.S. in 2015 and lives in North Chelmsford. “At 44 years old, I am a mom of a toddler, I decided to start my pathway to college as after owning two travel agencies, one in my country and another one here in MA, and starting a digital marketing agency during Pandemic time, I got to a point where I need further education beyond short courses and self-taught education,” she wrote.
Valdivia-Terres says her goal is to eventually transfer to a four-year university to pursue the career of neuromarketing or business. “I still haven’t decided where and when. But when I get it, I will be the first grad in my family. I just hope to graduate before my daughter. Looking forward to achieving it!” she wrote.