The beginning of an adventure…
I didn’t know what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I remember the moment I fell in love with the idea of being a PA, a Personal Assistant. It all started somewhere in beautiful Tuscany. One day I walked into a hairdressing salon, I smiled at everyone and sank onto the sofa and waited my turn. I overheard a conversation about a private yacht based somewhere in South of France That owner of which was looking for a personal assistant/chief stewardess. The guy sounded quite desperate about the whole thing. An impossible job, he said. interviewed 20 girls in the past 6 weeks but zilch. For some reason, I thought it funny and I laughed! That caught the speaker’s attention. My friend, who shop I was in, smiled and said he needed a woman like me who’s isn’t afraid of a little challenge. The guy looked at me and asked my age and what I was doing in Italy. I remember being quite relaxed. It didn’t even cross my mind that he would offer me a job.
I thought he was joking but went along with it. Then I realized he was seriously offering me an opportunity to do something exciting. I had never done anything like this before and I didn’t even know what a Personal Assistant was. The man ignored my excuses and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Twenty-four hours later I signed the contract and was ushered aboard a ship heading for Sardinia. I had been given a one-way ticket, phone number and the address where a helicopter would be waiting for me. The rest was still in the dark and there were problems. The Pilot who picked me up at the end of the gang-plank explained that my employer was having problems getting his jet airborne so I had to wait. It turned out that I had a few days to prepare for the job.
The owner of the boat arrived next day and he was exactly how I imagined he would be. He wanted to leave the port the same day and start his cruise around the Mediterranean. A six months cruise! The first couple of weeks were hell. The boss ignored me and I kept a low profile. My work was very full on. As a PA you are a multitasker and you have to be able to adapt to every situation and a boat is a very difficult environment for a newcomer. If things go wrong you can’t just leave and go for a long walk.
You need to learn to be patient and persevere. My employer’s wife suffered from Alzheimer’s and it happened that she didn’t have a sufficient amount of a very special lengthy list of medication. At that point, we were somewhere in Treviso waiting for 6 guests to join the trip. With a little bit of organization, I managed to sort out a special delivery by one of my bosses friends as a courtesy gesture. I remember the amusement on my employer’s face. I felt like I had won a lottery.
Then we got stopped by the army for sailing to close to a secret military territory. Unfortunately, the captain wasn’t aware that all foreigners had 24 hours to register their presence. We were facing 24hours lock-up and an outrageous fine. However, I showed proof that I had registered and managed to negotiate a truce. Everyone on board was so happy that they decided to throw a party. It was a very long day on board and the beginning of a long collaboration between my employer and me. But I knew that I found my “thing” and he knew he had found someone he could rely on.