The names of the individuals in this story have been replaced by the names of the cast of “Happy Days” to protect the innocent and confuse millennials.
Fonzie sits dejected, alone in a semi-circle of plastic chairs in a dimly lit function space in the back of the Rooty Hill RSL.
His dining options – lukewarm coffee in styrofoam cups and stale biscuits, are a sharp contrast to his travel agent wife’s dining options that night in the Private Suite at Etihad Stadium with free flowing Moet and Lobster Bisque.
More bodies emerge out of the shadows.
Richie, whose partner is at the Helloworld Frontliners Conference in Brisbane; Lori Beth, whose husband is at a Buzz Night in Fremantle; Howard whose boyfriend is on an Intrepid famil in Kenya; Joanie whose life partner, Marion, is at the Visit USA function at the Rocks; and Chachi, whose fiancé is once again, still at the office on a transfer night well past 10 pm.
Collectively, you’ve never seen such a sad and disenchanted group of people.
Welcome to POTATO – Partners Of Travel Agents and Tourism Operators.
Started by Ralph, whose ex-wife used to work for STA in Tasmania, the support group and network has swelled to over 5000 members, with groups in all capital cities and most regional areas.
Such is the growth of this distinct population that Facebook has just introduced “In A Relationship With A Travel Agent” as a relationship status option, which it positions somewhere between “Widow,” “In an Open Relationship,” and “It’s Complicated.”
Though they all come from various backgrounds, their lives and their stories, as shared below, share a common theme of confusion, despair, loneliness, abandonment, and anxiety, all due to their partner’s relationship with their job in the travel industry.
“It was like she joined a #$#$ing cult.”
“She refers to me as her 2IC.”
“Take me to the airport, pick me up from the airport. I’m your wife, Al, not #$#$ing Uber. You know, you want me to take you to the airport, I just want you to take out the rubbish every once and while!”
“My Mrs. craps on about $#%$ing travel all day , it does my #$#$ing head in. And then you get her and her work mates together and wholly #$#$ing #$#$, the lot of them together, for $##$’s sake, I’d just like to go out with me mates and their partners and not have her go on and on about going to $$#$ing Borneo.”
“I booked some accommodation on Webjet, and Arnold just lost it, he just lost it.”
“One day he just left me, because he had an opportunity to turn around a new woman who had been underperforming.”
“He told me the relationship was XI’d. He told me that we were no longer TCP, that as far as he was concerned, I was Q class and he wanted J class, that we had passed our TTL long ago, and he thought it best if I changed my PNR as quickly as possible. I was so confused; I didn’t know that I had just been dumped.”
“I told my BDM husband we needed some one-on-one time, and he turned up with a coffee and a muffin and did a full half hour presentation off this laptop.”
“Sometimes the kids and I call up her store and pretend to be mystery shoppers just so we can hear her voice.”
“STPC, APT, SQ, BNE, YVR, PNR… I told her, this is Australia, speak #$#$ing English.”
“I can deal with the mother-in-law, it’s the village-in-law, family-in-law, and tribe-in-law that drive me #$#$%ing nuts!”
“My wife, Pinky, keeps talking about this man in her office space that she finds revolting, that smells horrible and is socially awkward. I tell her, ‘Pinky, you’re a Personal Travel Manager, we live alone, I know you’re talking about me.’”
“We didn’t have a wedding night, we had a $#$#ing buzz night. $#$# me, after me best man’s speech, this $#$#wit from an Insurance company rocked up and started giving out $#%$ing movie vouchers and then showed this $%$%ing video on Nepal!”
Suspicions about infidelity run rampant throughout the evening. Newlywed Jenny Piccalo says,
“I think Potsie is having it on with this girl named Emma. In the last month alone, he’s gone to the tennis with her, the Melbourne Cup, and last night he said he’s going to Dubai with her. I don’t know who this Emma Ritz thinks she’s is, but she better watch herself… And stay the #$#@ away from my man.”
Leather also has doubts about her husband, Chuck’s trips away,
“Every year he goes away for a few days and lies about where he is going. This year he said he was going to Singapore, but left on a Friday morning and came back on Sunday night looking like he aged 10 years and smelling of rum. As if you’re going to travel all the way to Singapore for a weekend, he must think I’m #$#$ing stupid.” Leather says Chuck’s annual weekend trips just don’t add up, “He has weekends in Las Vegas, Cancun, and Macau… It just doesn’t make any $#$%ing sense.”
Her suspicions peaked when she found a onesie that she had never seen before in Chuck’s luggage after a “weekend” in Macau.
“He said it was his, but I didn’t believe him, I don’t want to know what perverted things he’s getting up to.”
In addition, POTATO runs a support group for children whose parents work in the travel industry called, “Tater Tots,” or “Spuds.”
Children as young as five come together to discuss being a child of travel, and their stories sound eerily similar,
“My name is Billy, that’s spelled Bravo-Igloo-Lima-Lima-Yankee.”
“Mummy says I’m her favourite novice.”
“Mummy goes to work in the morning, and comes home late at night smelling of grapes.”
The POTATO meetings generally end with the group standing and vocalising the positives of having a travel industry person as a partner – reduced rates on travel, occasional freebies, and an endless supply of branded stress balls and umbrellas.
The meetings always end with a loving group hug and then everybody goes back to an empty home, and waits.
If you or somebody you know is involved with somebody in the travel industry, and needs help or support, visit www.menwholooklikekennyrogers.com.
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