Heart in hand

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(Edited)

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It was a month before my 19th birthday when I applied for my first permanent job as a play-maker at resorts across Jamaica.
My main goal, was to eschew further schooling (I was
never a fan of school), earn my own money and get some independence, to enable me to move out of my parents house (I had the idea that being away from my parents could have a positive effect, and cause me to feel some fondness for them). #TeenagePhase

Pre-mobile era; I'd just walked to the bus stop, when my mum received my much anticipated call, from my first choice of resorts that I'd applied to.

Running to meet me in the street, my mum shouted.

Camille, Half Moon is on the line!

With a date set for a job interview, I exchanged some coins from my piggy bank at the local bank, and I purchased one yard (just over one metre) of a burnt orange cotton-linen blend of fabric.
Flicking through some fashion stylebooks, I asked my mum to make me a nice tailored dress with a matching waist belt; a look that perfectly complemented disguised the rascal I was.


I'll never forget the face-to-face interview; the HR Manager told me that they were not the kind of resort with play-maker roles (in hindsight a play-maker role was not for me), but from my cover letter and CV, she wanted to meet with me as she thought I would make a suitable Concierge; a word I'd never heard before.

"Where do you see yourself in 5 years time," she asked?

A normal interview question... but at the time, sitting across from her, I gave her an honest answer:

"FIVE YEARS! That's a long time for me. 
I don't know the person I'm going to be in 5 years time; 
I'm constantly changing. 
However, if you'd asked me where I see myself in 6 months time,  then I could honestly tell you, that I'd hope to be enjoying the role and meeting all of your expectations."

The HR Manager replied: Fair enough, but do you see any further?

Stretching to the farthest future my free-spirited 19 year old mind could imagine, I said:

"Maybe 2 years! 
I think after two years, I'll have a better idea if I like the   hotel industry, this company, the job, or whether I'd like to do something different with my life."

My answers made the HR Manager smile (and laugh).

She asked: Is your Mum a teacher?

I responded yes.

She said; I could tell from the way you voice your answers.

(Whether that was good or bad, I didn't ask her...I didn't really want to know ... but we both chuckled).

The HR Manager advised me to consider the role of Concierge, she explained to me what the duties entailed, and said that she thought I could do a good job at it.

I told her I was very interested, but since there was no accommodation with the job, I would need time to relocate to the city (Montego Bay), as I was still living with my parents in another parish.

The HR Manager made an exception and offered me a temporary small room on the staff block; an area reserved for catering staff on odd shifts, till I could earn enough money and find my feet.


I was thrown into an environment that was completely new to me.
Faced with negativity, disgruntled, and demotivated colleagues, who had been working at the resort for years, I had to look to the positive side and be thankful that yes, I was no longer under the roof of my parents.

All staff quickly told me that there was no future at the resort, and that it was like slavery.

This is not a bed of roses, it's Backra work, said everyone.

(Here's an article from the Jamaica Gleaner, which explains the origin and meaning of "Backra Work" from slavery days). 

Backra work never done?


Dismissing the negativity, I ploughed away at my job, and eager to learn, I voluntarily cross-trained in other departments at the end of my shifts. I needed to fit the pieces of the puzzle of how all departments contributed to the end product.

There was continuous on-the-job training and seminars, and I was happy to be working in a great setting.
Fascinated by the different cultures and ways people approached their lives on holidays, I started saving so someday I would also be able to travel and see the world.


There was always a high turn-over of staff, because many in fact discovered that it was not a bed of roses as it appeared.

With nothing but my self-motivation and inner drive to succeed, I continued working, and always went the extra mile.


Then came light, (Pia) in 1997.

inCollage_20211127_182254220.jpg Pia with waiter and myself right, 1997.

Pia, was new to me, but she was actually a returning employee who worked as a translator/interpretor; alongside my team (Concierge / Guests Services).
Swiss-Italian, Pia was multi-lingual, speaking English, Jamaican Patois, Italian, German, French, Spanish and other languages; Pia had great ways of communicating.

Jovial, and mischievous, I took a liking to Pia instantly; However, staff sometimes took offense to Pia's blunt and outspoken personality (something I admired).

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Pia was a world class performer, well travelled, and smart.
One thing that stood out to me was Pia's positivity and solution-mindset.
Pia got shit things done. #teamPia


One pay day, Pia happened to collect payslips and she noticed how low my wages were... disconcerted, she went to HR about it.

Pia voiced concern that for the level of my work, and that all her guests complemented that I was an asset, and she thought that I needed to be better renumerated for my work.

I got a pay rise; something that did not come easy at such resort.

Pia, became my mentor.

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I learned to handle tasks as well as Pia did. Pia brought a sense of adventure, fun, and excitement to the job.
She did everything with pride and always applied effort.


Getting to know Pia, and understanding her approach to everything...

Pia explained that both her parents were deaf and dumb, which left her, and her younger brother no choice but to find ways to communicate with and look after their parents. She told me that at one stage they all lived on a boat, and that they found alternative ways to survive.

My attitude towards my job, and my work ethics, I learned from Pia. Those attributes made me receive many awards as a world-class employee.

Five year plans became a norm, and I developed personally and professionally by setting life and personal goals.

I received many promotions within the company throughout the years, and was renumerated accordingly.

Lifelong learning, rising to all challenges to find solutions, keeping a young and happy mind, and making the most of what you have, no matter how little, was something I learned from Pia.

Pia left the island, but Pia also left a mark on me.

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This pendant is a gift that Pia gave me when she left Jamaica.
My heart broke...
I quickly mended my broken heart by glueing it back together.
My heart is intact.

Whenever I see this broken mended pendant, I think of this Japanese way of thinking.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — a metaphor for embracing your flaws and imperfections. “You won't realize your full potential until you go through the tough times,” Kumai says. With that said, Kintsugi takes work and awareness in order for it to truly be healing. Source: NBC News

This resonates with me 💙

Here's a message I sent to Pia over a week ago; with happy tears I wrote this, as I thought of her. 

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Pia, the most influential person who changed my life, without realising it. I will always think of Pia as a heart in hand.
Pia saw the potential in me and helped me actualise to the best version of myself.
She did what she didn't have to...from her heart.

I had a chat with her just now 💙


Thank you for reading my blog ^_^

This is my response to The Weekend community: #weekend-engagement topic 77.

➡️Option two
Tell us about someone, other than your parents, who has supported and influenced you and made a positive difference to your life. What did they do, how did they do it and how have you benefitted - What lessons do you remember the best.

Please feel free to comment below; I'll reply to you (;.;)/~






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19 comments
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Manually curated by EwkaW from the @qurator Team. Keep up the good work!

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😁 Oh, thank you so much @ewkaw and the @qurator team. Much appreciated 😊😍

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You're very welcome! Have a great Sunday :)

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Thank you very much! A lovely Sunday to you too 💐

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What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing this experience with us Camille. People like Pia are a blessing to have around. Thanks to all the Pias out there in the world.

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Thank you so much:)
I do believe that to be true!
Pia had such an impact on my life, and will never forget all I learned from her.
She represents strength, love, and gratitude to me.
A heart of gold!
I hope we meet again someday.

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That’s a wonderful thing to read, I love it. Pia sounds like she was a wonderful woman indeed! I like your drive and determination, something my wife also has so much of! You make the best of a tough situation and try to always be positive. I’m glad you didn’t sink to the lows that the other staff members did. It’s helpful to just be positive and look at things with the constant learning and expansion eye and it will be a much better time!

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Thank you for your kind comment 😊.
For the person I was at the start of the job, I'm pleased I had the foresight to look at the bigger picture. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for me to have worked in such an organisation.
My tenure there felt like "from crayons to perfume".
I was so tiny when I first started that guests would question if I was of a legal working age. They all saw me blossom, even my parents 😆; I entered the premises with pride every single day.
It's a period of my life that I always look back on fondly:)

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What a beautiful and inspiring story. I love the mended of the broken heart and the metaphor of putting our own pieces together when we feel broken.

Thanks for sharing your story, happy Sunday!

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Thank you very much😊
It's not easy, but I think it's a responsibilty we must take; as that's the only precipice for change.
I'm glad you found this story inspiring, and I'm happy I got the chance to let Pia know just how important she is to me 😇
Happy Sunday to you too:)

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Thanks! Surely it was a great satisfaction for her to know how much she influenced you and how important is for you even today. :)

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😊 Indeed 😍
Pia messaged me just now after returning from a lunch date with friends in Italy. It's always inspirational whenever I reach out to her and hear that she still celebrates life.
I sent her a copy of my post which she said made her cry happy tears.
We do hope we'll meet again someday :)

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Awn,very interesting 😊
I have enough time to read.
Thank you for sharing

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