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We miss you!

It said. It even had an exclamation mark to show how sincere it was.

But do they? Do they really?

The email was meant to be an arm around the shoulder, a wee hug in hard times. They wanted to know everything was okay, especially as they hadn’t heard from me for a while. They understood why. 2020 had been a challenging year. What with a global pandemic and all that. Maybe I just needed a break? Maybe I had other obligations? Maybe there were some other problems keeping me away?


We love you, we really do – but if you don’t get your arse into gear and start contributing again, mate, that’s it. You’re off the program; your title will be stripped from you like the epaulettes from a disgraced officer’s shoulders. There are plenty of others out there just dying to take your place. You have thirty days.

Tick tock.

It didn’t say that, not exactly.

But it wasn’t the first time I’d had thinly veiled ‘you’re not doing enough – shape up or ship out’ type emails since COVID put a kibosh on travel big time. Last time I’d replied, pointing out giving helpful advice about travel when hardly anyone was travelling was, well, pointless. And that I’d turn up for my shift again when travel was back on the cards. It fell on unsympathetic ears; that wasn’t a good enough reason.

But hey, I guess that’s what they’re paying you for.

Except they’re not. Not a penny, dime, centimo. Nada.

Ah, but then there are all the other benefits.

Of course … remind me, what those are?

Well, there’s the calendar, and the little present each year.

You mean like the cheap little nylon bag with the logo plastered across it? I wouldn’t display that outside. What do you think I am? Some sort of nerd?

There’s the prestige.

Yeah right. I never even mention it, that would just be embarrassing; as if I was trying to use it to wangle something for nothing. And anyway, there is no prestige.

So I didn’t reply. Like location advice at the moment, it would have been a pointless exercise. It is always simply a case of ‘our way, or the highway.’

It’s been a while!

Another exclamation point, maybe a bit more of an accusing tone with this one.

“We hope all is well with you.”

Because otherwise why would you be ignoring us you ungrateful piece of dog turd, written as “It has now been over a month, and you still have not contributed.”

Hello – global pandemic. Lockdown. Under house arrest. Don’t you guys read the news?

“We understand there are times everyone needs a break and have obligations outside of the Forums and that the past several months have been particularly challenging.
However, it is important to our Community that our Destination Experts are regular active members of our forums, so we have removed your DE badge.”

I’m gutted. They’ve taken back my badge.

What badge? You mean those words they stick underneath your avatar? That’s harsh, man. What else are you going to lose?

Err, nothing. Actually I’ll gain some time. Time I can put toward work that benefits me. I get absolutely zilch out of this relationship.

What will they lose?

That rare beast sometimes spotted on travel forums – accurate advice. Basically, they cease to benefit from years of accumulated experience and research carried out in specific travel destinations without paying a bean for it.

So let me get this straight. They expect you to give up time dishing out helpful travel advice that keeps users on their website, making money for them, and not only do you get nothing, they get heavy …

I wouldn’t really say heavy.

Snotty then. Let’s say snotty.

Okay, snotty is fair.

They get snotty when you don’t give up what they think is enough of your time to post free travel advice on their website? That’s crazy, man, why on earth would anyone want to be a Tripadvisor Destination Expert?

It beats me.

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Jack Montgomery

Jack is an author, travel writer, photographer, and a Slow Travel consultant who has been writing professionally for twenty years. Follow Jack on Facebook for information about his writing, travel tips, photographs, and tales of life in a tiny rural village in Somerset.

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Welcome to my Canvas

Some of the items on this site won’t be to everyone’s liking, I get that. Basically this is my place, my wee studio to mess around in – experimenting with words and thoughts. I’ll be chuffed if you enjoy it, but if you don’t, c’est la vie. As a friend used to tell me “it would be a boring life if we all thought the same.”

Jack Montgomery
A wine press,
On a farm at the end of the dirt track,
The Setúbal Peninsula,