Open Door Policy

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Welcome to Marinero, here let me just give you this wrist band because here at Marinero we have an open door policy, so this will help us recognize that you are staying with us…


Part of a spiel refined by one of the amazing, beautiful workers at Marinero Hostel in Hvar. I have listened to it a few times now, while hanging out on the steps of the hostel because that is just what we do. It never really sunk in, or meant much to me at all; but after spending more time here and doing my first day shift, this sentence and particularly the open door policy sentiment took on a whole new meaning.

Job: man the desk. Level of difficulty: Easy…

The thought of spending 9hours in this space was daunting. What the hell would I do with all this time? Actually, brilliant – I will get a whole lot of writing done, surely 9 hours, only 1 person to check in, I  can make this time uber productive… right? WRONG.

Ok, first person to check in. Great. Do the spiel tell him about Hvar, what he can do, where he should go, any questions? No. Good. We must be done here right? Wait a second he is still standing there looking at me awkwardly… what else could he possibly want? Oh good he is the socially awkward kind… I’ll leap straight into the spiel that everyone that has been travelling for a while knows by heart.

SO…where are you from, when do you get here, how long are you here for, where else in ______ (insert current country here) have you been, where are you going next?...

Oh good, now my turn… I am from, have been doing ____ for the last ____, I have been here for ____ and going ____ next. And no I have no idea what I am doing with my life next…

Side note: I thought it was tough being a tour leader sometimes, every week the first 2 days having the same conversations with everyone… the only difference being that after this 1 – 2day ‘ground-hog day’, you broke over the barrier and could start having some real conversations with people and build some really strong connections; as opposed to meeting people everyday, for 1 – 2days, maybe more if you are lucky – so you are constantly stuck in this same conversation day in and day out…

After the niceties I gently encourage him that as he is only here for one afternoon that he should really get out there and explore rather than hanging on the steps of the Hostel with me… And off he goes up to his room. 5mins later… here he comes down the stairs “ciao enjoy your day…” Wait one second, what is he doing?... Yip… he is… sitting back down… Oh, ok you want me to repeat everything I said before about where you should go and what you should do, and even once the conversation is clearly finished (obviously typical social clues that give a sign that a conversation has finished goes well over this guy's head) you still wanna stand and stare at me for a little... awesome. Composure Tash... and... he is out the door (release big breath here). Nah that wasn’t so bad, he was harmless after all... First and last check in done; right time to do some writing. Wrong again.

Part of this job is clearly dealing with the guests, but there is another part which I didn’t even consider. There are the ‘other guests’ that can also take advantage of this open door policy, and I myself have unknowingly been one of these…

 Just think about it for a second, let’s say you work in a hostel on the same island, or maybe you visit the island once a week… you get to know someone that works in this particular hostel, so you stop by whenever you are in, nearby, or just plain bored. It’s nice right?... Paying someone a visit, because surely they get bored and lonely, you are doing them a service by coming to chat to them for a bit and entertain them, heck maybe if you are having a bad day it is a friendly ear to listen to all of your problems. This person is always so supportive and friendly, they will no doubt have the answers, but even if they don’t have the answers at least they are guaranteed to listen for a little because – hey, they aint’ going nowhere, NO-WHERE…!!

Well now imagine this. YOU are not the only one that does this.

Say What???

That’s right, there are tens if not hundreds of you waiting to take advantage of this open door policy (exaggeration always helps hit home the point). So while you may only be one person…



I’m confused what harm is it if I come by for half an hour or so…”

Guaranteed that as soon as you walk out, another little lemming comes walking straight in behind you, with you guessed it – exactly the same idea in mind – sit, mooch, offload, expect sympathy for 1st world problems… starting to see the picture here.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love people, always have. I have also always generally been in a role or put myself in situations where I am there for and to help people. I love it. But (and this is a big but)… there is something I have had to learn (the hard way), and that is this…

You cannot, physically and mentally give to everyone. Why? Well as my dear friend Kayla put it – sometimes she feels like a depleted cow (nothing to do with looking or acting mildly like a cow), but she said “there is just no fucken milk left…” A beautiful analogy really. You cannot simply keep milking a cow all day everyday and expect it to keep producing milk. Cows have specific times that they give milk, they are given time to replenish. When you are in a role such as working in a hostel, as a tour leader, or an au pair… when do you have time to replenish?

Also another lesson I have learnt over the years, is not giving milk to everyone that comes by trying to pull on your udder… (okay taking the cow analogy too far, but I am mildly tired and the image of me with an udder made me giggle a little). Again, why not? Let me tell you why… because sometimes people get a taste for the milk, and see that you keep giving whenever they come by, so they become to rely on this resource. They don’t necessarily need it, they are not going to die of dehydration, but they take it anyway. Sometimes it is in the form of just company, but generally it turns into more – there are always problems, their life is always hard, they are a victim, their problems are always bigger than anyone else’s; and do you think these people every really ask you how you are doing?... Well they might, but either they:
1. Don't actually listen to the answer (you can tell this by the vacant look in their eyes as they are more just working out what it is they will say next)

2. They listen, but manage to turn what you have said back into a conversation about themselves

Or they just plain talk over you before you have even really begun...

The thing is, by constantly providing these people with milk, I realized that it is not doing them any favours; it does not help them to become self-sufficient in any way, shape or form. Not only this but it drains your own resource, so you have nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing left for yourself. I have had to learn to accept that there are some people I just cannot help, because no matter what advice or help you offer, they will never actually hear the depth behind it, or act on the words you have given - they unfortunately will most likely always be a victim to life - only they can finally ever decide to shake themselves out of the confines that have been constructed by their own minds, and become the author of their own story. Until then, life will just keep 'happening' to them, and they will go from cow to cow, getting milk wherever they can.

I have always found it hard to balance this, but I am getting better. At the start I used to run away from needy milk guzzling folk, I would put a barrier up and move right out of reach. This is not a good way to be as it makes us selfish, withdrawn and cynical individuals...

"only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile..." Albert Einstein

But nor is giving milk to every Tom, Dick and Harry that skips past your merry way with an empty bucket. 



I still try to give, but tend to be a lot choosier about who I give fully too. And those that play the victim in life I either give a little at a time so as not to trigger the addiction to this milk, or I give but also try to give a glass of water to the face as well – in the form of some harsh truths to try and wake these people up a little... 

So what on earth does all this have to do with an open door policy? Well I think it is good to be open as a human being, and give to others where you can – because the part that I have intentionally failed to mention thus far, is that majority of the time when you truly give unconditionally, you receive 10-fold back, and this is what replenishes your own stores. But…if people know that there is an open door policy, and that there is always milk available for the taking, you will get every milk crazed lunatic within a 100mile radius trying to take. And this, my dear friend, benefits no one.

So what is the solution?... Try to close those doors from time to time and put a sign up saying:

Out for the next ____ to replenish my soul. You should do the same.”

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