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Vacations, Wasp Stings and the Entrepreneurial Pursuit


Some might say my husband and I don’t have the best of luck with travel.

I guess it depends on how much weight you put on “fate” when it comes to planning a trip, packing your bags, boarding a plane and landing in a foreign destination.

Travel is like the weather – sometimes, you just have to take what you get. And you make the most of it.

I’ve come to realize there’s not much point in relying on luck to get you where you need to be, nor should you trust it to fluff your hotel pillow at night, nor to make sure your room service is still hot when it arrives at your door.

Because some things are simply out of your control. No matter how many reviews you read. No matter how perfectly your itinerary is mapped out beforehand. No matter how many times you checked off each item on your packing list.

You still get kidney stones days before your departure flight.

Or, you get stung by a wasp at the pool and your eye swells up so large you look like Quasimodo and you have to get a steroid injection in the ass by the resort nurse. (Yes, this happened.)

You see, travel is like the weather – sometimes, you just have to take what you get. And you make the most of it.

Fortunately, this incident with the wasp and the needle happened late afternoon on our last full day in Jamaica. Of course, it happened while I was minding my own business. It happened as I was soaking up every last drop of the Vitamin D I’ve been so deprived of for the last five months. Suddenly I felt an itch at my temple, and as I went to brush it away, I quickly discovered (with a sharp stinging pain) that it was not a simple itch but rather a vicious wasp out to ruin my much-deserved vacation.

Well, Ms. Wasp, I have news for you: my vacations are not so easily ruined.

At the time of the incident, the sun was still high in the sky, and we had yet to answer the call of our grumbling stomachs on the patio of the pizzeria nearby. (Such is how you tell the time on vacation, obviously).

I admit I was struck with sudden panic. Not by the sting itself (the doctors all lie – needles are definitely worse), but by the memory of my older sister climbing down the ladder that rested against the church we were working at that one summer we were employed by College Pro Painters. I remembered how she got stung twice on the back, and how her face swelled up so much she looked like she aged 60 years, and how her feet puffed out like elephant hooves.

And she got stung on her back.

I just got stung on the face and I haven’t been stung since I was very young, and allergies develop over time, and what if my tongue starts to swell and my throat closes up, and I am nowhere near a Canadian hospital, or anything resembling an emergency room for that matter…

One of our favourite resort staff members chose this precise moment to arrive at my chair by the pool to hand me my third frozen cocktail of the day. I think I took him by surprise as I pushed the drink against the side of my face while my husband rushed off to the swim-up bar for some ice.

When Mr. O returned, he explained what happened and Richard – the resort employee – said to let him know if we needed the nurse.

Me, by the pool, pre-wasp

Me, by the pool, pre-wasp

We headed for some shade, and I spent the next 40 minutes battling brain freeze and reminiscing about when the pastor had stopped my sister and I that day as we headed for the car to drive to the doctor’s, so that he could say a prayer for her.

But as time passed, it seemed I had escaped the wasp allergy genetics. The sting mark was the size of a swollen mosquito bite at my hairline – and there was no way I was letting this measly wasp steal away any more of the beautiful day. So Mr. O and I headed to the pizzeria, like we would on any typical day, and then back to the pool for the afternoon.

It wasn’t until the pool aerobics class had come and gone, and the familiar reggae songs we’d been listening to all week had played their tune, that I pulled down my large sunglasses to apply more sunscreen and my husband’s face dropped at the look of me. (Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever had to say – or write – that before.)

It was then that I noticed my eyelid felt a little heavier than usual, and he quickly informed me this was because my eye was swelling up like a balloon. We rushed back to our room and he got more ice as I stared into the mirror at the Quasimodo-look-alike I was quickly beginning to resemble. I popped a couple Benadryl and brushed off my husband’s calm suggestions about visiting the resort nurse, choosing instead to sit and wait for the swelling to go down.

But my eye continued to be swallowed by inflamed skin, and finally I agreed it was time to go.

Less than an hour later, Mr. O and I were back at our room, laughing about the needle and my swollen face. Because sometimes you have to laugh it off.

You just have to deal with the situation at hand, and move forward.

The truth is, it could have been much worse. It could have happened on the first day, ruining all of my vacation photos and forcing me to hide behind large sunglasses all week (which would be awkward at the dinner table in the evenings). Or, the whole swollen tongue, closed-in throat situation could have really set us back.

But the circumstances at hand – though not ideal – were completely manageable. And this was not ruining our vacation.

As I write this post and reflect on the whole thing, I realize how relevant the situation is to business and the entrepreneurial pursuit. No matter how much you plan ahead, no matter how much you prepare yourself to take the leap, you’re going to face some nasty wasps along the way and they’re going to be looking to screw up your day, or your week, or even your year. But you just have to deal with the situation at hand, and move forward.

I guess a select group of entrepreneurs may rely on luck to get their businesses up and running. As for the rest of us… we roll with the wasp stings, take the needle in the ass, and get back to work.

Editor’s note: It has been brought to my attention that only female wasps and bees can sting, as “males do not have the egg-laying ovipositor that is modified into a stinger on female insects.” The original post read “Mr. Wasp,” and this has now been corrected in efforts to control bias about male wasps ruining vacations.


Charlotte is a writer, blogger and amateur photographer based out of Toronto with interests in positivity, creative muse, generational differences and the future of work. She has written for Zoomer Magazine, The Globe and Mail, The Huffington Post Canada and other Canadian publications. She currently blogs for a range of small and medium-sized businesses.

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