One Man’s Pleasure, Another Man’s Pressure

I don’t know where I’ve heard this or if I even heard it right. One man’s pleasure, another man’s pressure. I couldn’t find it anywhere said like this, but when I did hear it, it struck a chord inside me.

Somehow, this has meaning in the job that I do. I’m a mountain guide and I was about to leave again for an eight day tour into the mountains when I heard that.

The Dream Job

You see, when I quit the military to become a mountain guide, it all sounded like a dream job. Being paid to do what you love. Being paid to hike. Being paid to go for days into the mountains. What mountain lover wouldn’t like to be paid for hiking every day, right?

Now – more than five years later – wrong.

So what’s the problem here?

view from above lake caltun

The Reality Check

I’m tired. I’m tired of that pressure I was talking about. The pleasure of all those tourists transforms into pressure for you as a guide. And there are so many details you can’t see from outside, so much you can’t think of when you see it as the best job in the world. The dream job.

Well, today, I don’t believe in dream jobs anymore. They don’t exist. There’s always something behind the scenes that you don’t get to see until you’re in over your head. Something that will make at least some of your days miserable while doing what you thought to be the best job in the world.

If you’re a human, you already know that working with other humans is tough business. Especially when you deliver a service and you’re directly in contact with the client. It’s tough because of that pressure I was talking about. One man’s pleasure (the client’s) becomes the other man’s pressure (the provider of that service). As a guide, you’re the interface between the agency and the tourist, or between the restaurant and the tourist and so on. You’re between the hammer and the anvil.

And that’s not a pretty spot to be in.

Sometimes it’s wonderful. Sometimes the people are just lovely, but other times… Well, I’m sure you’ve had plenty of those experiences too so you know what I mean. Whenever something’s not right and there’s somebody to blame or spill their complaints to, well, you’re the only one there.

donkey in the green grass

One Man’s Pleasure is Another Man’s Pressure

Is the beer not cold enough? They’ll tell you, not the waiter. Is the food shitty? You’ll know that when you ask them if everything was ok and they tell you that it was great while putting on a fake smile with a look on their faces that tells you they’d take that half full plate and throw it in the face of somebody. Anybody. But the only one there is you.

You’ll know it when their high expectations are met with just the basic of standards in an old mountain hut and you can’t do anything about it because that was the only option. And you weren’t even the one to choose it.

And when you’d like to take a few minutes off from all that merry-go-round, and they all want something, and they all have some troubles to solve and when they believe that you’re the only person in the world to solve their complaints and requests… Vlad, I need one more coffee.

Fuck you. Go get it yourself.

But no, you can’t say that.

exposed passage in the mountains

There’s No Dream Job

Dream job my ass. When you’re there, you just don’t have the time to enjoy the mountains. There’s always something. There’s always somebody who can’t even walk properly, so the pressure’s on your shoulders to make sure that the respective person makes it to the destination in one piece. Because when you ask them about how experienced they are, they all say they’re superman and that they did tough hikes and all, but they’re barely able to walk on flat ground for more than one hour straight.

Not to mention the times when you find out at 2500 meters above the sea level, before an exposed passage that needs to be climbed, that in fact they have vertigo and fear of heights and all the right reasons not to be there in the first place.

And then there’s that moment when you realize you can’t do the tour that was planned 3 months ago when they booked the whole thing, because of someone who overestimated their abilities. And you can’t split the group because there’s no other colleague available and you can’t leave them by themselves either, so you need to change the plan according to the abilities of the one who thought himself superman and found out the hard way that he wasn’t.

Now guess what happens when you do that. The other ones, the fit ones, they feel like they wasted their time and money in vain, because what you can do with the whole group is far too easy for them. And somehow, with no other options, you’ve got to solve that. They might not say it, but the pressure is there. On your shoulders. Phone calls, bus transfers, new bookings, cancellations, extra costs, more phone calls. Good luck lying on the grass looking at the sky.

looking at the sky

So yeah. One man’s pleasure is another man’s pressure.

That pressure keeps on accumulating until you’ve got no more energy left to deal with all those situations. And that’s when you realize that your so called dream job is nothing else but a tough job to do. And that you’re not paid to hike the mountains, but to be there for people who can’t ask for a damned coffee by themselves.

rain can be one man's pleasure and another's pain

But then it starts raining like crazy and all of a sudden everything becomes that much more interesting… Vlad, for how long will it rain? How the fuck should I know? For some of them, heavy rain somehow means just a few drops of water between the warm rays of the sun.

And that’s when the whole thing shifts. When one man’s pleasure becomes another man’s pain.

Oh, how I love the rain.

Cover Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash


  1. Marques
    July 27, 2018

    I think a solution would be to change your job when the magic starts to disappear.

    • Vlad C.
      July 28, 2018

      Yeah. That was always the solution. I’m in the transition period right now. 🙂 There are even studies on the subject showing that it’s a good idea to change your job once you get to a plateau, which happens after around 4-5 years. And I’m already there.

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