Visual Comprehension Disorder, or Great Idea for a Cozy Mystery Series?

2nd from left, I joyfully wave, oblivious to the horrors that await me as a travel agent

Andi Anna Jones, mediocre travel agent, with an inferiority complex about her job, her looks, and her single status, discovers her “inner sleuth” in Margaritas, Mayhem & Murder.

Perhaps you wonder how I decided on Andi’s occupation, personality, fears, and life story? Keeping with some excellent advice I got years ago, to “write what you know’, her character is loosely based on a horrifying stint I had in North Miami Beach as a travel agent. I was truly awful and would duck down behind my computer whenever a customer came in the door.

This was no reflection on my wonderful boss who gave me every opportunity to succeed. I also had fantastic co-workers who pitched in to help when I got in a jam. For instance, a fabulous agent named Ellen recognized my fear from the first day and would usually jump in to help when I got stuck. I’m sure some part of her generosity was so she wouldn’t have to correct my errors at some later and (more expensive) time. Even so, I struggled and fought to comprehend the job while my brain continued to jumble $$$ – SDF-DFW – 10:40 ET, 7:20 PT, 3:30, MT, and (heaven help me!) Greenwich Mean Time.

My patient husband, Ken, would comfort me when I’d drag through our door… Every. Single. Night. I was so far out of my comfort zone I figured it would take a Universe of worm holes to get back. Why was I so bad at that job? I’m a smart person. Sure, I failed geometry, and barely passed algebra, but I could spell and pronounce any multi-syllable word you threw at me.

Perhaps I have Visual Comprehension Disorder? For instance, put me into a fast food restaurant and tell me to choose a meal, I can stand there until they close down before I’ll fully grasp the entire menu. Put me at an airline computer reservation screen and I’m unable to connect the categories for departure, arrival, price, or qualification. I do not, however, have other symptoms of this disorder such as: Confusing similar looking words, poor reading comprehension, difficulty telling time or understanding the concept of time, easily forgetting letters, numbers or words, or a poor speller.

However, two other categories caught my eye. Handwriting that is crooked or poorly spaced (Okay, my handwriting is atrocious!) and difficulty following multi-stepped directions (Yep, this is me!)

Difficulty aside, I made it through one whole year before we made the decision to move from the east coast of Florida to the west. I’m not sure who celebrated most when I walked out that agency door for the last time. Me or that saint of a travel agency owner, Patty.

Writing the series about Andi, her competent employee, Ellie, and the rest of the quirky cast, has helped exorcise the experience from my memory by giving Andi a positive outlet for her curiosity and love of a good mystery. I’ve also shared many laughs along the way as Andi stumbles and crashes her way through danger, intrigue, romance, frustration, and closure.

So, dear reader, please be kind when you judge Andi’s incompetence and lack of confidence. You might hurt the author’s feelings.

*In an ironic turn of events, I taught travel and tourism in Fort Myers, Florida. Loved the job and was good at it! Go figure.

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