I was working on an itinerary for an upcoming bus tour this fall and flashed back to a bus tour we had last fall.
Was I guilty of ageism? Perhaps. But when the senior’s euchre tournament bus tour arrived at the lodge on that fateful Sunday, I was genuinely dreading the three days that would follow. I made an egregious error in judgement.
Admittedly, the tour had not begun well for the 42 participants but the fault was not ours. A slight hiccup in their agenda had caused them to arrive an hour and a half early and we were thoroughly unprepared for the sudden onset of walkers, luggage and upset elders. We did our best to scramble and be as accommodating as possible. I made a witty speech welcoming them on behalf of the owners and staff and my words were met with sullen stares and moderate contempt. It was a bumpy start.
Once we regained control, our momentum increased and we began to get everyone settled into their rooms. I had entered first and once Betty and Rose reached those three stairs Betty took the lead. Once she was at the top, Rose began to follow. Betty reached for the door frame and found nothing but a handful of air. As I turned to look behind me, Betty, doing her best impression of a tree being felled in the forest, fell straight backwards and took Rose out, using her as a cushion for the fall. The two ladies I had escorted to their room had just fallen and couldn’t get up. Thankfully we got them into an upright and relatively stable position and, after many unqualified examinations, we deemed they were medically stable.
The group’s first dinner was an interesting event. Still unsure of their surroundings, many uttered complaints that hung in the air like angry cartoon balloons. There were threats of husbands being called to retrieve them the following morning and the night was punctuated by another woman being hit in the head by a heartily kicked-open kitchen door. In the span of six hours, we had potentially concussed three women.
But then something changed. Over the course of the following 60 hours, attitude and understanding rapidly evolved on both sides. We understood the nature of their initial frustration and they understood the nature of our good will and hospitality. By the end of their three night stay, I was calling them all by their first name and I was truly sad to see them climb the stairs to get back on the bus. There were many hugs and talks of seeing them again next year. I will admit that I was close to tears saying goodbye to these lovely souls.
Perhaps it was the sideways glances I got from Rose that reminded me so much of my mom. Maybe it was that bond of parenthood I have been missing since my mom and dad passed. Whatever the reason, I will be ready and willing to welcome that next bus tour with open arms and use this enlightening experience as a lesson for the future.