Throughout my life I've had the opportunity to work under several different managers. I feel like I'm a decent worker, but no matter how hard I work or how much I clean, upon inspection a manager always finds something else that needs doing. I've always marveled at this. It's like they would see things that no one else can see. I've heard it called, “manager eyes”, a term meaning managers can see what the other workers can't. I confirmed first hand that there was no myth to this theory. The second Yollana left I inherited the manager eyes.
Because of my manager eyes, our first day on our own was spent cleaning, and not just daily cleaning but big, deep, spring-cleaning type of stuff. It was magical. All of a sudden I saw all sorts of things I had hardly noticed before. Together all five of us picked up trash that was caught in the bushes. We cleaned behind the appliances in the kitchen. Then we cleaned under the appliances (gross). We found cobwebs in dark corners I previously didn't know even existed. We even raked leaves around the property.
Maggie found a bucket of bleach and took the liberty to clean the sinks, child toys, showers and toilets. I found sanitizer and gave Danny the job of spraying down all of the chairs, couches and tables. Pierre spent half a day cleaning up the yard and Matthew made a concoction for killing weeds.
By the end of the day we were exhausted but we had enough energy left to celebrate our newly found freedom. Maggie and I prepared kangaroo spaghetti, and salad while the others poured glasses of white and red wine (goon) to go with our meal. We toasted to our first day on our own and relished in the feeling of a clean and quiet house.
With five young people representing four different nationalities, our dinner conversations were very interesting. We discussed World War II and how we were all related to it; how it shaped all of our countries and helped modernize the world. We talked about how in the beginning the Brits and the French made settlements all over the world, therefore their influence is all over the world. Matthew gave the example of the Louisiana purchase and how New Orleans and even Quebec are still very French. Pierre mentioned the African tribes who are heavily French influenced and Maggie suggested the huge British influence on Australia.
As we sat talking, I thought again about how the country of origin shapes people. Here sat the Frenchmen talking on and on about history, power and politics. The Americans would chime in now and again with their powerful statements but most of the time they just smiled and and nodded. The German girl was loud and her presence was known. She was quick to suggest beer with the meal. The most powerful of all, perhaps was the Chinese. Here sat a girl from China who was very silent throughout most of the evening, yet she was probably the most powerful in intelligence, money and influence—but us arrogant countries would never know until we needed to find out. Even in WWII China was silent but powerful. French, German and US all fought loud and proud. Australia joined in when they finally had to—China stayed silent and strong, even still they remain today that way.
After my second glass of wine the business phone rang. It was Cabin 6 in need of an extra blanket. I excused myself from the table and journeyed towards my first after-hours management responsibility. When I arrived at the cabin I knocked on the door and watched in amazement as the shadows behind the curtain removed first a chair, then a broomstick and finally the curtain. When I saw the face of the shadows I realized it was the two older ladies who were booked in for ten nights. There names were Desirae and Penny. They had been to the cafe a few times already. I knew this because with each visit to the cafe the ladies were kind enough to mention which of our services needed improving. One time the coffee was too hot and another time I had to remake a coffee because the cup was too heavy for the woman with weak wrists. She requested that I remake it in a to-go cup so she could lift it easier.
When the shorter haired one opened the door I flushed a bit when I realized she was only in a nightgown. I handed her the blanket and made sure I had my work smile on. “Is there anything else I can get you ladies?”
“Yes, dear. Our lock doesn't work from the inside. We had to barricade the door so we would be safe but it still feels quite scary out here. We're just two vulnerable women alone out here so we'd like to be able to lock the door. Mind you come in and give it a try for us?”
I stepped inside the cabin and was hit with an odd mix of smells. There was a floral, perfume scent mixed with cooked peppers and medicine. The other lady was sitting in a chair not far from the door, watching Jeopardy. There were blankets all around the common area and bags and bags of groceries too. I turned back towards the door and wiggled the key for a few minutes before calling uncle. I already knew our locks weren't the best because I have trouble every time I clean a cabin. I told the ladies I'd go get one of the men to come look at it.
I killed the car once before making a jerky reverse out of their driveway. I drove up the road and back to the hostel where I found Matthew helping the others with the dinner dishes. He grabbed a few tools and then asked politely if he could drive.
This time the ladies had on robes. They smiled sweeter and made cute comments towards Matthew. I laughed when one of them made a joke about inviting him to stay the night and keep them warm. Naturally they were very impressed when Matthew fixed the lock after just a few tries. They thanked us for our work and then went straight in to a story about Canada. They told about Niagra Falls and how they talked the tour guide into letting them take extra pictures. They told us the name of the Canadian hotels they stayed in and which ones had the best views. They named each city they visited and what was unique about it. We listened to their synopsis on Canada for fifteen minutes before they switched gears and began reviewing their thirteen day tour of America.
While I listened to them talk it struck me funny, what some people found important compared to others. Here these two ladies were near the latter part of their life. I had had two or three brief conversations with them before this point and all were about their travels. Even still, in this epilogue, the two of them talked in great detail of all the wonderful places they had seen in the world. They could tell me how many miles they traveled in each country, which stops they made in what order, where they stayed, how much they paid for their meals, the name of the restaurants, the curve of the earth along with its landmarks. They spoke with such description and importance of each place they had visited. They didn't want to stop telling us of all the wonders the world had showed them.
Though I normally loved hearing travel stories, for some reason I found myself having mixed emotions about older people sharing so much emotionalism for travel. One part of me thought it was inspiring. They had explained that they didn't want to wait any longer to see the world because like many of their friends, they probably would decease.
On the other hand, I felt a sort of sadness. I figured the ladies to be in their early seventies or so. Though they were approximately ten years younger than my own grandmother I thought about the things my grandmother held important to her over the past ten years. Her and my grandfather had traveled plenty throughout the entirety of their life, yet they didn't talk about the earth like these two did. My grandparents, on any given day will gush in great detail about all the wonderful people in their family. My grandmother knows from memory each of her five children, thirteen grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren's names, birthdays and current life seasons. She talks to all of these individuals on a regular basis, or at least does her part to contact them. The love my grandparents have for each of their offspring was just as great as these ladies' love for travel. Though travel is neat, I think about how much more powerful the love of another human being is. I have cousins and second cousins who don't have a clue how much they mean to my grandparents. They have sometimes been surprised when I share with them the fact that my grandmother regularly asks about them and prays for them.
What better blessing than to have someone like that in your life, much less as family related by blood!
I wondered if these ladies had children. Perhaps they did but their children had grown up and left them all alone. I had seen it happen all too often at the Assisted Living centers. My grandparents have visitors two or three times a week. Our family is constantly in and out of the center, taking grandma and grandpa for drives, dinners and outings. We love them as much as they love us. Yet across the hallway there are wonderful people who don't get so much as a monthly phone call from the children they raised. How sad it is to watch them sit at the dinner table alone during the Thanksgiving holiday meals we are all invited to.
I could be wrong. Maybe these ladies lived the best of both worlds. Maybe their children and grandchildren loved them very much and called them often but they also had time and passion for travel too. Maybe they were the blessed few.
After forty minutes had passed, Matthew finally said we had to go. Desirae started in on another story about Sydney but Matthew and I politely made our way out the door and told them to have a wonderful evening. They were sweet but we did need to get back to the hostel.