Remember Who You Are Teaching

Remember Who You Are Teaching 

Written By: Dana Forbes, PSIA-AASI RM CEO

The other day I was pulling out of the parking garage outside of my office and I noticed an older couple taking photos. I was confused, as they were directed towards the Grand Hotel in Steamboat. While it is an incredible location, the Grand Hotel is your typical three toned, 4 story GIANT hotel at a major resort, so for the life of me I could not figure out why they would want a photo of it.

Then, as I drove home and reflected on it and then made up a story about these folks.

The story went like this…

Paula and Steve were in their mid-60’s, from Minnesota, no Indiana or maybe Iowa. They had worked their entire lives with little or no vacations. Their dream was to someday drive across the country to see the amazing Rocky Mountains. They planned this trip for decades and often spoke about it over dinner with jokes like “when we get out there to Colorado maybe we will see a Bear or a Moose and bring it back with us.” They chose the Fall because they had seen photos of the golden aspens, and while they wanted to see snow, they were terrified of those notorious snowstorms. When their kids were still at home, some 20 years ago, they started saving. They had a change jar and at the end of every day they threw in the day’s left-over coins. They even had house rules to increase the income a bit. You could pay $0.25 to the jar if you wanted to choose what TV show was played that night, another $0.25 if a curse word was used, and $0.50 if you ever started a fight with your sibling. Pennies, nickels, and dimes added up, and year after year they tried to get closer to their goal, but year after year that trip’s price increased. But they didn’t give up. Eventually their kids grew up and moved showing no interest in joining their parents, but Paula and Steve persevered. Even Steve’s hip replacement and Paula’s bout with breast cancer set them back a few years but they endured. Finally, they both retired and spent another year planning their route and stops along the way. Then COVID hit and travel delayed them another year but maintained determined to meet their goal.

So, on a warm day in early October, they set off at 6AM, from North Carolina, the destination beautiful Steamboat Springs CO, then north to Wyoming and back home. They planned several days to drive so they could stop and take as many photos as possible along the way. They stayed at the cheapest hotels they could find and packed food in a cooler to eat. The plan was for the real vacation to start once they got to Colorado. They had booked 3 nights in the Grand Hotel, made 3 dinner reservations at nice restaurants, booked a massage, a ride up the Gondola and horseback ride at a ranch in Clark. The three nights at the hotel cost more than their mortgage and the 3 dinners cost more than 2 months of groceries, but for the first time in their lives they were going to live like the other half.

Two days into the trip, their old Ford Explorer got a flat, but they were smart and had AAA so had it fixed and were on their way again. They played car games, listened to music, talked about the beauty all around them, and most importantly talked to one another. It was 1:00 in the afternoon as they came over Rabbit Ears Pass and after stopping a total of 11 times to take photos, they saw the resort and the valley below and in silence they took it in. They arrived at the Grand Hotel at 2:13 PM and it was everything the website had portrayed and more. After taking 23 more photos of the front desk, entry and waterfall and getting settled in their room, they walked out to go over to see the base area. They turned and saw this grand hotel and more photos were to be had. At that moment I pulled out of the garage and saw them.

With disappointment in myself I write this article because my initial reaction was to question why anyone would take a photo of this hotel. This place I go to everyday, with the aspens outside of my window I sometimes fail to see and the mountain behind them that I take for granted. But I am here to remind myself and you of something. I know many of us teach families with abundance and means that have no end and it is easy to believe that these are the people who invade our towns, rent our VRBO’s, and own second homes when we can barely afford our rent. However, as the season is upon us, do not assume you know everyone’s story. Do not take the customers for granted. Serve them as you would Paula and Steve and make their dream vacation, they spent a lifetime saving for, just that, a dream.

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