Saturday, February 20, 2010

Senior Moments

My last position at TFL before I left to have my daughters was in the Group Sales department, where I was in charge of booking and overseeing the bus tours. Now, I’ve never been particularly drawn to a career in sales (I really can’t handle the rejection that comes along with it), but thankfully TFL sold itself. The most challenging part of my job was convincing groups that the off-season in Vermont is just as lovely a time to visit as other times of year, and yes of course the tulips will be in bloom by May 5. (Photo below: me, 9 months pregnant with twins, and the tour guide from Wenham COA.)

The majority of the tours were booked by senior citizen organizations in New England, so we built tempting itineraries around such Vermonty activities as maple sugaring, visit’s to Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory and the Cabot Cheese factory, and of course included a healthy dose of von Trapp lore. There was a daily showing of a 20 minute Trapp Family documentary and afternoon tea sing-along’s with my aunt Rosemarie, who would lead the groups in singing American folksongs, tunes from the Sound of Music, and other various crowd pleasers. The highlight of the visit was an evening performance by Elisabeth von Trapp, who would mesmerize the crowd with her enchanting voice (she really got the musical genes) and childhood memories of Maria.

For my part, I had to swallow my stage fright and play host to the group, welcome them when they arrived, sometimes act as tour guide for the day, and introduce Elisabeth before she performed. Sometimes I messed with their heads a bit. I remember one time using a remote mike to project my voice into the bus without physically being there. I put on my best Austrian accent and pretended to be Maria speaking from the grave. They ate it up. I loved my seniors – they thought I was hilarious.

But that’s not the best story. This one is. To promote these tours, I would often travel to exhibit at the Senior Travel Planners Association expos around New England. On one particular occasion, I was stationed at our booth, handing out brochures and little nip bottles of Vermont Maple Syrup (the attendees LOVED it), and answering all sorts of questions, openly admitting to being an authentic member of the family, and listening to stories of past trips, concerts, etc. A women approached who was much younger than the rest of the crowd, and I figured she must work at a Council on Aging or something. She stood there for a moment studying the family photos, taking in the sign “Trapp Family Lodge” clearly trying to make a connection. Then it hit her and she held up her finger in recognition. “Fiddler on the Roof, right?” I blinked. “Close!” I said.

And just like that, I had my opening joke for introducing Elisabeth from that day forward. How could I have not loved that job? -- F.v.T.


  1. LOL! I remember my one summer at the Lodge and you and the other wait/bar staff would have "the stupid question of the week". I remember "Where's the old lodge?" and someone said, "In the basement." :) Dad told me I had to check out your blog, and I LOVE IT! Keep it comin'.

    Cousin Bridget

  2. Thanks! Glad you did - and glad you joined in with a memory of your own. I'd forgotten about that one and it's great! Any more?

  3. OK, I've been reading your blog this morning since Ed had to work so I didn't have to help him with the German homework, and I really like this. I knew there was something about you when I first saw you in the German class, before I even knew who you were. I'm glad I got to meet you. Great job with the blog!

  4. Hi Daniela - Vielen Dank! The feelings are mutual, and I'm looking forward to more fun times ahead in Arizona AND in Germany with you, Ed and Holgi!