One of the best treasures of traveling is the people that you meet along the way. I have been lucky to meet some incredible strangers on my trips who have helped me in one way or another, and usually it has been in the most unexpected ways.
If you follow my posts or Twitter you know that back in May I took a group of student to St. Louis for the yearly 8th grade trip. For many of our students this was the first time they had been outside the city, state, or even the first time they stayed in a hotel. Needless to say they were very excited, including during breakfast time.
We stayed at a Drury Inn where breakfast was provided each morning in the lobby. This was not only convenient but plentiful. There was a waffle making station which all the students flocked to immediately. The dispenser released the batter, which you then had to pour over the hot iron and then needed to wait patiently as it cooked. This was more difficult for teenagers than is sounds, especially the waiting part.
As I saw my students huddling around the station, making it inconvenient for the other guests, I decided to sip my coffee and manage the station myself. I made sure the kids didn’t make a mess, and if they did they clean it up. Nobody likes a sticky counter from syrup. I also made sure they didn’t leave their waffles idle in the machine for too long so everyone could get their breakfast quickly.
As I stood managing the orders an older gentleman approached me. He was right to assume that I was a chaperone of these kids and started to ask about where we were from and what brought us to St. Louis. I informed him about our school and students and he shared with me that he and his wife were traveling around the U.S. to visit all the baseball stadiums during the season and he would soon be in Milwaukee. I gave him some suggestions about places to visit and things to do during his stay. He then thanked me and returned to his table with his wife.
A few minutes and waffle orders later, he returned to me. He told me to enjoy my trip, smiled and shook my hand. When we shook I felt something in my hand and looked to see that he had slipped me a $20 bill.
“This is for any added travel expenses,” he said as he winked. I thanked him and gleefully stated that it would be used buy the students some souvenirs.
The next day we went to Grant’s Farm, where the money was used to buy food to feed the numerous animals they had there. I was already planning to pay for the students since most of our students’ families fall below the poverty line, and now I had more money burning in my pocket. We went into a parakeet cage where the birds flocked to us with our Popsicle sticks with birdseed on them. The students had the birds landing on their heads, shoulders and arms. We also fed camels, which is hilarious to watch as their lips go flying all over the place, rode camels, and fed the sheep and their babies with baby bottles. Throughout the day there were a lot of laughs, pictures and Snapchats and I think it is safe to say it was a fun day for everyone.