By Marge Wang
For Northwest Asian Weekly
My husband, Calvin, and I recently returned from a trip to China. We had a wonderful itinerary, which included visiting sights in megacities like Beijing and Shanghai, exploring historic treasures in Xi’an and Wuhan, and gauging the spectacular scenery of the Three Gorges on the Yang-tze River.
As in other tours that we have been on, most of the participants were senior citizens. However, it seems that there were more ‘senior moments’ than usual. I thought I would share these moments as incidents that could have been prevented and perhaps be helpful reminders to future travelers.
A senior moment occurred in Beijing’s enormous new airport. After traversing the long corridors, moving walkways, and clearing immigration and customs, we went to pick up our luggage.
We then waited for a long time with other members of our tour group. The tour escort finally came and said that one member of our group, Lucy, could not find her suitcase. But there was one unclaimed piece tagged with the name of another member, George.
We rechecked our suitcase tags, and sure enough, George found that he had picked up Lucy’s suitcase! Both suitcases were black and both had similar orange straps.
Too many senior moments occurred at the hotel. One member of our group forgot his secret code for the safe in his room. He and his wife spent some time trying to come up with the correct numbers. Finally, they called the front office. A technician was quickly sent to open the safe. Meanwhile, we were all waiting on the bus …
The panicky senior moment occurred when a fellow passenger was already seated on the plane to Xi’an when she realized that she did not have her purse and that she must have left it at the security check area. She dashed out of the plane and back to the boarding gate. Fortunately, the security people had found it and had delivered it to our tour escort!
The shutterbug senior moment occurred in Shanghai when we stopped at the Bund, the Huangpu River embankment with famous old colonial buildings. We were reminded to return to the bus in 30 minutes, at which time the tour escort started counting heads.
Just then, the escort’s cell phone rang and we heard her say in Chinese, “Oh, you have with you a foreign lady with white hair. What is her name? Yes, yes, Doris. She is in my group of tourists! Where are you? I am coming right away to pick her up.”
Thank goodness for the name tags we all wore. On the back of each name tag was the cell phone number of our tour escort. Doris had been so engrossed in taking photos that she had forgotten about the time and did not notice that the rest of the group had left. Among the crowds of tourists and locals, she spotted a policeman. He did not speak English, but he did take her to an office where they understood that she wanted to call the number on her name tag.
The most entertaining senior moment (for me) occurred on our return flight from Shanghai to Seattle. We had to change planes in Tokyo. Instead of a one-hour layover, the plane was delayed three hours. I decided to stretch out across some empty chairs. I left Calvin reading a paper by the boarding gate.
Before I dozed off, I thought I’d go to the restroom. As I passed by Calvin, I found him sleeping soundly, with the paper on the floor. His carry-on bag with all our important documents and valuables was on the aisle beside him, not under his seat.
I quietly went by, picked up the bag and made my way to a different part of the waiting area. Some five minutes later, Calvin woke and immediately jumped up, looking all around his chair for the missing bag. He could not find me as I was hiding behind a column watching his frantic actions. After having a good laugh, I took pity on him and showed my face.
When we told family members about these senior moments, the younger generation graciously commented, “These mistakes can happen to anyone, not only seniors.”
I am afraid that they happen more frequently with seniors! ♦