by John Rabbitt
When a trip leader for a group of 15, that has rafted rivers all over the U.S., calls and wants to book a three-river trip with your company you want to be able to give them the best experience that your company can offer. Going all out to accommodate them is the priority. The owner of the company wants the group to remember whom they rafted with. So, starting with the Penobscot, the group runs the notorious Double Trouble, then on to the Dead River with the craziest hole dropping/surfing guides, and then to end the rafting adventure with the mighty Kennebec River and a duckie run from Carry Brook down.
Seven am on the morning of the third and final day with the group, I assigned morning duties. The regular guides I sent to put-in. Needing two additional guides to take care of the 15 duckies and paddles, I asked a weekend warrior, Stacy and a full timer, but still green, second year guide named Steve to see to it. It was not normal for duckies to be brought in by pickup truck. Usually they are loaded on to the bus before the customers get on, and then the bus driver inflates them while waiting for the trip to arrive at Carry Brook. We wanted everything to be ready and set for this special group when they arrived at Carry Brook.
After having dispatched the put-in crews, I was able to get started on my daily pre-trip work. The company owner was scheduled to guide a raft and safety-kayak for the folks in duckies, so I wanted things to run smoothly. When Steve came flying back in with the duckie put-in truck I knew something was wrong.
Jumping out of the truck and then running over to me, Steve inquired if anyone had returned any of our duckie paddles. Not understanding why someone should’ve returned the duckie paddles I asked Steve to explain what was going on. Apparently on the infamous Indian Pond road some of the paddles had bounced out of the pickup truck and when Steve and Stacy arrived at Carry Brook they only had three paddles left. So Steve had left Stacy behind to inflate the duckies while he backtracked to find the missing paddles. Having driven all the way back to base and not finding a single paddle, he knew he was up the creek without one. We had sent all of the paddles that we had and they managed to loose 12 of them.
I did not have time to fix the problem and deal with customer check-in so I left it up to Steve to beg, borrow, and steal 12 paddles from another company. He told me that he could handle it and I knew he could. Soon Steve had scrounged up what he needed and headed back to Stacy and the duckies.
Having rafted down the upper Kennebec and arriving at the steps at Carry Brook with our 15 guests, we traded the rafts for the duckies to finish paddling the river. I started to pass out the duckies, helmets, and paddles to the customers when I realized that we only had 14 duckie paddles and the company owner’s personal kayak paddle. Steve had lost another paddle! This meant that the owner had to give up his kayak paddle -- and his chance to kayak -- so that all 15 customers had a paddle. This also meant that the owner had to paddle a raft the rest of the river by himself.
Of course the customers did not realize all that happened behind the scenes and had a great time paddling and playing with the duckies. The missing paddles were never returned and Steve was taken off the river guide schedule and put on lunch duty the rest of the season where he stood around the grill and cooked the steak and chicken in the summer heat.
by Amy Leppo
Why is shuttle so difficult anyway? I practically need a flow chart and statistics calculator to go out for a run with my buddies. It is all the gosh darn variables. Unreliable roof racks. Unreliable engine. Lack of seating space. Lack of space for a cooler. Lack of car clearance. My car, for example, grounded out on a medium-sized carpenter ant -- little bastard dented my oil pan. Never mind the Carry Brook Road after then groom it. Is that the right terminology? Grooming? Or yeah, grating. Sorry. Then the NRS strap problem. And who gets to sit in the front? And then there comes a time in all our lives when we need to shuttle mooch. I am that girl who acts all coy at the takeout and asks for a ride. Wet butt and all. I hate sitting there as this stranger rearranges all his personal belongings so he can give me a ride. How embarrassing...
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