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Three words: acute gastrointestinal distress. That is how my roommate from the fam tour, the petite redhead from western Massachusetts, got me my job with the tour company. We had kept up a very busy pace on our whirlwind tour of Canada, learning firsthand what it meant to be a world class tour guide, seeing the sights, and enjoying ourselves in spite of the pressure of an extended five day job interview. The last stop on the tour was Quebec City. We stayed at the Château Frontenac, a historic resort hotel in the old city of Quebec. As a group, we had our last dinner of the trip and celebrated our promising futures as world traveling tour guides. Later that night, my roommate fell ill.

It was a miserable type of ill. In the middle of the night, she ran to the loo. She wasn’t loud or anything, but I knew something was terribly wrong. After a while when she did not emerge, I knocked quietly on the door to check on her. She apologized for waking me. I asked her what I could do. She said she would be ok, but it would be better if she remained in the loo. Wanting to make her comfortable, I took the sheets, blankets, and pillows from her bed and made her a nest in the middle of the marble floor in the bathroom. I went back to sleep.

In the morning, she was still in the loo. We talked and she said she felt terribly. She told me she would get ready to go because she really didn’t have much of a choice. I got ready and went to breakfast. I asked the waiter for some saltine crackers. When I got back to the room she looked wan, but was dressed. I gave her the crackers. Because we had a deadline each morning to have our luggage outside the door to our rooms in order to be picked up and put on the motorcoach, I packed her things and put our bags out. After a bit, I grabbed her carryon bag and we went downstairs to board the bus.

After our mid-morning coffee break, the tour guide manager approached me to say that what I had done for my roommate was nice. I said that given the circumstances, I did what anyone would have done. He made a joke about me being Florence Nightingale. Apparently word had spread about the events of the previous evening. I honestly didn’t think what I had done was a big deal. But in the world of tour guiding, I had hit a homerun. Caring and empathy. Qualities that mattered because tour guiding is about taking care of people. I had proven I could do that. For this reason, I owed my roommate a debt of gratitude. Her misery in that bathroom at the Château Frontenac assured me my position as tour guide.

After about a week, I received word that I had gotten the job! Perhaps I would have gotten the job without the Florence Nightingale routine. It certainly didn’t hurt. I was very happy to find out my roommate was offered a job as well! Then, the next phase of tour guide training was scheduled to begin.

Yours, Merryweather

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