We finally, FINALLY got up to Altoona and over to East Broad Top for Fall Spectacular, and that wasn't false advertising. Blue skies, crisp but not freezing temperatures, brilliant fall color...
and a busload of jerks. Well, not just the busload; they had about a dozen cars tagging along, too. Mind, these were not elderly people who might have had Alzheimer's or a related dementia that could have explained their behavior. They were just...mean. Middle-aged, most of them women, faces set in permanent pout and glower mode, they seemed to suspect that we were having a good time, and that made them angry. Fortunately, they didn't ruin everything, but they did leave a couple of deep bruises on my shins at the museum.
You think I'm kidding? We stepped up to the L-shaped counter to show our life memberships half a second before the whole tour slammed into the doors. Husband and son shuffled sideways around the corner into the gift shop proper, but I can't move that fast. Before I could react, I was smashed against the counter with a woman my own age kicking me in the shins. "Move. MOVE!@ GET OUT OF THE WAY! Make her move. She's in my way." Someone grabbed my arms and shoved me to the other side of the aisle. Unfortunately, that put me in the way of another plump angry woman. "Get out of the way! Why do they let them in here? Move! Move!" She shoved me into the magazine rack, where an elderly man cracked me across the shins with his cane. I bolted for the door and let the whole rampage storm off, yelling at one another, complaining about the gift shop and screaming that the bus driver was going to leave and Lori was going to have to ride with Sandy but she wasn't putting up with Sandy smoking and...
They had the attention span of fleas, so they were gone in a few minutes and we were able to spend a nice afternoon on the mountain. Finding a hotel wasn't easy, but we got a room, and...oh, garbage, there was the bus and the mob of cars.
I don't know whether there really were fifty of them, or it only seemed that way; there were a couple of husbands, an elderly couple who seemed a little lost in the mass, and a pair of kids who seemed to be taking care of the numerous small dogs the crew had brought along. All of them were going up and down the stairs, apparently full-time, all night, and I was always IN THEIR WAY. They had a lot of fun to have in a hurry, blankety-blank it.
Getting smacked into walls by the human bulldozers wouldn't have been so bad, but we wanted to get an early start in the morning. There aren't a lot of breakfast opportunities between the hotel and Orbisonia. It shouldn't have been a problem, because the cheap chain hotel has coffee, toast and cereal in the lobby. Er, they would have had, but the bus tour got there first. If they were aggressive about the gift shop and the stairwell, you can only imagine what happened when they were hungry and hadn't had any caffeine yet. We escaped with our lives, even if we did have to run across the parking lot with our stuff because they were charging out with theirs and those driving cars were peeling out as soon as they had their own stuff in their rides, not always counting their co-riders and pets. I don't know where they went. I'm just glad it wasn't where we were headed.
After we got home, the hotel's automated survey wanted a million questions answered, most of which amounted to endless rephrasing of "Was the guy at the front desk nice to you?" Yeah, he was, but a lot of the other hotel guests were...okay, here's what they really should have asked:
1. Was there anything we could have done to control the busload of fall foliage tour people?
A. Yes, but it probably wasn't legal.
B. Yes, but the cops can't haul that many angry 50-somethings off at once.
C. No, but being allowed to clobber them with a chair would have been nice.
D. No, and it's a good thing the night clerk had that counter in front of him or they might have eaten him.
2. Look, on a good day our free continental breakfast is two loaves of bread, some Cheerios and a couple of bagels. It's a cheap chain motel. We even sprang for coffee in your room. Did you get anything to eat?
A. Yes, I managed to stick an arm between the two squabbling siblings and grabbed a packet of dry oatmeal.
B. Yes, one of them finally let me have a packet of peanut butter and we had bread in the car.
C. No, when I wandered into the lobby I got knocked into a wall and don't remember anything after that.
D. Have you seen my left arm? I'm afraid it may have been bitten off.
3. Was the noise level bothersome?
A. Only if you don't like living under the center ring at a circus.
B. No, I think people are entitled to have fun on trampolines.
C. My ears are still ringing from the combination of screaming, barking dogs and some movie of the week turned up to Blow Out The TV Speakers.
D. HUH? WHAT?
4. Did you have any problem with the mob of yappy little dogs?
A. Yes, but they were better behaved than their owners.
B. Yes, but I couldn't hear them very much over the other racket.
C. No, the dogs didn't run up the stairs and bowl me over, then complain that I was "on the wrong side".
D. No, and a couple of the dogs tried to come home with us to avoid having to clean up after their owners.
5. How could we make your stay more pleasant in the future?
A. The heck with making them pay extra for the dogs. Let the dogs sleep in the room and send the people out in the parking lot.
B. Make a breakfast announcement at 6:30 AM. Allow the whole mob to stampede downstairs, knock one another around and scour the place for the last Cheerio. As soon as they leave, set out breakfast for the rest of us. Don't worry about the seventeen pots of coffee they drained. I drink decaf. They should.
C. Arm the rest of us with bullhorns and whips.
D. Complimentary tasers and pepper spray.
Should we get to go up that way again, I think I'll ask if we can stay at the museum. It's supposed to be haunted, but the non-physical folks I've run into don't even mind if you use the vending machines.