A few years ago we took a road trip to Bryce Canyon, Zion’s Canyon, and Vegas. Between Nevada and Arizona, we decided to stop at the site of one of the most impressive US engineering feats of the 20th century: Hoover Dam.
We looked forward to spending a couple of hours taking the inside tour, combing over historic photographs, learning the history of 1935’s world’s largest concrete structure, enjoying the breathtaking view, and extolling the dam’s massive hydro-electric power-generating system.
This was going to be both educational and fun.
In the slow stop-and-go traffic on the winding US 93 up to the Dam, our conversation was buzzing with anticipation. When we finally reached the top, parked the car, and began walking toward the entrance, we and about 200 other tourists were met by a swarm of police officers with guns, bullet-proof vests, special goggles, and walkie-talkies. The Dam was on lock-down.
Apparently, there had been a bomb threat and an abandoned backpack. Until they could inspect and clear it for safety (which would take all day), there would be no entrance, no tours, no pictures, no looking around, no snack bar, and no store souvenirs.
What a disappointment!
So, after taking one quick peak over the edge, we shuffled our way back to the car (no one saying anything) and joined the snail-paced line of traffic back down US 93. Now, this was no Disneyland, but we still missed out. This was no major tragedy – just a minor inconvenience, but, our one chance to tour Hoover Dam was gone – kaput. In the car, I anticipated an outburst of weeping and wailing. I knew it was coming: kids and teenagers, in concert, loudly protesting their letdown. Then it happened.
From my daughter in the middle seat, “Oh man, I wanted to take the Dam tour!”
Another teenager piped in, “I wanted some Dam food!” We started laughing.
I think it was grandma (my mom) who added, “Ya, I was looking forward to a Dam trinket.” That’s when the hysterics erupted in the car.
Not to be outdone, the final two kids exclaimed, “That Dam threat…”
“Ya, it made the Dam cop ruin our Dam trip!”
“Okay, okay,” said my Hubby, “stop that Dam language!” Everyone burst out laughing. We howled, we laughed, and hooted all the way down the mountain.
Disappointments. Unmet expectations. These are monkey wrenches in the wheels of life. Here we are, going along just fine, and wham! – suddenly halted. Stopped in our tracks. What we expected, didn’t happen, and our hopes are dashed. What do you do?
Careful now. How you respond to an inconvenience can either worsen the experience, or make it better. Why not respond with humor?
It sure helped this experience. We may not have had the expected tour, we may not have had the experience we were hoping for, but because my knuckle head kids lightened the situation with goofy puns, what we got instead was a bonding family experience (not to mention some great one-liners that kept us entertained).
Now, we haven’t always handled our disappointments with the same levity, but this experience stands (for us) as one of those great lessons…and memories.
Today, whenever we bring up Hoover Dam, we laugh and agree that it was the best vacation ever. No tour needed. Just Dam fun!
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