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Line of Succession

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

For the past three months I have been getting a taste of what retirement might look like.   And let me tell you,  I don’t like it much!   For years now,  I have brushed off questions about retirement with a trite “I wouldn’t know what to do with myself”,  and quickly changed the subject.

But late last year my son and I began serious discussions about a succession plan that included him gradually taking over the business,  leaving me the many parts of the job that I like  (and am good at)  while turning over to him responsibility for day-to-day management and all the things I really suck at  (namely sales and all things technical).   This would allow me to remain active with an income,  and maintain ties to the travel industry which I love so much.

On paper,  it worked so well!   We were both excited about the prospects,  making plans,  bouncing ideas off each other,  and building new itineraries.   Within three weeks,  Murray sold a group tour to an alumni association.   He also designed and launched a brand-new Shebby Lee Tours website while I focused on refreshing the travel blog and our two history websites.

Then came a world-wide pandemic which has a mind of its own  –  not only smashing my plans for the future,  but to add insult to injury,  attacking my body as well.   Since I was not deemed sick enough  –  or maybe not important enough  –  to be tested, the doctor told me it was “probably” pneumonia, patted me on the head and sent me home.   I stayed in quarantine for a full five weeks,  with only my two cats for company.

While I think the whole  “we are all in the same boat”  mantra has been deservedly debunked by now,  it is still true that we are all in the same storm.   I am not so naive as to believe that we are the only family or company that has been negatively impacted.   But you have to admit,  the timing really sucks.

OK.   So nobody promised me a rose garden.

There is a phrase going around social media to the effect that the world is on pause.   I couldn’t have said it better myself.   I have to admit that my son is doing far better than I am.   First of all he is less jaded than I am,  with my forty-two years in the business  –  including 9/11 and its repercussions.   He is much younger of course  –  which helps  –  but he too lived through all the ups and downs of the early years of my business  (he was five when I started it and now he is  –  well,  never mind.)   Most importantly,  he still has a job,  while I just watched the entire 2020 touring season from the middle of March evaporate before my eyes.

Cancelling tours is absolutely my least favorite part of the business.   The fact that I am powerless to prevent it doesn’t mitigate the fact that I am disappointing a great number of people who are personally invested in each tour.   Travelers have been eagerly looking forward to the adventure ahead.   Suppliers like hotels,  motorcoaches,  restaurants,  and attractions have also been planning for your arrival so they can help make your travel experience the best it can be.   Cancellations take not only the tour itself away but all that anticipation as well.   And being unable to predict when we will all be able to travel freely again is a real BUMMER!!

Yet,  “she persists”.   We are continuing to monitor the path of the virus,  new developments in the ongoing search for a vaccine, and are announcing new and re-scheduled tours as they become ready.   We are also beefing up the newsletter content and continuing to bring you Trail Talks containing uplifting words of encouragement in the midst of a world-wide pandemic,  on the assumption that people need uplifting words of encouragement in the midst of a world-wide pandemic!

Let me know how I’m doing.



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