‘Old guy’ can still run with the kids

Russ Hagerman

Russ Hagerman

Russ Hagerman

Road trips afford participants the opportunity to fellowship. Whether short or long, the destination really isn’t the end to a means. The trip itself is the means to an end.

Everything and anything can, and to some extent does, happen during the trip. A trip across the pond (a sailor’s expression for an ocean trip) just magnifies the emotional state of the traveler.

I found my theories on travel to be poignantly true on a recent trip to Paris. I did, however, find an exception to one thing. Traveling with several age groups and positions from Missouri Southern was opposite from how I imagined the trip to be. Generational gaps tend to draw tension and grade-school awkwardness to those involved. Not so on this trip.

The traditional-aged students I traveled with proved to be more mature and stable in their attitudes than I dared to hope for. Of course, there was the one or two who proved the medical finding that the frontal lobes of the young aren’t developed fully. That is another story for another time.

Five traditional-age students in particular welcomed me as an equal into their fold for the duration of the trip. Now that could have been due to the faculty making it mandatory that everyone accepts everyone. However, I can safely say it wasn’t the case.

Europe was a place I visited 25 years ago. I was looking forward to some of the aspects of the trip. My attitude and thoughts were transformed back to my youth, my glory days in the Navy. I was 20 years old again, even if for a little while.

Then the reality of physical age set in, my knees gave out, so back to the hotel for an ice pack.

Yet those young people, instead of making fun of the “old guy” they came by the room and asked how I was doing, then asked me to join them later for a drink or two.

A trip across the pond proved by a group of young people in Paris for a week what the young people on this campus and across the nation are about. In four years here, I have found the generational gap not to be so wide and deep that it was believed to be by so many.

As the younger generation may or may not realize, they have been narrowing the gap and making the chasm not so deep.

Over the years, the next generation to lead society has changed the views of some from my generation.

With my thanks to five special young people, I was 20 years old again.