The bethren of the American River... the outfitters stick close together. No matter what back-stabbing crap goes on in the business end of this industry, or the crazy misdirects on the internet or the reality-show-type alliances, we support each other on the water.
I got the call in the office about an hour before our 3 boats were about to take-off from Camp Lotus. The crew was starting the 2nd day of a 2 day weekend trip and had just finished breakfast with a great group of people celebrating a 40th birthday party rafting trip on the South Fork American River. The crew was just bidding farewell to our field manager as he was taking off on his motorcyle after making a delivery of food, when that call came in. The call was immediately noted as the desparation of the voice sunk in. The other rafting company, we'll call them "Brand X", had somehow lost a reservation in their system. It doesn't matter how it happened; with today's technology, it could have been something as simple as a typo. The voice sounded so upset and so desparate. Don't worry, I said, we will take care of these people. I hung up and realized that we had just took on this other rafting company's predicament. Hmmm... maybe I spoke too soon!
I called Steve, got a hold of him even though he had his motorcycle helmet on; he heard his cell ring. I said, "Turn around, "Brand X" company lost a reservation and W.E.T.'s going to help them out. He turned around, grabbed a non-working guide and got another boat out of the warehouse. Then we had to go pick up these people who were meeting at the other rafting company's location. Enroute, our wetsuit dude, put together another 4 suits for these added people. Meanwhile, the food buyer added some more foodstuff to the existing lunch for the added paddlers. All was smooth except for one giant missing ingredient. The bus driver!
Now, we had to rearrange the shuttle because those extra four people from "Brand X" exceeded the spaces for the van. Call Tim for bus shuttle. No answer. Call his cell. No answer. Arrrgghhhh! Okey, drive back to Sac, get the other vehicle and drive back up the hill... at $3.10 per gallon! Ack!
As I slapped my forehead in frustration, I wondered out loud: why did I say yes? Why didn't I just let the other outfitter deal with their own problem? Why? Because, we all love river rafting, and we all want to see the clientele, our enthusiastic paddlers have a great time. No, it did not matter, at that moment, that these weren't our customers. It didn't matter that "Brand X" was one of our competitors. It didn't even matter the extra costs to our company or even the aggravation of our own customers (we had to make them wait a bit to accommodate the timing). What mattered was getting all these people on the water for the time of their lives... because, you see, the more people have a great time river rafting will be the same people who will talk about it to their loved ones, their family and friends and their collegues. They probably won't even remember who the heck took them down the river! But, they will remember the river. They will remember that awesome first rapid and they will be back... and maybe with us next time or maybe with another outfitter. All that matters is that we've help convert more people to the sport and recreation of rafting. And that's all that matters.