An Elephant in the Room

Posted on May 17, 2016 under Storytelling with no comments yet

Elephant Trainer

A herd of elephants lives under the College Street bridge … seriously!


One of the joys of global travel is anonymity.  In far flung places, nobody knows who you are, or cares, for that matter.  You can dress outlandishly if you so desire and even develop a different persona if you so choose.

Mary June had always wanted to travel to Australia to do some hiking.  She was the adventurous sort who loved the outdoors.  So when her daughter did a one year student exchange “down under” as part of attaining her law degree, there was an added incentive to go.  Since it was off-season at the small inn she managed, she had the luxury of determining when she would take the trip.   

Mary June was an independent sort and was of an age that bus tours were to be avoided. Those were for old folks who might have mobility issues, or who didn’t want the hassle of driving.  However, in order to visit the world renowned Blue Mountains featuring “The Three Sisters”, an economy bus tour seemed to be the only option.

Mary June was also known as someone who was a bit of a prankster.

She and her daughter boarded the bus and were greeted by the jovial driver, Smokey, who was also the commentator and the hiking guide.  They took their seats, half of which appeared to be occupied by students.  As they made their way to their destination, Smokey educated and entertained his passengers.  As is often the case on a bus tour, the participants were asked their country of origin.  As one might expect, it was an eclectic group and they came from all over the world.  Oddly enough, there was only one other North American couple, hailing from Utah.

The tour guide also asked each person what they did for a living.  Although not a terribly shy person, Mary June wasn’t much for speaking in front of a crowd, even this modest assembly.  Row by row, every person stood up in turn and dutifully recited country of origin and occupation.  Mary June was the very last person to go public.

Saying that she worked in tourism and hospitality sounded rather ordinary.  So, when she rose, she stated that she was from Nova Scotia, Canada and that her occupation was elephant trainer.  Her daughter’s head whipped around and there was a look of resignation on her face.  Clearly her mom was up to no good.

The bus reached its destination and the hiking commenced.  By all accounts it was a wonderful day.  As the entire group hiked together, there were occasions to strike up a conversation with the other travellers.  A number of people asked her about her life as a large animal trainer, and however did she discover this talent.  “I just fell into it,” she said.  “A former boyfriend worked with the circus and I followed him around.  One day the elephant trainer didn’t show up for work and, just like that, I found myself working with elephants.”

Needless to say, her fellow travellers were quite fascinated. The embellishment (deception!)  continued, as Mary June went on to say that she had become a specialist.  Her job was to cajole the elephants into standing on their hind legs.  Someone else worked with the pachyderms’ trunks.  The group was getting quite an education.

No one thought to ask about state of the elephant population and prevalence of ivory poaching in sub-Saharan Nova Scotia.

Several months later, while tending the inn on a stormy winter’s night, she was chatting with three guests from Australia.  Mary June told them about her escapades, including the elephant tale.  One of the guests wasn’t paying attention and caught up with the story at the midway point.  She stared out at the worsening weather and wondered where the elephants were spending the night.

A few days later, the following appeared on Trip Advisor: “Awesome waffles with local blueberries for breakfast and GOOD coffee.  Just don’t fall for Mary June’s elephant trainer story … as I did!”

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