BFFs and Bus Travel - Starr Tours & Charters
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To tell how I came to work at Starr, I have to go back to July 1981 and the beginning of my 36 year friendship with fellow Starr Tour Director, Jane Peters Estes. Jane and I met at Hightstown High School (as employees, not students!). We both were new employees in the principal’s office so we spent that first summer getting to know each other as well as the school.

I had never worked in a school before and came in from private industry with a business background. Jane, on the other hand, had spent years in the elementary school system so she had a more colorful background. While my time had been spent dressing up for business, Jane’s time had been spent in costumes ranging from Santa’s helper to the Valentine Princess. All that changed my first year, and every year after that, as I traded in my business clothes and we collaborated for every holiday to add fun to our office. One Halloween we created bars on the windows between the office and the hallway and dressed in prison stripes. Another year, we painted flames on the windows and dressed up as little devils. During the winter, our decor included a working fireplace with a mantle with ice skates and skis next to it and winter scenes on posters on the walls. Snowflakes hung from the ceiling. Our first Valentine’s Day was an explosion of hearts all over the office walls and hanging from the ceiling.

We worked together for 6 years until Jane took another position in the school district, but we remained close friends. She is the Abbott to my Costello, the George Burns to my Gracie Allen, the… well, you get the idea. She’s taught me and opened my eyes to a lot over the years.

Jane began as a Starr Tour Director in 1992 and she took to escorting bus trips quite naturally. While I thought it sounded like a cool job, I had other things going on in my life and didn’t give it a second thought. A few years later, Jane asked if I’d like to go on a Starr day trip with her to Gettysburg. We always had a good time together so I decided, why not? It was a fun trip with a small problem to solve and happy passengers to interact with. I watched how she handled everything and started to think that I’d like to do it, too. My kids were grown and I had more time on my hands…

I finally got an opportunity to join Starr’s team of Tour Directors in September of 2004. Jane contacted me to say that Starr was hiring and asked if I was interested. I said yes without a second thought. At the time it worked well with my schedule and when I retired a few years later it worked even better. I trained under Eileen Markey, a delightful lady, and of course Jane helped me a lot too. She still does!

Since then, I have had the opportunity to train a few new Tour Directors myself, including Gene Gray, and have built many more friendships along the way. All of the Starr Tour Directors and Drivers have been wonderful to know and work with and the passengers have been pretty great, too! Starting your day before the sun has come up isn’t always easy, but the rest of the day is always uphill from there. It’s been fun learning about new places and expanding my stand up comedy routine. The only time I’ve taken my comedy on the road has been in a Starr coach, and although I have a captive audience, I realize that the driver really has the last word. I just keep an eye out to make sure he hasn’t opened the door and gotten the hook out… that’s a joke!! I’ve enjoyed meeting new people all the time and by the end of the trips I’ve gotten hugs and even applause on occasion, which I humbly accept!

In my first years at Starr I got to do a few Maine bus trips as well as a bus trip to Savannah and Charleston. They were both especially enjoyable because of the scenery as well as the people I met. As a Tour Director for Starr, I get to travel at a discount (it’s a perk!). So I traveled to Canyon Country as a tour guest last year. It was a wonderful trip and I got to know our passengers – as one of them! But out of all of the trips I’ve taken with Starr, Long Island remains my favorite – as I mentioned in my previous blog post! It’s not a long drive, and it’s a walk down memory lane for me, having grown up on the island. I guess there really is no place like home!

I have loved working as a Tour Director at Starr for the past 13 years (even when I have to get up at 4AM for a trip!) and hope to continue working and traveling for many more years to come. And I think I’m very lucky to be able to continue to share experiences with my BFF.

Hope to see you on a tour soon,
Bette Barr
Starr Tour Director

 

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