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The Life of the Party: December 30th

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McKenzie, Sue Anderson Nicklin and McKenzie’s mom Michelle.

A week ago, Mom and I lingered near the coat racks and fiddled with our name tags.  We were the last ones in the Italian Civic Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania; before us, were dozens of tables, all filled with Anderson’s employees and their guests. (See more photos here)

Doug Anderson, the president of Anderson Coach and Travel, stood just inside the doorway.  When he caught sight of us, he smiled, and I led Mom over to him.  After a few introductions, he asked, “Have you met Danielle?” and spun to look for her.  Just behind his shoulder, I saw Sue Anderson Nicklin–Doug’s sister and rad VP of Anderson–in a red-sequin cardigan.  She chatted animatedly with a small group.

The first time I met Sue and Doug was on October 7th.  I was in Greenville for my interview, and I found myself in the middle of an impromptu family gathering.  Courtney’s son and husband came in to visit her; Doug and Sue came out to see them, and despite the fact that I had just walked through the door for the first time five minutes before, I didn’t feel as though I was intruding.  They invited me to join in the conversation and laughter.

So when Courtney mentioned that there was going to be a surprise for Doug and Sue at the party–a painting from Prevost (a top-notch motorcoach manufacturer) to commemorate Anderson’s 80th–I was excited for them.  I took the camera to the far side of the room so I could capture the entire stage, and as soon as the painting was unveiled, Sue’s mouth dropped open.  She stepped to the side to get a better look.  “It’s beautiful,” she exclaimed.

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At my orientation, I had the opportunity to meet many of the wonderful people who work from the Greenville office.  This is when I met Steve, the head of the IT department; Janelle, the head of HR and the organizer of the night’s celebration; and Ryan, Sue’s son and the future leader of Anderson Coach and Travel.

“Do you dance?”  I asked Ryan.  “If you get out there, I’ll take your picture.”

“Not since I was younger,” he said with a smile.

I grinned at him and snapped a few pictures of the dance floor.  When I turned back, the

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Let’s dance!

crowd had swallowed him.  I returned to the table where, a few hours before, I’d sat with Kathy from accounting and Steve from IT and discussed Steve’s eight-year-old flip phone and how the government had gotten Steve’s number to tell him to move his car.  That side of the room had cleared out, its occupants either braving the cold to walk to their cars or moving toward the dance floor.

My mom was sitting at the table still, though, and I sat down next to her and put my head on her shoulder.  She touched her cheek to the top of my head, and we sat there, smiling out at the people doing to the Electric Slide on the other side of the room.

Happy 80th, Anderson Coach and Travel.

McKenzie Caldwell View All

I've been writing stories since I was 5. My first book was "Turtle Salad"--I wrote and illustrated it. I was horrified because Sally the Turtle ate a fish.

When I was 8, I wrote to JK Rowling to offer some ideas for the Harry Potter series. Her assistant wrote me back, saying that Rowling only hopes to inspire young readers, not to take their ideas. While I totally understand now, I was pissed then. I vowed to become a better writer than JK Rowling. I've been working toward it ever since.

Now, I'm a 20-year-old sometimes-poet, and I study writing and computer science at the University of Mount Union. I'll be traveling for 80 days in 2017 with Anderson Coach and Travel and writing about my adventures.

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