When I was younger, I thought that Tour Guides must have the best job in the world. They get to meet new people all the time. They get to chat all the time. And of course, they get to travel all the time as well. It seemed like the perfect solution to all my life’s challenges as far as finding THE PERFECT job. Until I worked as one!
I had my first taste as a volunteer onboard the HMS Bark Endeavour replica when it docked in Cape Town harbour a very long time ago. Although mind you, it was the replica, so not as long ago as the original. I am not THAT old! I really enjoyed learning about the ship. Its history and also becoming expert in the section I was allocated as part of my duties. I learnt all kinds of interesting factoids about the cat o’ nine tails and also why the toilet on a ship is called The Head. All quite fascinating and made me feel very interesting and all-knowing as I took scores of tourists through my section.
Fast forward a few years and feeling encumbered by my then “corporate” job I longed to revisit the world of Tour Guiding. An opportunity presented itself whereby I quit my job and went to work for a big UK-based travel company. This involved going to a teeny tiny place in the UK called Folkestone. Never would have visited there ever. So, already this Tour Guiding thing was paying huge dividends. I spent an amazing week getting trained with other Tour Reps from across Europe. I met people from Croatia, Spain and England. All there for the same reason I was. Travel. I aced my impromptu guiding skills and was able to swot up a storm on local history in order to sound expert enough to would be travellers. I was sorted.
Landing back in SA, I was ready to play Tour Guide in my home country as a starting point. From your local country you could get placed anywhere in the world. I didn’t last two weeks! Moaning travellers. Lost baggage. Lost passports. Grown people getting blind drunk and falling down causing injuries and harm to themselves and others in the process. Managing insurance risk. Playing mediator to people who had a falling out over breakfast seating. Dinner plates not being heated to the appropriate temperature. Getting up before the sparrow farted and being at the airport to welcome guests with your best smile did not work out that well for a notorious non-morning person. I quit before I made it to two weeks and went back to the sanity of my corporate job.
I had new found respect for those Tour Guides and Hosts who smile very pleasantly when people are making the most ridiculous of demands while on tour. As for travel. Well, I would still love to be able to travel at the drop of a hat. But with Rand and leave time constraints of my corporate job, I will happily travel, unencumbered by tour guests, as and when I can.