2012-01-22 - 8:02 p.m.
Tourism comes in all forms - now I've moved up from busloads of the miscellaneous types to private SUV tours. I didn't quite quit the bus company, so for this summer, trying to make two employers happy, I worked basically seven days a week.
There's quite a difference for anyone contemplating tourism/tourguiding in choosing the price level at which customers are charged. Just as working in a middle-ranged restaurant would be different than in a fancy one, so it is with buses vs. private SUV's.
With a busload of people there's a certain greater feeling of freedom, with breaks away from the people, to run to the bathroom, grab a bite to eat, make calls, or read a paper. No one is particularly insulted to see that a driver/guide is making his/her own calls or reading something. In fact, they tend to apologize for interrupting you, nice!
When you choose to do private tours, however, life gets more complicated. Now it's full-blast attention that the tourist(s) have paid for, and that makes it hard to get away from them EVER. The folks usually have more money, and the confidence that goes with it. They are not necessarily more arrogant, but it tends to run in that direction; one feels more like a servant, an old-fashioned chauffeur, rather than captain of a ship as one does on a bus.
The US tourist market is getting a lot of foreigners now, from Europe in the summer with the weak dollar, and now the Asians and South Americans. When you start dealing with non-Western cultures, the rules get trickier, especially since I'm a woman and that, my friends, is second-class in many places around the globe. Of course they accept me when I arrive at their hotel, but one can sense that they find it an odd job for a woman, and perhaps not altogether suitable for them either.
Luckily, I'm not so young and look more BOSSY!
Personal questions come more often because of the intensity of the small space. These you've got to make up answers to - if you just avoid them, they know that you're "hiding something". Give them point-blank, absolutely routine responses so that they can pigeonhole you quickly in their minds. Note that I didn't say you have to tell the truth about anything, just make your answers snappy and consistent. If they want a married person with kids, provide them with that. Be sure to discuss the wife or husband a little (how busy that partner is!) The kids can be full-grown at college. Asians and South Americans love to hear that you're "normal".
Tips? That varies so much, it's impossible to say.
More next time!
BTW, a new mayor for San Francisco, Ed Lee!
Is Mr. Lee an improvement? He's just begun; he plays Mr. Mild-Mannered Chinese-American.
Man who have shady business cannot have sunny life!