Monday, October 5, 2009

The ups and downs of working in the tourist trade

As most of you, my dear regular readers know, I work as a tour guide at St-Joseph's Oratory and love my job very much indeed, but even when you love your job, there are ups and downs to it. Fortunately for me, there are more ups than downs, but downs do still happen. So here's my current list of ups:

I get to meet people from all over the world, Like Australia, Germany, New Zealand, England, Russia, Poland, South Africa, Haiti, China.

I get to tell people an amazing story and see their eyes light up in amazement or fascination or soften with emotion when they are touched by it.

I get to give tours to groups of curious children who ask some of the most hilarious questions and shoot out some of the most amazing theories I have ever heard, but they sometimes also have incredible insight.

I sometimes get to give tours to dignitaries, like last Friday. Being followed around by a security detail is very cool indeed ;o)

I make people happy with what I do, the value of a heartfelt 'thank you' is worth far more to me than all the tips in the world.

And last but most certainly not least, I have made some of the best friends I have ever had here at the Oratory and met my sweetheart here as well and even though most of them no longer work at the Oratory and have moved on to build a carreer in other areas, we still keep in touch and get together and have an amazing time.

Here is my current list of downs:

Sometimes, tour organizers cross the Oratory off the list of stops they are going to make during their trip Montreal. This can happen, we totally understand it. Buses break down, schedules are tight, sometimes your group will not move faster no matter how much you plead with them to do so. Usually organizers call us to tell us they won't come, but sometimes they don't, as one of my groups did not two weeks ago and I was left high and dry, waiting aorund for them until the time they were supposed to have been leaving to Oratory when my boss finally told me I could go home because my shift was over anyway. That was not the first time it happened to me and it certainly won't be the last. The general rule of thumb is that the later a group is booked to come in, the more likely they are to be late getting here or to not show up at all. I have a group coming in at 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, I'll let all know how that turns out :oJ

Most tour organizers are very kind people, but every once in a while we get very difficult ones who, no matter how hard we try, cannot be pleased. They look right down their noses at you, belittle you and try to make you feel insignificant. In such cases I have learned to ignore the organizers and just pay attention to the group. As long as they're happy, that's all that matters :o)

And finally, the Oratory attracts all sorts of wonderful people, but it does attract some rather special cases as well. Sometimes they are harmless homeless people who come up here and try to beg for money until one of our security guards gently sends them on their way, somtimes we get thieves up here who steal from the pilgrims and tourists, although this happens much less frequently than before and sometimes we do end up with people who are desperate for help and unfortunately we also end up with people who are not well at all, like the person who attacked one of our security guards last week. Fortunately he wasn't hurt and the police were able to catch the culprit and incidents like that one are very rare indeed, it's only the second time in seven years that I've seen something like that happen.

So there's a little picture of what my work days are like :o) Some are quiet, some a little less, but thanks to the fact that I work with the public, no two days are ever exactly alike. Variety is, truly, the spice of life :o)

1 comment:

  1. Love to hear about the days things dont go so well and a strong sense of humour is required.