You can imagine how much fun it would be to work as a tour guide. You get to spend your whole day talking to people about your passions, welcoming them into whole new worlds, broadening their horizons.
Of course, as a bonus, you’ll also end up with plenty of ‘dumb tourist’ stories.
These tour guides and others who work with travelers recently took to the internet to share their dumbest tourist encounters. It turns out there is such a thing as a dumb question.
40. Have Them Removed
39. Sign Me Up
38. Make It Yourself!
37. Space Cases
36. Let’s Hope They Don’t Strike
35. North Is Not Up
34. Level Up
33. Show Some Respect
32. Survivor Man
31. And To Your Left…
I used to be a tour guide in Rome.
Many people seem to go on a tour because they are told they should.
But what’s the point if you’re not really going to listen or give a care about it? Or even try and rush the guide to get finished sooner?
It’s worse when it affects other group members. If they’re actually interested in the tour, and listening, asking questions, etc., then it’s incredibly rude for others to be talking amongst themselves, or holding the group back by taking 10 photos of the same pose in the same place.
Asking a question about something when I’ve just finished talking about it is also annoying and time wasting and shows that you weren’t listening to a word I said. Unless, of course, you did listen but would like clarity or a bit more depth — then it’s fine.
But stupid questions aren’t annoying. In fact they can be hilarious.
I still remember someone in the Roman Forum asking me why they built it so close to the modern main street. Another chap asked, in the Colosseum, “Is this where Jesus fought the lions”? I must have missed that day of Sunday School.
30. All For A Selfie
29. Whatever Gets You Money
28. How Do You Think Earth Works?
27. Koalas Are Fake News
26. They’re Coming To Steal The Telescopes
I work in this small castle that was used as protection for the Port of Cork against pirates about 400 years ago, but also doubles as an astronomy centre.
We have an ocular telescope on the roof that is not in use anymore because we have a radio one now. It never ceases to amaze me how many people ask if they can use it to stargaze… in broad daylight.
As well as that, I’ve had people ask me if the pirates that used to attack Cork are still doing so, and if we have to defend against them at our tiny antiquated castle which was fit for purpose in 1582.
Strangely enough, I’ve observed that most of this comes from visitors from the North American continent.
25. Jurassic Park Wasn’t A Documentary?
24. Education Is Really Important
23. You’re Thinking Of The Amish
I used to work at Colonial Williamsburg. I basically dressed up in big, heavy costumes and either manned a gift shop or did demonstrations on how they did stuff back then.
A lady asked me once if the employees in authentic dress lived there like that all the time and if we had TV and computers and whatnot.
22. I Quit!
21. Live By The Sword
20. Opining On Pine
19. Come On, Man
Most of my family members who fought in the Civil war died at the Battle of Shiloh. They are buried in a mass grave and every year at the anniversary, we will all go down to Shiloh and have a small gathering and participate in the festivities.
On the 150th anniversary, there was a huge crowd and a tour bus from Nashville brought some foreign tourists. Since we were also volunteers, we took a couple of groups around a showed them the sights. We took them over to the mass grave where the Confederate dead were buried.
One guy, who Irish, stepped over the stones that marked one of the mass graves. We told him to step out of the stones, but he remarked that they lost and died for slavery. Two big dudes who were with us grabbed him and threw him out of the grave markers.
I don’t care if they lost, have some respect for the dead.
18. No Sense Of Time
17. Buildings Are Fake
16. Way To Show Respect
15. Leave The Towers Out Of This
14. I Love Elephants Too, But Come On!
13. A Civil Chat
12. Lake Vs. Ocean
11. Why Would You Ever…?
10. How Big Are Yours, Ma’am?
9. Let Me Ask The Dictionary
8. This Isn’t A Dog Show
7. Things Not To Say In Ireland
I’m a full-time tour guide in Ireland. If I had a Euro for every time I’ve explained the “don’t go to a bar and ask for a car bomb, you’re being rude” thing to Americans, I’d be a millionaire.
As for other stories… There’s the Japanese group that wandered into Belfast looking to go drinking with the IRA. Then there’s the baby-boomer woman in Dublin who tried to pay me in Pounds Sterling, telling me that “Ireland is basically in England so you have to accept it”. Oh, my favourite was the little old Italian lady who asked me to buy her pot.
I spent ten minutes laughing and explained there was no way that was happening.
6. Dragon Conservation Is So Important
I was working in a room in a fairly well known attraction in the UK, when an American family walked in. Now, it was a pretty long tour through the building and the kid was getting a bit bored and restless, so I started taking to him and pointed out the cool picture of St George and the Dragon on the wall.
I asked him if he knew the story, and he did not. Neither did his mother — maybe it’s not that common over the other side of the pond, I thought.
So, I was happy to be the first to tell this kid the classic story of George and the Dragon, and he was suitably entertained.
The mother then asks if it really happened, to which I assume she means if the story was based on any historical event.
I go off on a quick outline of the historical St George, and how he had really nothing to do with England and that dragon slaying myths pops up everywhere in Europe, so it’s unlikely to be based on anything in English history.
The poor woman looks confused and asks, “But they must have had some battles like that at some stage before they were all hunted, right”?
“Madam, dragons don’t exist”.
Not a sentence I thought I’d have to ever say while working there.