Author Topic: Guided Tours That Weren't  (Read 3604 times)

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Thipu1

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Guided Tours That Weren't
« on: June 19, 2013, 01:54:25 PM »
The 'At the Art Gallery' thread reminded me of two 'guided' tours that weren't. 

The first was in Washington DC.  We were visiting what was then the Museum of American History.  We were in a section devoted to railroads.  Mr. Thipu has been a railroad aficionado since he learned to say 'Choo-choo' and was giving me a tour of the gallery that went well above and beyond what was written on the labels.  After a few stops,  I noticed that there were more people behind us than there were when we started.  It turned out that, while only intending to explain things to me, Mr. Thipu had attracted his own, informal tour group.

The other 'tour' was at the Trolley Museum in Baltimore.  We were greeted by a genial gentleman who escorted us around and treated us to all sorts of fascinating stories.  Half-way through the tour our 'guide' received a tap on the shoulder and a rather stern, 'Jeff.  You know you're not supposed to do this'.

Jeff was not a member of the museum staff. He was what railroad buffs call a 'Foamer'.  He just loved hanging around rolling stock and talking to anyone who would listen about his enthusiasm. Because Jeff was perhaps a bit short on facts, he was never certified as a docent.  Still, he was entertaining.   


rose red

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2013, 02:05:47 PM »
This isn't on topic, but I do have a (boring) guided tour story.  Hope it's OK to hijack.  Several years ago, my family went on a tour of home country.  Although I can understand my native language, English is more natural and fluent.  The places we went had lots of tour groups and sometimes I sneak close and listen to the English speaking tour guides if they happen to be near our group.

Hmmmm.  Maybe that's what happened for the other thread ;).

Library Dragon

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2013, 02:17:02 PM »
It happens to us in Italy.  We often travel with friends and family and like to share the quirky history of art.  We would also play quiz the kids when we traveled with our sons.  "Okay, point out the symbols of the four evangelists and which is Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John."  The boys would turn into little guides. 

One time we were in the Forum in Rome video taping and they were pointing out bits and lecturing.  A couple of times we tried to let some people go around us but they never would.  When DSs took a break they had a round of applause from the group that had been following us.  They ate it up of course.   

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TylerBelle

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2013, 02:50:13 PM »
The 'At the Art Gallery' thread reminded me of two 'guided' tours that weren't. 

The first was in Washington DC.  We were visiting what was then the Museum of American History.  We were in a section devoted to railroads.  Mr. Thipu has been a railroad aficionado since he learned to say 'Choo-choo' and was giving me a tour of the gallery that went well above and beyond what was written on the labels.  After a few stops,  I noticed that there were more people behind us than there were when we started.  It turned out that, while only intending to explain things to me, Mr. Thipu had attracted his own, informal tour group. 

How awesome! ;D If I were looking around at things of interest and overheard someone speaking with authority on them, I'd probably move in closer, too. With the hope not to intrude of course, but unable to resist the chance to learn.
Always be on the lookout for wonder. --E.B. White

White Dragon

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 03:04:24 PM »
This was kinda sorta the same thing, only it wasn't at a museum.
It was a liquour store.  :P

I don't drink much - in fact fact, for about 10 years I didn't drink at all.
However, it was always around when I was growing up and I read. I read a lot.
So I know lots of random stuff about things I don't have much practical experience on.  ::)

Daughter had just turned legal drinking age and I took her to the local store to show her the layout.
I showed what the dry to sweet ratings on the wine meant, which things were brewed from barley, rye etc.
We went up and down the aisles and I gave her a quick background ("That is very sweet, usually drunk after dinner or mixed with something" or "This goes down smooth but has a late kick. Be careful of it.") sort of thing.

As we went up and down, we kept passing the same shopper, who was travelling the rows in the opposite way of us so we passed in every aisle.

As we were checking out, I told DD a A Cautionary Tale From My Foolish Youth (namely, don't drink Bailey's while standing on your head. It burns the sinuses!)
The other shopper burst out laughing. Turns out she thought I was some kind of expert.  ::) Then she decided I must just drink a lot! ;D ;D

Fritokal

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 03:06:28 PM »
The 'At the Art Gallery' thread reminded me of two 'guided' tours that weren't. 

The first was in Washington DC.  We were visiting what was then the Museum of American History.  We were in a section devoted to railroads.  Mr. Thipu has been a railroad aficionado since he learned to say 'Choo-choo' and was giving me a tour of the gallery that went well above and beyond what was written on the labels.  After a few stops,  I noticed that there were more people behind us than there were when we started.  It turned out that, while only intending to explain things to me, Mr. Thipu had attracted his own, informal tour group.

The other 'tour' was at the Trolley Museum in Baltimore.  We were greeted by a genial gentleman who escorted us around and treated us to all sorts of fascinating stories.  Half-way through the tour our 'guide' received a tap on the shoulder and a rather stern, 'Jeff.  You know you're not supposed to do this'.

Jeff was not a member of the museum staff. He was what railroad buffs call a 'Foamer'.  He just loved hanging around rolling stock and talking to anyone who would listen about his enthusiasm. Because Jeff was perhaps a bit short on facts, he was never certified as a docent.  Still, he was entertaining.   

Oh, how strange. My father's a member of (and super super active with) the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. It's possible  - if the Jeff you mention is actually the guy I think it is - that the issue may not have been his facts, it may have been that there's a few areas that aren't publicly accessible (they're not safe - oil spills, active machine work being done, paint and chemicals - but the car house and the shop have to have some open-air areas for those very reasons, and I don't know how well labeled they are in terms of "no public access") without very very clear warning beforehand to avoid certain areas and without more than one person as the guide.  It also may have been both facts and safety.

The last few times I've been to any railroad or streetcar museums, we've been the ones attracting the 'guided tour that isn't' because my dad's a walking transportation encyclopedia. ;) But he kind of likes the attention...




Kiara

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 03:15:49 PM »
I became one the last time I visited my college.  Our oldest academic building is open for free, and the first floor is set up as it would be in the 1700's.  I went into one of the classrooms, and a mother and two daughters came in behind me.  They started wondering aloud about the building....so I went into docent mode.  (I used to give tours at home in a tavern in the summer to make spending money.)

By the time I was done...about 6 people were listening to me extol the awesomeness of the Wren Building.  :)

NyaChan

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2013, 03:34:24 PM »
This was kinda sorta the same thing, only it wasn't at a museum.
It was a liquour store.  :P

I don't drink much - in fact fact, for about 10 years I didn't drink at all.
However, it was always around when I was growing up and I read. I read a lot.
So I know lots of random stuff about things I don't have much practical experience on.  ::)

Daughter had just turned legal drinking age and I took her to the local store to show her the layout.
I showed what the dry to sweet ratings on the wine meant, which things were brewed from barley, rye etc.
We went up and down the aisles and I gave her a quick background ("That is very sweet, usually drunk after dinner or mixed with something" or "This goes down smooth but has a late kick. Be careful of it.") sort of thing.

As we went up and down, we kept passing the same shopper, who was travelling the rows in the opposite way of us so we passed in every aisle.

As we were checking out, I told DD a A Cautionary Tale From My Foolish Youth (namely, don't drink Bailey's while standing on your head. It burns the sinuses!)
The other shopper burst out laughing. Turns out she thought I was some kind of expert.  ::) Then she decided I must just drink a lot! ;D ;D

That's hilarious lol

Jones

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2013, 04:01:34 PM »
I've recently learned the fresh produce section at my favorite grocery pretty well. At least, I know what I like and what I don't, and some things I buy in quantity and divide up for pre-planned snacks and meals through the week. Things I don't know, I am good at finding what I need on a label or on my phone. As my daughter is usually with me, I explain to her what we are doing and looking for.

A couple Saturdays ago a young woman followed behind me; I didn't notice her at first, but towards the end of the "produce tour" she spoke up. "Are these strawberries in season or hothouse?" I was surprised, but quickly showed her how to check the label for the picking place (it was somewhere in California) and we did a quick discussion on seasonal picking in the US. She seemed very happy with her strawberries and assorted other produce that I noticed in her cart, most of it the same things I had picked up that day. She didn't follow DD and I to the dairy, for which I was relieved as I am a dairy minimalist.

camlan

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2013, 04:13:31 PM »
Well, not at a museum, but at the library.

The university where I was both a grad student and a teaching assistant finally installed a computerized catalog system. While the library itself was fantastic and the library staff wonderful, the "how to use" instruction sheet for the new system was abysmal. And the system had been developed by the university computer department and was not at all user-friendly. There was no obvious place to put your cursor and start typing your keyword, or title or author, for example. And the instruction sheets were laid out in a series of square and rectangle blocks of text, with no clear "Here is how you start" heading anywhere.

After a hour of frustration the first time I tried to use the thing, I had to ask for help. The answers were blindingly simple, but not at all obvious to a new user.

So, when I was teaching Freshman English, I always spent one class a semester in the library, showing the students the various collections within the building and spending a fair amount of time explaining the electronic catalog.

Occasionally, we'd pick up a tag along or two while we were touring the library, but the moment I stopped by a terminal and started explaining the computer system, there'd be a huge crowd. People just wanted to learn how to use the darn thing. As long as my students could get close enough to hear me and see the screen, I didn't care how many people stopped to listen, although the first time it happened, it was very weird.
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Thipu1

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #10 on: June 19, 2013, 07:02:05 PM »
Dear fritokal,

Because we visited the museum at least 15 years ago, I doubt that our 'Jeff' is the 'Jeff' your Dad knows.  Every museum and historical site seems to have a 'Jeff'.  I sometimes think that 'Jeff' may be a requirement for funding from the NEA. 

It's neat to learn about your Dad.  Wouldn't it be nice if he and Mr. Thipu could sit down together over a beer and discuss Mikados?

Thipu1

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2013, 07:16:19 PM »
We had what was almost the guided tour from Hell a few years ago on a shore excursion from a cruise. 

The tour included a visit to an underground German fortress built outside Bergen, Norway during WWII.  The visit was supposed to take an hour.  It was fascinating, up to a point.

Since his usual audience was Norwegian school children, the docent was thrilled to have an group of about 40 adults.  He pulled out all the stops and told us absolutely everything he knew about the place.  His tour lasted three hours and, since it took place in an underground labyrinth,  there was no way to escape.  The fresh air never felt so good as when we finally got out.

However, you could say it was a true WWII experience.
       


Fritokal

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2013, 08:35:35 PM »
Dear fritokal,

Because we visited the museum at least 15 years ago, I doubt that our 'Jeff' is the 'Jeff' your Dad knows.  Every museum and historical site seems to have a 'Jeff'.  I sometimes think that 'Jeff' may be a requirement for funding from the NEA. 

It's neat to learn about your Dad.  Wouldn't it be nice if he and Mr. Thipu could sit down together over a beer and discuss Mikados?

Actually that makes it more likely. My dad's a founding member of the museum. Now I KNOW that 'Jeff' is probably who I think it is. (I have to tell my dad this - Hi dad, I delurked on a webforum because your museum came up! He'll laugh.)

I have known many a Jeff - I'm fairly sure they come with the grant or donation money, along with a few others. Here's your grant from the state for preservation purposes, here's your over-enthusiastic volunteer, here's your Jeff, here's your troublesome membership coordinator...  (but also here's the crew that'll spend 14 weekends in a row tirelessly restoring something you thought was destroyed, here's the families that'll dig an entire XYZ out of muck from a flood, here's the old guy who knows everything under the sun about your area of focus and will donate an entire basement of Stuff to you, and here's the college student who will sort it for free because they love it.)





Thipu1

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2013, 11:23:38 AM »
Amen, Fritokal. 

Jeffs are part of the package.  So are the volunteers who are sorely disappointed  when they find thay can't single-handedly 'whip this place into shape' and the volunteers who will argue with curators to the death they they are right about an object and the curator is wrong. You also get volunteers who come in for an hour a week and want to print the cover letters for their resumes on Museum letterhead. 

  You also get volunteers who are absolute gems.  Life in the not-for-profit world may be frustrating but it's never boring.

Please, Fritokal.  Think about posting more frequently.  You seem like a good fit for E-Hell.   

bopper

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Re: Guided Tours That Weren't
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2013, 12:04:38 PM »
We were in Russia and arranged for a english language  tour of an Russian Art Museum through "Intourist" (I am pretty sure...semi-official travel agency at the time).   The tour guide just read the little signs that were in English and were next to the Paintings to us.   :o