Unfortunate Timing: Awkward Tour Guide Moments
I was walking backwards today, as usual, cracking jokes and spinning anecdotes to some visiting families when I had a really awkward moment. You might have suspected this if you've ever been on a campus tour, but we tour guides definitely have a practiced shpiel down. I like to think of it as a carefully timed guideline that I improvise off of, but it’s possible to throw me off if something unexpected happens.
Well, I was leading my tour group back onto Middle Path, which is our mile-long gravel walkway that bisects campus, and explaining the campus tradition of not using cell phones while on the path.
"It's a tradition that students really honor," I said. "None of us would ever think of desecrating Middle Path with a loud, obnoxious phone conversation," I said.
Just then, a girl walks past us in the other direction, carrying on a loud, obnoxious phone conversation. There's an embarrassed pause in my tour group. I make a big show of squinting after her.
"Oh, that explains it," I fudge. "She.. uh, I think she's a prospective student I saw in Admissions earlier…"
Before I landed a job as a tour guide in sophomore year, I expected that I would have to brace myself for sticky, probing parental questions. It turns out that no, the most embarrassing tour guide situations I've gotten into have never been from my tour groups and have usually been beyond my control.
On other campus tours, you might have been shown a demo bedroom, an uninhabited model room that is fantasies away from the cluttered and pizza-box littered room that you will eventually own. We don't have those here, and so tour guides often bring groups through freshman dorms and knock on doors until they find someone who's home and is willing to display their room.
I used to do this, until that one morning tour when I knocked on what was clearly a girl's room as per the name on the door, and a shirtless guy answers. We look at each other, confused.
He reacts first. "I'll, uh, call you later, 'kay?" he says to someone out of our view, grabs a shirt and quickly scoots past my poor, shocked collection of parents and kids.
What you should take away from all this is that college life happens, and if tour guides tell you otherwise, they are definitely lying. And one more common misconception: we don’t actually backwards-walk into things as often as you’d expect, either.