Tour guide étiquette.

19 Jun

While in the belly of Federal Hall today, in front of a model of Hamilton Grange, I was rattling off many of Alexander Hamilton’s many hundreds of achievements while simultaneously asking questions, keeping plates spinning, trying to engage bored eighth graders, doing well, making jokes, getting laughs, getting them to realize they know more than they think they do, awarding points for the harder questions, pulling out ten dollar bills, juggling it all, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a stranger. He was not supportive. One is not paranoid when one is correct. 

I made a stupid mistake. I mentioned Hamilton started The Bank of Manhattan. It was a really stupid mistake, because my own brother works for Hamilton’s bank, The Bank of New York, now The Bank of New York-Mellon. I saw the stranger shake his head no, triumphant.

I quickly corrected myself in his mirror, and went on. But the man ruined my game and the plates all came crashing to the floor. I stumbled over a few dull sentences and relinquished my fiery finale to the bathrooms behind us. 

Then this bore, this oaf, lingered. I tried to get away from him, but he cornered me in the bowels of The Bill of Rights. “Do you have a business card?” he asked. I saw right through him. I saw him, in fact, reach for his own. “No, I don’t,” I lied (my bag is literally bursting with two hundred of them I bought last month in a moment of vainglory and had them printed with my picture on them and hugely so and now I’m too embarrassed to give any of them away, even to an asshole). “Well, here’s mine,” he said. “I’m a guide, too, and I give walking tours of this area. By the way, you got a few things wrong like…” and I interrupted him:

“No, you heard a few things wrong because you were looking for mistakes, and you can have your card back because I am a working tour guide currently showing forty-five students around ‘your area’ and as far as I can see, you are empty-handed except for this card I’m handing back to you. Here. Take it. (It fell to the marble floor.) And if I EVER had the gall to listen to a colleague while he or she was working instead of minding my own goddam business, I CERTAINLY wouldn’t go up to him or her and mention the one or two things I knew but they didn’t. So fuck off, sir.”

And I believe those were Burr’s last words to Hamilton as well.


7 Responses to “Tour guide étiquette.”

  1. MaryRivesBrown June 19, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Delicious! More, please Sir!

    • NC Coot June 19, 2013 at 11:38 pm #

      More? MORE? 🙂

      • MaryRivesBrown June 19, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

        More writing, please Sir! This is tooooo good!

  2. Patricia June 19, 2013 at 10:55 pm #

    You got that guy good.  What a creep!  Mom


    • NC Coot June 19, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

      Thanks, Mom. It’s brave of you to claim such a misanthrope for a son.

  3. Hardy June 20, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    Of course for accuracy we can be replaced by recordings. All we’d all loose is wit, improvisation, interaction and eye-contact.

    Funny he didn’t notice all that you got right. I guess he resented that he wasn’t lucky enough to be part of your eighth grade group.

    • NC Coot June 20, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

      This is a kind note from someone who knows more about NYC than anyone I’ve ever met.

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