What I Miss about Being a Tour Guide

Back nearly eight years, I was a tour guide and shop assistant for a couple show caves in Arkansas for the summer break. It’s still one of the jobs that I look back on most fondly, despite my boss disliking me and telling me I’m going to hell for liking Harry Potter. There were so many things I adored, and I’ve been thinking about them loads lately.

• Exploring
So I didn’t actually get to explore the caves beyond the tour paths. But entering the caves for the first time during training was so cool and exciting! I also noticed different things every single time I went in on tours or for maintenance.

• Teaching
I adore sharing information with other. Especially trivia and random knowledge. So leading groups through the caves and telling them the histories and facts was one of my favourite things to do.

• Singing
In one of our caves, there was a part called the “singing balcony” because during the prohibition the cave was used as a speakeasy and moonshine distillery. Technically I was supposed to ask if anyone on the tour wanted to sing—and I did my first seven tours or so, but no one ever wanted to. So I sang. Usually I went for “Nature Boy” by Nat King Cole. I’m not entirely sure why, but I was obsessed with it at the time. And even though I was self-conscious, I loved singing in front of those small groups, and it helped raise my confidence for a while.

• Learning
I learned so stinking much about caves, rock formations, rocks, fossils, and crystals while working there. I absolutely loved it. We even had a few geologists come through on tours while I was there who gave me resources for learning more and taught me a few things on the tours. I received a little bit of new information everyday, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

• Conversing
One of my absolute favourite parts of the job was getting to talk to people from all over the States and even the world. I learned so much about life and other cultures while working there because of discussing various topics with our guests, and it’s probably the thing I miss most about being a tour guide.

• Exercising
Oh my word. So many stairs. One of the caves was horizontal, but still had a fair amount of walking and stairs. However, the other was over 200 feet down a steep hill and then another 110 feet down steep stairs inside the cave. I was making these journeys an average of about seven to ten times a day, five days a week, and my legs and butt were so fit. And I didn’t have to exercise at home at all.

• Turning out the lights
Okay. I admit that this one might be a bit strange. But at the end of each tour, we would ask anyone who was afraid of the dark to head to the entrances of the caves. After that, we told a brief story about someone telling the owner to use “natural” cave lighting instead of the show lights that he chose to use (which were mostly white lights). Then we’d flip the switch. Pitch black swallowed us. Some people gasped. Others murmured about how they were scared to move. And I just stood there at peace with the near silence and absolute darkness. Then I gave our little spiel about how long it might take for someone to go blind or insane in such lighting conditions, turned the lights back on, and led the way out of the caves.

I really enjoyed that job and the travelers I met while working there. I hope I can have another job similar to it one day.

Do you have a job that you look back to in a similar way? What was it? Let me know in the comments!

Published by A Boggus Life

I am an eclectic reader and editor who solves Rubik's cubes, writes, draws and paints, and longs to live in England and France.

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