Surreal Tour Guide Spiels
By Elise Lentz.
Ever wonder what it would be like to work on cruise ships? Small cruise ships? For 15 years?
Elise & Tim Lentz have worked on ships big and small as cruise directors, shore excursion managers, tour directors and event managers for more than 15 years. The married globetrotters are based in Florida when they’re not aboard ships, mostly small ones these days, running the small ship division for a US-based tour operator and now for their own new company Global Tour Management. Depending on specific assignment(s), they may be on the high seas for a few weeks to a month or more at a time. Their life has been anything but boring and each day offers a new adventure.
Welcome to the 11th in a series of monthly installments from Elise, sharing their story behind the scenes.
From Baloney to Rome: “Hail Caesar”
I have heard of people in near-death situations having out of body experiences. I would often think how surreal that must be to actually witness yourself from a different plane. And then — it happened to me (fortunately not via near-death).
In my college years I worked as a tour guide in a baloney factory. (And that’s no baloney.) Don’t go there; trust me, over the years I heard all of the bad boloney jokes. For those of you who are not familiar with baloney, it’s beef cured in a smoke house — like a sausage. Tourists would visit this rural area of Pennsylvania and want to tour the factory.
Think about it, people vacation and visit the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory, Jelly Belly Jelly Bean factory, breweries and distilleries, and so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a life altering tour of the iconic SPAM® museum and factory. So why wouldn’t you want to add a tour to a Pennsylvania baloney factory as an itinerary highlight of your family vacation?
My job was to walk them through the manufacturing process from conception to consumption. Some days I would give the same tour 10 or more times and my “shtick” soon became very repetitive. It was like I just pressed play and the words would flow from my mouth without me even having to think. And that is when it happened.
I drifted outside of my body and found myself floating above my little tour group. I was looking down, watching myself deliver my “spiel” and looking around the factory grounds contemplating my life and wondering if I would ever totally rid the smell of smoked meat from my hair. That’s when it occurred to me that I could see my mouth moving, but I wasn’t able to hear what I was saying. I freaked out, because I know I inherited what I call the “no-filter gene.” It is a trait that allows me to spew words from my mouth without my brain running it through a filter first. Not exactly sure of what I was saying to these people, but I noticed that my little tour group was laughing. This is not a big deal, except my pre-recorded delivery didn’t offer anything funny at this point in time of the tour.
I decided to force my mind to get back into my body and that is when I realized what I was saying. I was telling them about my college public speaking assignment I just completed. My lecture topic was to demonstrate how baloney is made and I brought visual aids. I built a display smokehouse out of a big cardboard box complete with miniature baloneys hanging in the house. My little tour group was losing it when I explained my miniature baloneys were tampons wrapped in old panty hose. I stapled the “cord” of my tampon baloneys to the roof of the smoke house so my baloneys were hanging in proper smoking form.
Back to the Ships
While working on a cruise ship, I was with passengers who disembarked the ship after a cruise for a tour of the Colosseum in Rome followed by a stay at a hotel. My “no-filter gene” kicked in once again. Things came out of my mouth before my brain could process what I was doing and here is how it all went down.
I had a group of approximately 30 people, 2 of which were single ladies in their 80’s who were traveling together. For this story, I will call then “Marge “and “Betty.” When we arrived at the Colosseum, “Marge” and “Betty” both decided to leave their personal items on the motor coach. Prior to entering the venue, the group stopped at the designated meeting location and all were informed of the time to reconvene in case anyone got separated. When the group finished the tour at the exit of the Colosseum, I noticed “Betty” was missing. I asked her friend “Marge” when she last saw “Betty,” but she couldn’t remember. We exited the venue and went to our meeting location and “Betty” was still M.I.A.
Our company’s policy states if you aren’t at the designated meeting location on time, we assume you left the group and you were on your own to rejoin the group at the next location. Considering “Betty” was alone and in her 80’s, it could have been possible that she was injured or had a medical situation and her wallet and all forms of identification were left on the motor coach. Being concerned for her well-being, I left my group with the local guide and I went back to the Colosseum to find her.
In my broken Italian, I explained to a security guard that I was missing an older lady and needed help finding her. The security guard allowed me back into the Colosseum, took me by the hand, and walked me through the Colosseum. He guided me into a side access door which led into a small room. The room was furnished spartanly (no pun intended) and only contained an old desk and a metal file cabinet with a microphone sitting on top. The man handed me the microphone and gestured that I speak into it.
So I made a quick announcement: “Betty, Betty traveling with Elise’s Group please meet me at the exit” and I repeated it. I thanked the man and proceeded to go to the exit to wait.
I waited for 10 minutes and then I decided to call the hotel to see if by chance “Betty” was there. As I was on the phone with the front desk, they advised she had just walked in. Relieved, I took a taxi back to the hotel and met with “Betty.” She told me that she did not have her watch set properly and thought she was late for the meeting time and assumed we all left. She knew she did not have her wallet with her, but sweet-talked a taxi driver to take her to the hotel. When she arrived at the hotel, she sweet-talked the doorman to pay the taxi driver and assured him she would repay him when her purse was returned. All was good — “Betty” was safe and happy and reunited with her purse and the group.
Later that day, I shared this story with my husband Tim. He stared at me in disbelief and said: “Wait a minute. Are you telling me you actually made an announcement in the Roman Colosseum?” That is when it hit me exactly what I did. There, in this iconic Roman venue, where 42 emperors announced the fate of gladiators, my voice and my name echoed through the arena as I searched for Betty.
I sat there with Tim with my mouth agape and then he added: “I hope you finished it off with ‘Hail Caesar’!”
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Hitting the Road (Part 1)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — The Voyage Begins (Part 2)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Sleeping Around (Part 3)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Shook Me All Night Long (Part 4)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Say Cheese (Part 5)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Good Cruises Gone Bad (Part 6)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Whatever the Client Wants (Part 7)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Crazy Cruise Charters (Part 8)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Yoko Ono Encounter (Part 9)
Read Elise & Tim Behind the Scenes at Sea — Losing a Friend at Sea (Part 10)
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