Misguided tours

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November 30, 2006

1:58 AM

They rejected me. I auditioned to join the ranks of the College’s tour guide elite and was flatly rejected after the first interview. To call my response to this rejection distraught would be an understatement. It felt like someone had driven a large metal clipboard straight into my heart. But I’ve started to get over my denial. In fact, I’m beginning to realize what a bunch of rotten lying liars the people we call tour guides really are.

p. My own realization of my imminent rejection occurred halfway through the interview.

p. “How would you describe religion on campus?” my interviewer asked. I stood in Blow Memorial Hall dumbfounded, while my fellow interviewees sat politely in front of me. Several rows of chairs back, a panel of veteran tour guides sat silently judging me. I rocked back and forth nervously. What else was I, a self-identified atheist, to do? I don’t believe in God, let alone pay attention to the practices of those who do.

p. “Well, I’d say that our campus is pretty open. We hold lots of religious services for all different kinds of things.” I paused. “There are also van services to take you to service types.”

p. What was I saying? Could I have sounded any more like a moron? My dreams were crushed.

p. But I did have some very lofty ideas for myself as a tour guide. Walking around campus, I’ve noticed plenty of guides in action, each of them addressing their groups as though talking to a mob of eager infants. “This is the library. It was recently renovated and it’s a really great place to get work done or meet up with some friends to study. Isn’t that interesting?” No, it’s not interesting. If anything, it’s the same absent-minded drivel that boring tour guides around this country say to prospective students on a daily basis. I would’ve been different.

p. Each and every person on my tours would have been addressed honestly; I wouldn’t have sugarcoated a thing. “Yeah, the food here’s not too great but, you know, it’s college. What do you expect?” I would have cracked jokes about how hard the College can be. “Some people call it ‘the place where fun dies’ and, you know, they’re often right.” I would have also made sure never to mention the fact that Jon Stewart went to school here. I mean honestly, he’s not that funny. And besides, he didn’t even like attending the College. Prospective students would have loved me for keeping it real, fathers would have found my brutal honesty refreshing and moms would have adored my charming good looks and working knowledge of every film featuring underrated alum Glenn Close — “Dangerous Liasons” anyone?

p. The truth of the matter remains, however, that I didn’t get the position. In fact, the powers that be chose not to call me back for the second round of auditions. Sure, I’d responded to the question asked with the insight and intellect of a 12 year old, but at least I was honest, right? The students who did get called back lied through their teeth. “What’s your favorite tradition on William and Mary’s campus?” the panel asked the group. “Well I’ve only been here for a semester, but gosh I’m just so excited about the Yule Log ceremony,” one of my fellow interviewees responded. “All my upperclassman friends tell me how much fun it is.” He was from the Midwest and wore a T-shirt from the Broadway musical “Wicked.” He smiled broadly, showing off every inch of his bright white teeth, and instantly reminded me of everything I hated about high school. Those darn theatre kids, those stinking performers, those people who did and said things only to impress others. I wanted to vomit.

p. What parent or prospective student would want to be led around campus by some doofus who obviously didn’t mean a single word he uttered so enthusiastically? I’ll bet he has an iPod full of showtunes and a closet full of t-shirts from Broadway musicals. But as much as I hated him for being fake, part of me wanted to believe that the things he said were true.

p. I told my friend Emily about my desire to write about my tour guide rejection the other day. “Well, I’m glad you’re writing about tour guides,” Emily said. “I think a lot of them are douchebags.” The bitter, rejected person in me reveled in her harsh language. Tour guides specialize in telling half-truths — they paint the College to be a perfect, ideal place when, in all truth, it’s not. School is hard, not only intellectually, but also emotionally. My freshman year was the most difficult year of my life. None of my tour guides ever told me this, but I don’t think I would have wanted them to. I desired, and still want to attend, the fictional place that their actions and stories motion to. A place where friends are plentiful, class is always intellectually stimulating and fun can always be had.

p. __James Damon is a sophomore at the College. His views do not necessarily represent those of The Flat Hat.__

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