Trustworthy tour guides
February 1, 2007
We are responding to James Damon’s Dec. 8 column, “Misguided tours.” Damon described an interviewee in the tour guide selection process whom he felt epitomized everything he hated about high school. Not until we were discussing the column at a party did we realize that he had compacted us into a composite character who looked like Dawson, talked like Alex and came from the Midwest (although we are from Pennsylvania and Delaware).
p. Damon claimed that this student scammed the Admissions Department with lots of fake, flashy smiles and grotesque charm. He also was angry when this character was chosen as a tour guide over him. To begin, neither one of us was called back for a tour guide position. We were disappointed at the decision (though not to the point of having “a large metal clipboard [driven] straight into” our hearts), but we did not immediately write an acidic and slanderous column for The Flat Hat. In fact, both of us plan on trying out again next year and figure that, if we truly want the tour guide position, we should not bash the very institution we want to represent.
p. Damon began by describing the character’s physical appearance. He instantly classified the character as a “darn theatre kid,” based entirely on the fact that Dawson was wearing a Wicked T-shirt. He also seemed disgusted by Dawson’s enthusiasm about the College, misinterpreting his bubbling sincerity as a façade “to impress others.” Therefore, it seems that before he even spoke, Damon had judged him.
p. He then moved on to a description of some questions Alex answered. Since it was November, we had only been at the College for a few months, so we answered each question asked of us with the knowledge and experiences we had — even if that meant revealing we weren’t veteran students. Alex was asked to describe his favorite campus tradition. As there were relatively few traditions in the two and a half months since he was here, he answered using what information he had: that one of the most exciting traditions on campus is the Yule Log Ceremony (which, of course, had not yet taken place). Damon complained that student was “lying through his teeth” when, in reality, he was just answering the question with the inherent enthusiasm that comes from a typical student at the College. (Now, having attended the Yule Log Ceremony, he can confirm the answer given back at that interview — it is awesome.)
p. Damon also used our composite character as an example of why he hates the tour guide system, insulting the very students who represent the College to visiting families and set it apart from other institutions. Damon claimed that, as a tour guide, he “wouldn’t have sugarcoated a thing,” telling students how the food is awful, freshman year is the worst year of one’s life, and how this is the place where fun goes to die — all of which are, in our opinion, untrue. We would tell the real truth: the food is (usually) decent; freshman year is so far the best of our lives and fun comes here not to die but to thrive on the vibrant and fun-loving personalities of the students.
p. To his credit, Damon is an excellent actor: we apparently made him want “to vomit,” and he “hated [us] for being fake,” (he was sitting next to us).
p. We’d like to end with some advice for the author: loosen up. Come on, it was a tour guide interview. If you can’t handle that kind of light rejection, you need to get out of the competitive world of real life. The College may not be perfect, but for us it comes pretty darn close.
p. __Alex Guillén and Dawson Lindauere are freshmen at the College. Their views do not necessarily represent those of The Flat Hat.__