Why you should, or shouldn't, have a tour guide to see historic Phoenix
I love to go see things in Phoenix, especially with friends, but I just hate "tour guides".
Now please don't get me wrong, there are some wonderfully entertaining tour guides. Many of these people combine their knowledge with some wonderful humor. In fact, the most popular tour guides are the ones who are comedians - with witty quips, funny stories, that sort of thing. And I respect them, but I just hate to see them get in my way when I just want to see something. To me, it's like someone stepping in front of the Taj Mahal just when I want to see it.
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To me, tour guides are like the amateur comedians that do the "Dumb-Dumb" classes when you get a speeding ticket. They can help to pass the time, mostly with people who really have no interest in the subject. Yes, we know, we're supposed to not speed. But, officer, I was just keeping up with traffic! And I like comedians, and good public speakers. I've been to the Improv, I love watching stand-up comedy on Netflix. But when I'm interested in seeing, for example, an historic house, I want to see the house, not stand there listening to someone who is doing their best to keep people interested, by being entertaining.
My first experience with this was may years ago, when I finally got a chance to get inside of one of the historic buildings at the Sahuaro Ranch. And once I was in, I was supposed to stand in a group, staring straight ahead, at someone who was talking. When I turned away to look around a bit, he cracked my knuckles in front of the group, insisting that I return to listen to him. I suppose he thought that I was going to steal something? He was very flustered, and I remember saying, "I'm sorry, please continue." In reality I was thinking "I won't make the mistake like this again." I stood there listening to him politely. I remember that it puzzled my girlfriend why I wasn't showing proper manners. You're supposed to stand, look at the tour guide and listen. No wandering off! I understand.
My preference nowadays when going out adventuring is to have someone who will "run blocker" for me. That is, someone with a pleasant personality who will stand there and talk with people who come out and want to talk. I understand that these people are these places are bored, and want to talk. They're often elderly people, who are volunteering. I understand. But I want to see things, so I wander off. I call my friends who block for me "Diplomats" for doing that. I've often heard later that it seemed strange that I just wandered off, as in "What's up with your friend?" Of course, I want to be polite, but I don't go to these places to listen to someone. I go to these places to look at these places. From what I understand, it's unusual, and rude. Because that's what you're supposed to do at these boring places apparently, just stand and talk.
But historic places don't bore me. I don't need jokes, or witty quips, or anything like that. I find these places fascinating on their own. If that's not you, then by all means go on a tour with an excellent and funny tour guide. The best one in Phoenix, by the way, is Marshall Shore. He's hilarious, and also very knowledgable about Phoenix (free plug for Marshall!). As for me, I'll just be wandering off, and I know that he'd understand. And tour guide or not, I highly recommend touring Phoenix. If you're not sure where to go, here's a list, let me know when you've seen everything: http://www.historyadventuring.com/2015/05/phoenix-historic-property-register.html
Image at the top of this post: touring Pueblo Grande in the 1940s, 44th Street and Washington, Phoenix, Arizona.
Posted by Brad Hall