Survival Diary: My Day Without a Phone

This morning, I accidentally left my phone at my boyfriend’s apartment. I realized this after I’d already gotten home, and he had left for the day. By then, it was too late. There was no retrieving it until his return.

This is the true, firsthand account of my day without a cell phone.


It is official: you are gone. I have just come upon this realization, and my devastation is unbearable. We will likely be reunited this evening, but that seems eons from now. iPhone, you are my folly, my support, my stability, my joy, my reason for getting out of bed each morning. I just don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day without you.

But I must proceed onward.

Hour 1 without my iPhone: Though I have no appetite, I managed to throw together a light dish for breakfast. And though, due to my grief, I put less effort into my meal as I normally would, it still came out looking positively exquisite. The eggs were cooked perfectly, two shiny yellow yolks surrounded by a thick white ring. A side of avocado toast, a dash of pepper, and a spritz of Sriracha sauce made my plate an absolute masterpiece. As I prepared to share my chef-d’oeuvre with the rest of the world through a Clarendon-filtered Instagram photo, I remembered that this would be impossible.

Your absence is made known in everything I do. I cannot escape reminders of your disappearance.

Hour 2: iPhone, it was amazing. I got in the shower and managed to erase the memory of your loss from my mind for a blissful ten minutes. Gone were my concerns over being apart from you, replaced with the steady trickle of warm water and soapy steam.

But immediately once I turned the water off, and heard no traces of your sweet sounds – a riveting Spotify playlist, an educational NPR podcast, or the smooth reading of an audiobook, for instance – all of my memories of you came rushing back, and the grief seemed to have doubled. Will I ever make it through the agony?

Hour 2.5: I got ready for my day in silence, missing your custom sounds to distract me from my thoughts. I took up humming briefly, as I thought I may die from the quiet infiltrating the air. But it simply wasn’t the same; the humming merely served as a reminder of my grim reality.

Oh, what melodies would I be playing from your tiny, delicate speakers right now, iPhone?

Hour 3: I managed to make it out of the house; I wasn’t sure if I would be able to today, without your comforting existence in my back pocket. But I had made previous plans with a dear friend, so onward I went. We agreed to meet in front of a local shop, but I suddenly fretted over these arrangements. What would I do if she didn’t arrive on time? What if I were to break down along the journey? What if there was a miscommunication in regards to the meeting destination? What if I get lost?

All of these fears and more fluttered around my head, fears that would normally be assuaged by your reassuring presence. Oh, iPhone, might it be a mistake to journey out into the world without you?

Hour 4: iPhone, good news. I made it to my destination without the slightest hint of an obstacle. Oh now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t miss your melodies, caressing my ears, throughout the expedition. The local radio’s Top 40 hits simply couldn’t compare, but alas, I had to settle.

My dear friend and I also managed to connect without difficulty, but the minute we sat down, my thoughts of you came flooding back. I couldn’t show my latest photos to her. I couldn’t share my location with all of my social media followers. I couldn’t reach out to my other companions when the conversation lulled, or when she momentarily excused herself.

We had a lovely afternoon of catching up, but the void in my heart was still too much to bear.

Hour 5: I must cast aside my humbleness for a moment, to share about the rare cooperation of my hair, and the astounding outfit coordination that I achieved today. Normally, iPhone, I would have used you to communicate these achievements with my friends and followers on every means of social media through a well-angled self-photograph. But just as with my breakfast, everyone will simply have to rely on their imaginations to presume what the image would look like.

My suspicions that you are irreplaceable are constantly confirmed. iPhone, our reunion cannot come soon enough.

Hour 6: I began reading a book. It’s hard to explain what exactly a book is, but it’s something that I used to imbibe in before I met you. Once you came into my life, however, I have never had any reason to pick it up again.

My efforts to read this book failed, however. I quickly became bored with all of the empty words, none of which were accompanied by an image in which I could comment on, or a hashtag in which I could click on to connect with others.

iPhone, forgive me for never realizing before just how much joy and pleasure you provided me throughout each day. I will never take your amusement for granted again.

Hour 6.5: This will be my last entry. I just cannot do it any longer. This time without you, iPhone, has just been much more difficult than I imagined. I have relinquished myself to a corner of the room, unable to find anything else to do with my mind without your limitless screen of possibilities in the palm of my hand.

iPhone, please know how much enjoyment you gave me throughout our years together, and how much simpler you made my life. I apologize for my feeble attitude, but I simply cannot go on any longer.

Hour 7: Is that…? Could it be…? A knock on the door…? Are my ears just hearing what they wish for…? Is this what dying feels like…? Or is that…? Someone at the door…? Here to return you to me…? Let me just…unfurl myself…retreat from the corner…get to the door…open it…and…YES! IT IS YOU! YOU HAVE RETURNED FROM YOUR CONFINEMENT AND INTO MY FINGERTIPS! OH, HOW I HAVE MISSED YOU! I THOUGHT FOR CERTAIN I WOULD NEVER…

16 texts, five Facebook messages, three Snaps, and a voicemail from my roommate?

Ok g2g bye

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Costumes of Halloween Past

Around Christmas, many people enjoy sitting around with their families, fondly reminiscing about joyful Christmas memories.

Similarly, I do the same thing on Halloween. I enjoy sitting around with my family (I mean, by myself), fondly reminiscing about joyful Halloween costumes.

And I thought this year, I would share.


2006: My first college Halloween. My roommate Alyssa and I decided to dress up as rock stars. Because college was teaching us to think outside the box. I, on the right, was Ashlee Simpson (the brunette, post-nose job version, of course). I can’t remember (or tell) who Alyssa was. I also can’t remember why we were posing with a poster of Pirates of the Caribbean.

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2007: I said farewell to my female emo pop star days, and hello to “Dunder Mifflin, this is Pam.” At this point in my life, my obsession with The Office was palpable, so it just seemed obvious to dress up as one of the characters. Especially the one that looked exactly like me.

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2008: This was the year after Juno came out and, like any teenage/early-20’s girl, I was a huge fan. So much that I simply had to figure out how to make it look like my eggo was preggo and walk around like a hormonal, sarcastic 16-year-old. Honest to blog it wasn’t so hard.

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2010: My job at the local Australian steakhouse (Outback) permitted us to dress up on Halloween. While most of the other female servers used this opportunity to show off what they normally had to cover with frumpy uniforms (a few girls even got sent home to change, as I recall) I used this opportunity to show off my love for kid game shows from the ’90s.

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2011: My first and only Halloween living in Australia. Generally, I try to get pretty creative with my Halloween costumes. But as you can see, this year I made an exception. Perhaps I was afraid no one would get my pop culture references. Perhaps I didn’t know what was culturally normal. Perhaps I was just lazy. But for this costume, I found a cheap pair of cat ears and paired them with every piece of black clothing I had brought with me. It appears that everyone else had the same mind set. Better luck next time.

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2012: It’s a-me! (Sorry). My BFF and I wanted to dress up in complementary costumes this year, so naturally we landed on Mario and Peach. What I learned: World of Mirth has great clip-on mustaches, and overalls are great for concealing a flask.

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2014: This was the year of my gloriously broken foot. And since I couldn’t remove the boot from my costume, I decided to let it influence my costume instead. Which is how I ended up as Tiny Tim. Disclosure: I am wearing pants.

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2016: Due to a haircut a few months prior, which came out very mom-esque, I could only think of one way to spend my Halloween last year: in a turtleneck/cardigan combo passing out freshly baked cookies while making sure everyone made it home safely.

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And let’s not forget this year, where I simply couldn’t decide which homemade costume to use.


And now: the opening of the Trick-or-Treat files.

1992: Was I a princess? Was I a ghost? Was I a bride? Did my parents just use Halloween as an excuse to put me in the dressy clothes that I never wore otherwise and would soon outgrow? Whatever I was, I’m sure I was unhappy about not looking as cool as my brother the skeleton, and my other brother the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. Also you can tell I was totally cheating at that game.

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1993: No, not a cow. I was obviously dressed up as Perdita from 101 Dalmatians. And too busy thinking about something else (candy) to notice there was a picture being taken.

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1994: If you really think about it, those Lion King costumes are pretty dumb. The character’s mouth was designed to fit over the wearers head, making it appear that the lion cub is eating the child. But you can tell from my expression that I thought I looked cool as hell. Because frankly, I did.

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1995: If you’re here to make fun of my makeup, you can keep those comments to yourself and move along. I killed it this year with my costume, tiara and all. I don’t remember much about this Halloween, but I do remember staring at myself in the mirror for a long time. I was just so darn shiny.

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“Fall Is”: A Poem by Rachel Marsh

Fall Is…

Fall is natural beautyFall

Fall is red trees.

Fall is bon fires.

Fall is s’mores.

Fall is roasted marshmallows.

Fall is mountains.

Fall is Sunday afternoon football with friends!

Fall is acorns.

Fall is pumpkin patches.

Fall is corn mazes.

Fall is cozy evenings at home.

Fall is trendy boots and flannel.

Fall is chili.

Fall is going to Starbucks with a good book.

Fall is pumpkin lattes.

Fall is sleeping with the windows open.

Fall is camping.

Fall is hiking.

Fall is chattering teeth.

Fall is warm hot chocolate.

Fall is hoodies.

Fall is toasty sweaters!

Fall is romantic chilly walks.

Fall is hot cinnamon apple cider.

Fall is warm socks.

Fall is snuggling.

Fall is crunchy leaves.

Fall is pink cheeks.

Fall is holiday anticipation.

Fall is fireplaces.

Fall is red wine.

Fall is a second glass of red wine.

Fall is screw it, the whole bottle of red wine.

Fall is accidentally passing out on the couch.

Fall is miserable hangovers from all that damn red wine.

Fall is all of the flowers dying.

Fall is mice coming into your house.

Fall is not liking camping, actually.

Fall is so many frickin’ leaves to rake.

Fall is being too old to jump in the pile of leaves.

Fall is burning the crap out of your tongue on hot chocolate.

Fall is not giving a shit about football.

Fall is your coworkers not being able to discuss anything except football.

Fall is one step before winter.

Fall is a great reminder that you’re still single.

Fall is the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Fall is wondering why all of the malls have started decorating for Christmas already.

Fall is trying to get that musty storage smell out of your winter clothes.

Fall is remembering how annoying scarves are around your neck.

Fall is fake holidays that we celebrate anyway, like “Black Friday,” or “Columbus Day.”

Fall is pumpkin spice-sponsored cavities.

Fall is what the hell am I going to be for Halloween this year?

Fall is stupid kids ruining your evening with their trick-or-treating.

Fall is the looming family-infiltrated holidays ahead.

Fall is getting fat from the holiday carbs.

Fall is remembering how much you hate pumpkin beer.

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R.I.P. Toys-R-Us

You may have heard the news. No, they’re not going out of business yet. But if you’ve heard the updates on the news, you know the end of Toys-R-Us will soon be upon us.

Because let’s be honest, if a kids aren’t getting their toys off of Amazon these days, they’re at the most going to go to Walmart or Target. They wouldn’t even recognize Geoffrey (geoffrey-the-giraffe-toysrus-5.42) if he had an armload of iPads shaped like fidget spinners.

But back in my day, Amazon was a river I misspelled on my geography tests and the idea of getting a toy from Walmart was beneath me. Toys-R-Us was a dream destination, and to say that I have extremely fond memories of it is a drastic understatement.

For example, I absolutely must start with the tale of the amazing

Child-Sized Battery-Powered Cars

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re either in your late 40’s, or you were one of those kids that watched PBS for fun. Toys-R-Us had a display of these cars that were…well, child-sized and battery-powered. They would go as fast as – what I thought at the time was at least the equivalent of a suburban speed limit – but what really was around 2.5 mph.

We never got one, no matter HOW many times we asked. But the second we walked into the store, my brothers and I would trample kids over and shove aside shopping carts just to get to the car section. Then when we had to leave, we would beg and plead and try to extend our time for as long as possible.

And as we were getting dragged out by our feet, we told our parents how lucky they were that they got their own car to drive whenever they wanted.

My second story is going to be an obvious one, because what “childhood memory of Toys-R-Us” blog post would be complete without a narrative about

Christmas Shopping

Certainly not this one.

Every year, a few weeks following up to Christmas, my dad would load me and my brothers up in the car for our sibling Christmas shopping trip. The sibling Christmas shopping trip would go like this:

  • We’d each go to our respective sections (me: the girl section for anything Polly Pocket or Beanie Baby, them: the boy section for dumb boy stuff).
  • We would then decide on a variety of toys suitable to open on the big day.
  • Our dad would come to our section, take notes on our selection, and find the other siblings to let them know.
  • The other siblings would then pick out what toy they wanted to give as a gift.
  • Then we’d all go do what we had wanted to since we arrived (the car section), and drive around until it was time to leave.

My dad, of course, paid for all of the gifts we gave to each other. Which is perhaps what I miss most about this scenario.

The next story is one of hope and inspiration. It’s a story about

The Time My Dad Almost Got a Job at Toys-R-Us

One evening, when I was in third grade, my dad came home after work and told us that his company had gotten bought out. That meant that everyone there was going to lose their job, including him. Not realizing the implications of a job loss (poverty, homelessness, us having to use our own allowance to buy Christmas presents), I deemed the announcement as fantastic news.

Now he could finally be an employee at Toys-R-Us like I had always dreamed.

I told him the good news, eager for this whole “job loss” to be behind us and the free toys to start flowing.

He appreciated my advice, but unfortunately never got around to picking up an application. Shortly after the company buy-out, he found another job at a nearby insurance company.

But instead of unlimited toys, he does my taxes, which I suppose worked out in the end.

So, in unrelated news, I don’t know how to do sidebars on this blog. But if I did, this story (well, less of a story and more of a “thank you, Toys-R-Us”) would be a

Sidebar

When I was an au pair in Australia, I had to find ways every day to entertain a three-year-old. When I ran out of ideas, or grew sick of feeding those scary ass ducks, we would go to Toys-R-Us. I could sit on my phone and text all of my cool Australian friends, while she would look at and touch all of the dolls and stuffed animals (that she didn’t know that were supposed to come out of the box). Thank you, Toys-R-Us. So

In Conclusion

Toys-R-Us, this one goes out to you. I’m eternally disappointed that one day soon (just being realistic here) you’ll be shutting your doors forever. I know I don’t frequent your establishment very often (well, since 1998), but it’s a shame all of my children that I don’t want to have will only see toy shopping through the screen of a computer and never know the joy of a Toys-R-Us trip.

Thank you for all of the memories.

And more importantly, the stuff.

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There’s Just No Funn After the Summer Ends

Well, friends, summertime is winding down. Which is sad for a lot of reasons. For example, it’s going to start getting cold. The days will be getting shorter. I can’t call out of work to go to the pool.

But it’s really sad because the end of summer means that baseball season in Richmond is over.¹

I attended the last Flying Squirrels game of the year on Labor Day as a way to say goodbye, I’ll miss you, and thanks for the memories. Also because I had nowhere else to be. And the Big Gulp sized beers.

I’ve been frequenting the Squirrels games more and more each summer, and these events have slowly started to become one of my favorite summertime activities.

And if they’re not yours, well…let me try to convince you otherwise.

This is the closest thing to a sports team Richmond has

We don’t have a national football team². No major league baseball to watch. No NBA all-stars. Go to any sports bar and everyone is cheering for a different team. Guys, the Flying Squirrels is all we have. Well, I guess we have college sports (RIP Shaka) and the Richmond Rough Riders (I know, I had to Google it too).

They’ve given us something to debate over

Do you ever feel like Richmond is a little too cordial? That everyone gets along a little too well? Thankfully a few years ago, the debate over whether to move the stadium to Shockoe Bottom or just keep it where it is caused a whole stir among the city. It created a division among friends, neighbors, and immediate family members. A lot of relationships were ruined, because why would you associate with someone who disagrees with your viewpoint to move the stadium downtown?³

They’ve given us something else to debate over that I just thought of

Does anyone really know why the word “fun” in their slogan, “Have Funn, Go Nuts” is spelled wrong? Is it a typo? Is that the Olde English way of spelling it? Is it because of their phone number in letter form spells “funn”? No one knows! Let the argumennts continnue!

The games are really funn

Ha! Just a little humor I thought I’d throw in. But really, the games are a good time. Plus…

Those wacky mid-inning games keep you on the edge of your seat!

The Nut Race: will it be John Walnut, Eric Cashew, or Tom Almond4!? The t-shirt toss: what rolled up shirt am I not going to win this time!?5 Molly Maids plus ‘Nsync?! Never thought I’d see the day.6

You never have to worry about the game going into overtime

Unless the other team doesn’t score a run either.

Those exclusive fireworks

I mean, where else in Richmond can you watch 10 minutes of loud but colorful fireworks?7

The possibility of a foul ball coming your way is exhilarating

The sound of people screaming “heads up!” after a hit immediately opens the door of possibility. You might grave the ball with your fingertips and have a good story. You might even catch it, for a priceless souvenir. Or you might get hit in the head with a baseball going 90 mph, for the opportunity to sue the Richmond Flying Squirrels for, holy crap, a lot of money.

I get free tickets through work

This is unrelated, but I just like to tell people about this.


Anyway, that’s about all the reasons I like going to the Squirrels games.

No, just kidding, I of course have to mention the:

32 oz craft beers for only $10 each

Because why would anyone else ever go?

So, farewell to those beloved Flying Squirrels of ours. You’ve provided me with numerous hours of entertainment, funny stories, and hangovers. Farewell to Parney and his weird pants. Farewell to the baseball players whose names I can never remember. Farewell to John Macadamia Nut.

You’ll be on my mind all winter.

See you next spring.


¹ If you’re thinking that actually, the ending of summer technically doesn’t mean that baseball season is over, that there’s a little thing called “the playoffs;” first of all, stop being such a know-it-all. Second of all, you’ve apparently never seen the Flying Squirrels play.

² Don’t you dare say the Redskins because first of all, what a waste of money for the city and second of all, their training camp is really boring.

Oh, and third of all their name is racist.

³ And anyway, we ended up keeping the stadium where it is. Ha, ha! Oh Richmond!

I don’t actually know their names. If you do, please advise.

5 This is a subtle hint to the Flying Squirrels representatives to give me a free shirt because I have never managed to be in the line of fire during those t-shirt toss things. I mean it’s just not fair.

6 AND they manage to clean the field while they’re at it!

This is not sarcasm, I’m genuinely wondering where. The Squirrels only do it a couple of times a month, I’m wondering if there’s somewhere else I can go to watch fireworks in the meantime.7.1 


7.1 Look, I’m not always sarcastic, and now I’m actually a little offended that you thought I was being rude towards the Flying Squirrels and their fireworks display.7.1.1 


7.1.1 Sorry for my outburst. I’m just a little hungry. Sorry. I hope I didn’t hurt your feelings.

 

Being a Vegetarian Is Harder Than It Looks

I had the most disappointing sandwich of my life today.

I went to a luncheon for work (at the Boathouse, by the way), where, in addition to collective networking and a panel of educated speakers, they supplied a full spread of gourmet lunch buffet.

Perfect. Delicious. I’m famished.

I found a seat, did some of that networking thing, then made my way up to the buffet. I got a little bit of regular salad, a handful of grapes, and an apple. Then I approached the sandwich section of the buffet. My initial thought: whew. What a relief. They have a vegetarian option.

“Whoa, back up,” you’re thinking. Because you might be doing the Cha Cha Slide. Or, perhaps, because you didn’t know I was a vegetarian.

“You’ve never talked about it, bragged about it, or tried to convert me,” you’re also thinking. Because you might be talking to a friend who you just learned is a Scientologist. Or because you never knew I was a vegetarian.

Rewind 12 years ago. I was a senior in high school and I decided to try out the whole “not eating meat thing.” I wanted to see how hard it would be, and if I felt any different. After all, I wasn’t buying my own groceries or cooking for myself, so what better time to try it? (Sorry again, Mom)

Turns out, it wasn’t hard at all and I felt really good.

And so I just never got around to stopping.

It’s not a particularly profound or interesting story. But that’s exactly what happened.

So, fast forward 12 years later. I’m at the Boathouse, being a professional at a professional work event, relieved and, might I say, rather excited, about this vegetarian-option-wrap that they’ve provided.

And then I started to eat the wrap.

I think it would be easier to explain it in ratio form.

  • 80% whole wheat wrap
  • 9% dry cucumbers
  • 7% withered red peppers
  • 4% hummus

Leaving 0% for flavor, in case you were keeping track.

Was I disappointed? Yes.

Was I surprised? No.

In my 12 years as a vegetarian, I’ve had my shares of letdowns.

When I first experienced a vegetarian-related disappointment (discrimination), I was in my freshman year of college. My grandparents took me and my cousins to Florida to visit our great-aunt and great-uncle. The first night there, they had packed a picnic dinner to enjoy on the beach. But, missing the memo that I was a vegetarian (or that vegetarians exist, I guess), they served us fried chicken, ham, mini turkey sandwiches, and potato salad with bacon bits (chopped into tiny damn unpickable pieces).

That night for dinner, I had a bag of baby carrots and a sandy pecan cookie.

Vegetarianism: 1, Rachel: 0.

The next incident of vegetarian-related disappointment (discrimination) occurred my sophomore year when I studied abroad in Guatemala. Overall, every restaurant had been pretty accommodating when they found out they had a vegetarian on their hands. But in this particular situation, we had all sat down for lunch, and were one by one receiving our meals. Everyone’s looked amazing: thick tortillas, handmade guacamole, steaming rice, black beans, and mounds of white chicken. Assuming mine would be the same as everyone else’s minus the meat, I was hungrily anticipating what was to come.

Imagine my disbelief when the chefs (who perhaps didn’t know what a vegetarian was?) sent out a plate piled high with nothing but shredded iceberg lettuce.

Vegetarianism: 2, Rachel: 0.

The last example I’d like to give of vegetarian disappoi– no, it’s discrimination. I’m just going to say it. The last example occurred a few years ago, while I was working full time at a local nonprofit. As with any nonprofit, we had a few annual fundraisers to keep our organization…well, nonprofit. On this particular day, we were holding a golf tournament. All of the board members and directors (ie everyone responsible for my salary) were there, and, as one of the few staff members present, it was looking to be a very hectic day.

We had an early catered lunch before the tournament, which was great because I. Was. Starving.

But who was catering, you ask?

Outback Steakhouse, of course.

There’s no need to go into the gritty details, but, in no mood to go hungry for the rest of the day, I ended up piecing together all of the meat-free foods in an innovative manner that would only make a 7-year-old or stoner proud, through the means of a Lays potato chip sandwich.

I sat down with a group and started eating, hoping no one would notice or say anything. Unfortunately, everyone noticed; but based on the seething look I gave the first person who made a comment (“Boy, you just eat what you like, don’t you!”), no one else dared to make fun of my lunch, and I was properly fueled for the rest of the day.

Vegetarianism: 3, Rachel: 0, Guy Who Made Fun of My Sandwich and Avoided Me for the Rest of the Day: -1.

So, in conclusion, I’d like to dedicate this post to all of you vegetarians out there.

For those times that your friends suggest meeting up at a barbecue restaurant for dinner.

For those times that someone at the potluck adds bacon to a previously vegetarian dish.

For those times that people ask you how you live without Chick-fil-A.

For those times that you have to check soup label ingredients for chicken or beef stock.

For those times you have to admit that tofu actually isn’t all that good.

For those times on Thanksgiving when…well…mashed potatoes just don’t cut it.

For those times that the only thing on the menu for you is a side salad and French fries.

For those times that you get a stomach ache from too much hummus.

For those times that the vegetarian option is a dry wrap with wilted vegetables inside.

For all you vegetarians…this one is for you.

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The 8 Types of People on Every Guided Tour

Last week, for my brand new professional writer’s job, I was sent to Charlottesville for a work press trip. I’m doing a story on things to do in the city, restaurants to check out, and places to stay.

An employee from the Charlottesville Visitors Bureau set up the daily itinerary for the duration of my stay. She did a great job of creating a balanced mix of activities. Theater, wineries, apple picking, outdoorsy stuff, etc. But…it’s Charlottesville. Where three of the founding fathers resided at one point in their lives. So it’s hard to go there without attending a few historical tours.

Which, was fine, I like history as much as the next guy. I got tours of James Monroe’s plantation, James Madison’s retirement home, and of course Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

I learned a lot about their family lives, their presidencies, their achievements…blah, blah, blah. But in between learning about the University of Virginia and the Declaration of Independence, I learned another valuable lesson.

There are a lot of different types of tour-goers.


The Question-Asker

The Question-Asker generally asks questions that really aren’t at all important. Sometimes the questions aren’t even relevant to the topic at hand. Often the Question-Askers just like to talk as much as possible to hear the sound of their own voice. They usually have a lot of deep-rooted unfulfilled attention-related needs, which are easily met on guided tours.

Pro: Sometimes they ask something that you’re too afraid to ask in fear of sounding stupid.

Con: They extend the tour by a minimum of 30 minutes.

The Know-It-All

The Know-It-All knows more about history than the average person, and sees no reason to keep this fact to themselves. This person is most commonly a retiree who spends much of their extensive free time reading nonfiction books and watching the History Channel. During a tour, the Know-It-All will frequently interject with an interesting fact about the current topic. Sometimes they’ll even finish the tour guide’s sentences.

Pro: You might actually learn something that you wouldn’t have learned otherwise.

Con: Your tour guide will probably be in a bad mood when they finish the tour.

The Wannabe-Know-It-All

The Wannabe-Know-It-All wishes they knew more about history than the average person, and sees no reason to keep this desire to themselves. In reality, they know a little bit more than most, but want to sound knowledgeable by stating facts or adding to the tour guide’s spiel.

Pro: You’re definitely not the most annoying one on the tour.

Con: This person is almost always wrong and your tour guide definitely be in a bad mood when they finish the tour.

The Side-Commenter

The Side-Commenter has a lot of opinions, but doesn’t actually want to interrupt the tour. So they just keep their comments to themselves. Loudly. Tour Guide: “Dolly Madison had a son named Payne from a previous marriage. And he was a real, well, pain.” Side-Commenter: Hey-o! That’s a convenient coincidence! “Payne gambled away all of James Madison’s money” You gotta be kidding me! “Sold his library of books” Holy crap almighty, really!? “And then moved to Scotchtown, Virginia.” Scotch! Ha! Yum.

Pro: The tour guide usually is either far enough away to not hear the Side-Commenter, or is really good at ignoring them.

Con: JUST SHUT UP ALREADY.

The Bad Listener

The Bad Listener is…well, a bad listener. Often distracted by their own thoughts or something shiny, the Bad Listener tunes out a lot of the tour. However, they hear just enough of it to want to learn more. They reveal their bad listening skills by constantly asking the tour guide about something that was already covered. Example: “So, where did that huge buffalo skin covering the wall come from?” Entire rest of the tour: “Lewis and Clark.”

Pro: You might learn something you yourself tuned out or somehow missed.

Con: If the group also contains a Question-Asker, the tour will take at minimum an extra hour to finish.

The Really Bad Listener

The Really Bad Listener…Does. Not. Want. To. Be. On. This. Tour. You can identify the Really Bad Listener by the person with a consistently glazed-over look on their face. Or, more commonly, the person who hasn’t stopped using their phone since the tour started.

Pro: Unlike the Bad Listener, the Really Bad Listener usually doesn’t care enough to ask any questions during the tour.

Con: You’re probably going to be distracted by their selfies.

The Thorough Tourist

The Thorough Tourist wants to see every bit of the tour. Like the Know-It-All, the Thorough Tourist is usually a retiree with a whole bunch of empty time on their hands. This person generally doesn’t have anywhere else to be, and wants to make sure they see every piece of every bit of every room during the tour. That means furniture corners, picture frames, rug fringes, and wallpaper. Oh, the Thorough Tourist loves wallpaper.

Pro: Um, maybe we all need to slow down and enjoy the details in life once in awhile?

Con: No, actually we just need to get through this tour in a reasonable amount of time.

The Family

The Family…well, is pretty self-explanatory. Yes, yes, we all want to raise smart children exposed to culture and history and knowledge. The problem is, there’s a period in every child’s life when they’re too young to appreciate historical tours but too old to leave in the car. So the rest of the tour-goers have to deal with the bored, uninterested, is-this-over-yet children.

Pro: At least they’re not your kids.

Con: Yeah, but you can’t discipline them.

Solution: Just leave them in the car anyway.


But hey, friends! Don’t let that deter you! Charlottesville is great. It’s got mountains and restaurants and hiking and shopping and breweries and camping and orchards and theater and wine and bagels and music and history…

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