I warned my client not to run the tour after happy hour.
Posted: Oct 13, 2012 | 3:59 PM
I don't do pub crawls for a few reasons. One of which is that some drinkers get bellicose as they imbibe.
The garrulous group of seniors were already tipsy from unlimited all-inclusive booze. It was the last night on their cruise, and they had been drinking for two hours. I expressed concern to the Tour Director that people should not drink while touring. It was dark out at 7:30 when the bus pulled out.
Normally, this client has the tour run in the afternoon. That's how we have done it for years.
But there was a new client representative for me to deal with, and I had to tell her the itinerary. I guess the old crew left en masse. This night tour was a new idea, and I expressed concern.
There were two rules for those tours. Rule 1: Get them back in time for happy hour, and Rule 2: show them the World Trade Center. Then tour for another two hours.
Now we were rolling in the dark after happy hour was officially done.
I told my client weeks before that such a late tour in the dark risked being a permutation of rowdiness and/or somnolence. I used simpler vocabulary.
Unofficially, Happy Hour continued on my tour. People brought full glasses of cocktails and bottles of wine. One man climbed aboard armed with fresh bottle in each hand.
I had to quiet some of them down at one point as if they were teenagers or tipsters shouting in a bar the way they do.
We had driven by the WTC so both sides of the bus could look at it. After, in the dark between the World Trade Center and Chinatown was not much to see, so I spoke of the heroism of Rick Rescorla, one of the heroes of both World Trade Center attacks, who saved nearly 3000 lives.
An empty wine bottle rolled on the floor clinking against the seats' bars. It was consumed pretty fast.
The group was rapt for this story except for a well-dressed drunk in his 60s who ambled up front yelling that he was bored of the World Trade Center and he wanted to hear about history. I told him that the World Trade Center involves history.
At first I thought he was with the Tour Company giving me new directions. Sometimes tour companies have additional employees, or the owners' wives, on tours that don't identify themselves until they start barking orders as if I should know who they are and be able to have read their thoughts. One time, the owner of a company's wife throttled my neck from behind and started yelling at close range after she wanted to change up the tour without telling me what she wanted and who she was. Tour Guides have to react quickly.
He was wearing identification, had kind of sports jacket anchorman and Ivy League haircut look, and he demonstrated purpose and confidence.
I gathered that he was drunk when I couldn't productively engage him, and then realized he was an irate passenger.
I told him we were a few blocks from Chinatown. And we were, since we were on Canal near 6th Ave. I told him the story was almost over, and then we'd be onto different topics again (like we were before the World Trade Center).
He barked: "Chinatown! Sounds like HISTory THERE! Let's hear about CHINAtown! Can't you tell us some New York history already? Don't you KNOW anything? I paid for a HISTory tour. The World Trade Center isn't history."
The group wanted me to finish the story.
He started yelling that he wanted to return back to the ship, that the tour was a rip off. He was standing in the aisle only a few seats behind. I told him that the tour would continue, but that we would pull over and let him take a cab back.
He insisted that we stop at that very moment. I matter of factly informed him that traffic regulations and safety concerns required that me and the driver agree on a safe spot to pull over to let him off, and that we would as soon as possible.
Up until this point in my career mentioning 'safety and 'laws' and 'soon' suffices.
He was impatient. He loomed over me.
When we arrived at a clear drop-off spot a minute or so later, I had a quick decision to make.
If I let this belligerent stumbling drunk step off the bus unassisted, he might fall on his face. In Tour Guiding Class we were taught to be off the bus to make sure everyone following disembarks safely.
But if I stepped off ahead of him to be there to catch him, he might assault me.
He rushed the door. I cut him off, stepped off first, then pivoted quickly to spot his rapid descent, since he tailed me. He followed me to the curb, and I explained how to catch a taxi. There were plenty around, all already hired.
By this point the Tour's Director had disembarked. She was standing beside him. He followed me back to the bus, making angry remarks. He cocked his arm back as if to take a swing at my face.
I think I stepped out of range while I reckoned that if I were assaulted that I could probably leave him behind and continue with the tour with a punched face.
The Tour Director grabbed his arm, held it back, tucked it to his side, and I re-embarked with her quickly following. The driver slammed the door shut, and away we went.
By the time we were at the Bowery at the end of Canal, my adrenaline calmed.
As we passed some Irish bars on the way to Times Square one chanted for us to go to a bar.
By tour's end the passengers agreed that it was a good history and city lights tour.
After we disembarked, the Tour Director said she was glad to hold his arm down because if he assaulted me they would have had to involve the police which would delay and ruin the tour. She already had the passengers sign waivers before the tour to let them drink on the bus, so I suppose she'd have to stop the tour if I were assaulted to reduce liability.