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Tour Guiding

I’ve been a walking tour guide for almost 5 months. You just never know what you’re going to get from tour to tour. Last week I was sexually harassed by this phillipino guy from Seattle because I made the mistake of revealing my sexual identity (thinking that it would build some commonality, it built a little too much).

I was giving an “Underground” Portland tour to a middle school a few months ago. The tour itself focuses on ‘Underground’ topics more than actual subterranean locales. This 13 year old boy from the tour group trots up to me as I’m pulling away from the group to ask “Where’s vaseline alley?”, which is a dated term describing Portland’s now defunct strip of gay bars. After collecting myself, I told him it used to be at 10th & Stark, but that it’s not really there any more.

Many of my tours take place in Oldtown/Chinatown in Portland, and they are often invaded by crazy street people who have something to say. I’ve taken to calling them “Portland Flavor” to my groups once they’re gone and out of earshot. There was one instance where a homeless man was invading and asking questions, and a postman walked up and took him away as he walked by. Myself and the group were pleasantly surprised by this act of consideration from the postman, and my comeback to the group was simply “Portland, a city that works.”

Today, I was scheduled to give a private tour to the Pear Bureau. Yes, there is a pear bureau because, evidently, over 90% of the world’s pears are grown in Oregon and Washington. Well, the surprise was that the pear bureau was actually hosting some high end Russian travel and food show. So I essentially gave a tour to a Russian television show. I’ll be appearing to 56 million Russians as the guide who introduced them to Portland and Voodoo Doughnuts. They even filmed me walking and talking with the host of the show. There’s no end to the thrills in my life.

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