Taking a tour should be an educational experience. The tourist should be there to learn about some sort of history or trivia, and they generally accept that the guides will be the ones to teach them. Unfortunately, some tourists don't realize this and assume they are correct about everything all the time always. These poor employees were forced to interact with this insufferable people, and the results range from hysterical to horrific. This content had been edited for clarity.
"My uncle was a tour guide in Iceland, some time ago. He once guided a group of Americans around the country and stopped at a glacier in the middle of nowhere. He explained to the group that this glacier had been here for thousands of years and that it doesn't melt.
The group then went back to the bus to carry on, but my uncle notices that a woman was carrying a big piece of the glacier towards the bus, so he stops her and says, 'I'm sorry, you can't bring that onto the bus, it will melt.'
The woman quickly responded, 'But you said it doesn't melt!"
My uncle stood there for a while, dumbfounded by the amount of stupidity that was in that answer, before finally saying, 'Okay, but you'll have to put it in your backpack and keep it in there for the whole journey.' The woman readily agreed and started to empty her backpack to make space for the big block of ice. Needless to say this didn't end well for the woman, as the ice obviously melted in her bag."
"When I was working as a tour guide, we used to tell silly jokes for the kids. One of the local tree species has bark that looks a bit like bacon, so we would tell people that on a warm summer's day, if you stand really close and sniff the trees, they smells like cooking bacon. An American (because it is always an American) took us seriously, smelt one, and then he got angry at us when the tree did not smell like bacon."
"I was working on a tourist island in Australia when this man pulled out almost all the back feathers of a peacock because he wanted to keep one. He sneaked up behind it, and he grabbed a huge handful and yanked them all out. He was immediately shown off the island. The peacock had a huge bare patch and most of its beautiful feathers were gone. I don’t know what happened after he was shown off but I assume he wasn’t arrested. I sincerely hope he was, because it was an absolutely awful thing to do.
The peacock dropped feathers around the place all the time, and we had a couple of them in our store. He didn't ask anyone if they had any, he just tried to grab one off of the actual bird. I was only there for a few months after, and as far as I know, the feather didn't grow back. The peacock used to come hang around all the tourists, but he became very skittish, and we only saw him a couple of times after that."
"I was 7 months pregnant and it was the week before I went on maternity leave. I was driving out to one of our sites, and to get there, I had to drive (on the road of course) through our penguin colony. This particular species of penguin burrows underground and stays hidden in their burrow during the day, and they come out at night when birds of prey and other potential predators have gone to sleep. As I'm driving out to the site, I realize the parking lot up ahead is full and people have started parking up and down the road.
And that's when I see a giant SUV pull off the road and drive directly into the penguin colony.
I pull over, as what seems like 20 non-English speaking tourists start to pile out of the vehicle and take selfies with the ocean backdrop. Staying as calm as possible and using sign language, I point out the no entry signs of the bollards they drove past, the burrows they have just collapsed, inform them they may have killed penguins, and to get their vehicle out of this colony.
Once I got them out of there, I started digging out the collapsed burrows to check for penguins. I get a girl penguin out, check her over for injuries, and having no where else to put her, I follow protocol and tuck her under my left arm against my side. I get the boy penguin out and put him in the same position on the right side and start to check him over.
Remember how I said I was pregnant? Well normally, you hold a penguin down low almost on your hip, but because of my round tummy, I was holding him more at the bottom of my ribcage. So when I turned my head to start my health check, he reached up and grabbed my top lip with his beak, ripping it straight through the middle.
It was about this time that the tourists walking along the road realized this ranger was holding onto two penguins. I had five or six tourists sprint through the colony towards me and start snapping pictures, on the way collapsing even more burrows. If any internet sleuths stumble across a picture of a heavily pregnant, upset ranger, holding two penguins with blood pouring down her face let me know.
Happy ending, I chased away the photographers, popped those two uninjured penguins in a nearby unoccupied burrow, and radioed for back up to help with the parking situation. My lip healed without a scar, and both penguins left the following morning for a well deserved day in the ocean."
"I worked at a living history farm museum. I had a kid that was climbing on stuff the whole tour in the farm house and trying to get behind the forge in the blacksmith shop during a demo.
After the tour when people are allowed to roam the grounds, I hear his mom screaming and look over to the barn and this kid has climbed the fence into the field with our long horn oxen and is trying to poke them with a stick.
I walk over and calmly told him to get out of the field before our lazy oxen decide they've had enough, but this child decides to look me in the eye and smack Ted the ox on the butt with the stick. Ted, bless him, just kinda jumps a little and whips his head around with a surprised look on his face. But seeing as he's a long horn, he smacks this kid with one of his horns when he turned his head. Kid goes flying into the dirt and is having a melt down. Mom is freaking out. I'm like, 'Dude, get the heck out of the pen before Ted actually gets mad.'
So this kid is crying and trying to climb the fence out of the field. Bill the ox, who has been watching this whole thing, waits until the kid is almost over the fence and walks up to him. Bill nudges the kid in the butt with his nose and pushes him off the top of the fence. It was everything I could do to keep from laughing.
Kid was fine, Ted was fine, but the kid and his mom were promptly kicked out of the museum. Their dad and little sister were allowed to stay because she was well behaved and was just enjoying petting the goats at the petting zoo. So since the kid had to leave but his sister didn't, there was a temper tantrum in the parking lot that could be heard all the way to the other side of the farm. But the oxen got some extra grain that night, so I guess they won in the end."
"I overheard this conversation between two American tourists on a Eurostar train waiting to depart Paris for London.
'What time does the train depart?'
'I'm not sure. The ticket only has military (24 hour) time on it.'
'I wish they would use normal time. It's offensive to us Americans who don't understand military time.'
As an American who is capable of subtracting 12 from a number, all I could do was lay my head in my palms and wish I could smack them across the face."
"I worked as a tour guide at a few really old churches. Most people were fantastic but some are astonishingly terrible.
Three types of tourists come up pretty often:
-those who interrupt to sound smart and it backfires miserably. 'Oh the bell tower collapsed in 1605? Well OBVIOUSLY it was damaged by peasants at the start of the French Revolution as all symbols of religion were reviled-' nah bro, you're like 180 years off, I don't know how you thought that was true.
-those who DEMAND to see closed sections of the church. One lady threatened to 'call the archbishop on me' because I couldn't take her down to the crypt. Look, it's locked and no one's seen the key in like 300 years, I don't know what to tell you.
-those who mock me and try to challenge me on every part of the tour. If you hate it so much then why are you paying to be here?
They were the exceptions. 99.999% of the time, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the groups I led. But some people seem to go out of their way to be mean."
"Visitor: 'You're not from around here, are you?'
Me: 'Actually I am, born and raised.'
Visitor: 'Well I've been coming to the south for 25 years and you just don't seem like you're from here.'
Me: 'Well, uh, my parent's don't have strong accents either.'
Visitor: 'I just think I would like you better if you had a southern accent.'
Sorry that playing up to stereotypes is not in our visitor's services manual. I'm here to talk about history not recreate your southern fantasy."
"As a tour guide, you get a feel for your guests and what they expect from you. There's a big difference between pretentious and excited. So this guy wasn't enthusiastic, he was talking down to me. The tone of his voice was lecturing. Every so often he rolled his eyes at me and made snarky comments about why I didn't know certain things. Once you get into personal insults, you're clearly not there to learn or share your knowledge.
The man demanded a different tour guide because he 'wouldn't be led around by a dirty Russian.' I'm not Russian, I don't speak Russian, and I have no idea why he was so convinced I was Russian.
But yeah no. He wasn't even socially awkward and couldn't tell he was being rude. He was simply mean. Unfortunately you get those some people sometimes in the service/tourism industry, but you've got to grin and let them do what they want. I stayed perfectly polite until he wanted to end the tour."
"This was pretty annoying. I'm French Canadian, and I was giving some information to four French tourists, and suddenly I notice that this woman has her camera pointed at me. I'm embarrassed, but I still keep giving the information, and by the end they ALL start laughing.
At this point, my face is red and I'm feeling super uncomfortable. I ask the woman if she was filming me and she says, 'Yes, your accent is too funny, I have to show that to my friends in France.' Basically, I felt like some kind of freak show and that woman didn't even ask me before starting to film. She just put the camera in front of my face, which was really disrespectful. Let me tell you that I'm very self-conscious and I felt a bit horrible after that."
"I had the pleasure of being assigned a 48 hour work trip to Juneau about five years ago.
I finished work at a decent time the first day, so I ventured up to the Mendenhall Glacier center. While I was there, people were putting their feet in the lake, and we were genuinely surprised because it was so cold. That's nothing, though.
While I was taking photos and admiring the view and the blue-ness of the ice, a small bear meandered thru the area. People came running to take pictures, of course I got some also.
Then, there was a small commotion as some guy started following the bear along the shore throwing rocks at it. The issue, you see, was that the bear was walking away from the masses, and this guy wanted a picture of its face.
He'd throw a rock and holler, 'Bear! Hey bear! Bear! Look at me, bear!' Rinse and repeat for about 45 seconds.
The tourist's friends were trying to get him to stop, and I told one of his friends that if the bear turned, I was going to throw a rock at the idiot's head, since the bear would definitely get that tourist."
"Mine is actually made worse by the fact that I was not a tour guide, but simply a restaurant worker.
A group of guests asked me when the city's shopping district closed.
At first, I thought this was a simple misunderstanding. Obviously, they'd never been there, and thought it was a mall rather than a section of the city with lots of stores in it. I personally didn't happen to know the hours of any of them, but a lot of the stores had websites, so they could look up the hours on their smartphones.
This was a completely unacceptable answer.
They kept demanding to know when the entire thing closed. Every time I re-explained to them the concept of a neighborhood with lots of unrelated stores, they responded with things like, 'We just need to know when [that entire chunk of the city] closes,' or 'We need to go to [whatever store],' and 'We don't want to look up their hours online, we want YOU to tell us.'
They told me I was terrible at my job for not having memorized every fact about the entire city that any tourist might ever want to know. I eventually told them that I was not a tour guide, it was not my job to do anything other than work in this restaurant, and that the reason I didn't know the store hours was because my job didn't pay me enough to shop there. They left still raving about how horrible I was and that I should be fired."
"Most of my family members who fought in the Civil war died at the Battle of Shiloh. They are buried in a mass grave, and every year at the anniversary we will all go down to Shiloh and have a small gathering and participate in the festivities.
On the 150th anniversary, there was a huge crowd and a tour bus from Nashville that brought some foreign tourists. Since we were also volunteers, we took a couple of groups around and showed them the sights. We took them over to the mass grave where the Confederate dead were buried.
One Irish guy stepped into the stones that marked one of the mass graves. We told him to step out of the stones, but he remarked that they lost and died for slavery. Two big dudes who were with us grabbed him and threw him out of the grave markers.
I don't care if they lost, have some respect for the dead."
"I went with my family to a reptile place, I think it was in Drumheller. There you see all the different types of snakes and sometimes they take out the non-poisonous snakes to hold. While I was there, I heard this lady asking one of the snake handlers if they can see this snake.
Lady: 'Can we see this snake?'
Guy: 'I'm sorry but the only snakes were allowed to take out is the one that's already out.' Points to the other handler.
Lady: 'Why can't you? There are two of you."
Guy: 'Yes, but that snake is poisonous.'
Lady: 'What? You didn't remove its poison?'
Lady: 'Okay,' (points to another poisonous snake). 'Can you take out this one instead?'
Guy: 'No,' (walks off)."
"We tour through streets and parks and make it really clear that the toilets at the beginning of the tour are the only ones for the first 90 minutes of tour. We get to a park about 30 minutes into the tour. Not a big park mind you, it is basically a big roundabout with a swing set, bench and two trees. I'm in the middle of my spiel in the park when I see a guy at the back of the group, step away, pull his pants down and squat on the grass. He took a big dump in front of the group.
Of course I was stunned and lost my flow which had everyone looking around only to recoil in horror as this guy drops a log like it was nothing. He wasn't even ashamed."
"I'm in the middle of talking to my tour group and someone's phone rings. Ok, that happens sometimes, and usually they'd just cancel the call or step outside. Nope, this guy answers the call and starts talking on the phone, pretty close to where I'm standing. I think, 'Oh he'll just quickly explain he's busy and end the call,'
Nope! He starts a conversation. The rest of the group glares at him and I'm put in an awkward position because my workplace put a huge emphasis on politeness. So I suggest to him to continue his call in the hallway, just outside the room we were in, to which he replied, 'No, I'm fine here,' and went back to his phone conversation.
I'm doing my best to talk to the rest of the group (about 25 people), but he's so loud! Eventually this woman yells across the room at him, 'Shut up, we want to listen to the lady, not you!' which worked. But I just couldn't imagine the nerve to ruin everyone's experience like that, he was too selfish to talk on the phone outside.
Also, the place I worked allowed photos but had a strict 'no photos of the staff' rule for privacy reasons. I always explained this at the start and 99% of people were cool. One day I had a particularly happy snapper who got right up in a staff members face to take a photo, like I'm talking centimeters from his face to take a photo. The staffer was just some random middle aged white dude, so I'm not sure why the fascination, but he was livid. It's like I saw it happen in slow motion so couldn't do anything to stop it. That guy was removed from the tour."
"So this rich entitled lady came to visit Santa with her young son and husband. She had heard that the Santa on staff that day wasn't the best actor, so almost immediately on arrival, she asked if we could make sure, 'We don't get the bad Santa.'
Ok, well that's out of our control, but I told her I'd pass along her concern.
Day 1 goes fine but on Day 2, you guessed it, it's Santa day. They way the Santa visit works is the kids go in a secret command centre and 'post' letters to Santa. Those letters go behind the wall where Santa is waiting as a surprise. Now this kid wrote a very detailed letter, including his name, all his pets names, and we he and they wanted. This Santa only gets a minute to skim the letter. So the kid comes in, and he's fine. Santa can't remember everything and the kid doesn't mind. Everything seems to be fine.
The mom is waiting by the back door for all the other families to be done when she storms up. She's shouting about how he was terrible and he shouldn't work there if he can't do his job. Suddenly, she snaps and barges in the back door and starts screaming at a beardless frightened Santa. She tells him, 'He should be shot,' and screams at the staff, 'Quit that elf voice! I know you're not a real elf!'
After a lot of back and forth, she finally caves and the family leaves.
Now this isn't the end of it. I'm in charge of seating our 200 guests at their Gala dinner that night, so I put her right in the best seats to avoid any further problems. I also notify our partner so that they know the potential issue and we have security on standby. She arrives and we seat her fine, but then she finds out Santa will make another appearance on the stage after food and demands that he doesn't. She rants again at the venue manager, and after security step in we call her a cab and send the family back to the accommodation.
On the final day, they were fine. We said goodbye and merry Christmas to them with smiles on our faces. But all the staff agree. NEVER had there been a woman like her here. And after all that, the kid was actually fine and had a nice time."
"I was on a tour of Namibia and had a Zimbabwean guide who was telling us his craziest stories. He had a couple that was married who were on their honeymoon on one of his trips. One night, everyone is sitting around the fire and chatting and this couple gets up to go to the bathroom. This is a campsite so they walk off into the darkness towards the toilets.
A few minutes later the guy runs back alone, crying and panicking. Everyone asks him what happened. 'I think my wife was killed by a lion.'
Gasp, shock. Everyone is freaked out, asking him what happened, and as he's trying to explain, the now-irate wife walks up to the campsite and starts yelling. So what had happened?
Well, they'd walked off, and at some point near the toilets, they both heard a kind of snuffling noise in the underbrush, clearly an animal rooting around. The husband completely freaks out, pushes his wife towards the noise and down to the ground, screams, and runs away. Spoiler alert, it was not a lion and the wife was not pleased at the attempts at being sacrificed. The guide told us that they didn't speak the entire rest of the trip and they he believes they got divorced. Hilarious."