A Chat With Chu

Our goddaughter Katherine
with Frank Chu.
While headed to The Coffee Bean on Market Street one day, Dorian and I happened upon San Francisco's "Most Pathological Citizen" (SF Weekly, 2007), Frank Chu.

We were stopped at the corner of Market and Powell while waiting for the light to change, so a conversation ensued..

Dave - "Hi Frank!"

Chu - "Hello."

Dave - "It's nice to see you again."

Chu - "I am seen by many, I have CBS news cover the twelve galaxies. They do that with twelve crews of reporters who speak to me."

Dave - "Awesome! Hey, do you know who Merlin Mann is? He posted a picture he had taken with you a while back, and he writes about you every now and then. I've never met him but I think he comes by here a lot."

Chu - "Do not know him, there are many. Many come and hear of the twelve, the galaxies, they will come. The invaders will come. My message will be told."

Dave - "Oh, it's being told, no worries there. You're quite famous, pal! Hey, this is my wife, Dorian" (indicates Dorian, standing beside him).

Chu - "Nice to meet you."

Dorian - "You too, Frank" (smiles).

Light changes.

Dave - "Hey, we gotta roll, man. Hang in there, you'll get through to everyone eventually!"

Chu - "I know this, they heed. Must heed the twelve and more before they come."

Never let it be said that we're not doing our part to further the cause.

Whatever that may be.

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My Name Is Rod


I used to work with a guy named Rod, a typical actor-wannabe who was working a regular job while going around doing auditions on his days off. He had a son, Peyton, and a daughter named Janelle, who were seven and thirteen at the time.

Peyton was a kid actor who loved doing it so much that Rod and Mrs. Rod went and got him a kid agent, who, to be clear, is an agent for kids. The agent isn't a kid. I think the agent is about thirty something, but that's really not relevant to this, so pay attention, okay?

When they were casting for an upcoming new show called "My Name Is Earl" (2005-2009), Peyton's agent called Rod and Mrs. Rod to have them bring Peyton to the audition for one of the two kids of Joy (Jaime Pressly) and Darnell (Eddie Steeples). Mrs. Rod had to work that day, so Rod took Peyton to the audition and had Janelle come along to help.

Jaime Pressly and Eddie Steeples as Joy and Darnell.
They arrived on time and were about to walk into the room when Peyton announced that he had to go potty, so Rod asked Janelle to take him to the restroom while he went to sign-in. Rod walked into the room and a casting director looked him over and said, "Oh, you're here for the cop role! Great! Come on over, we've been waiting for you."

Rod tried to explain that he'd just brought his son to audition, and he was in the restroom, but they didn't listen. A sheet of paper was thrust into his hand and Rod was asked to read from it.

"Sir, you'll have to move your car."

It was a simple line and Rod had a booming James Earl Jones thing going on, but significantly younger, so he sold them in a second. They told him he was perfect for it and they gave him instructions on where to be and at what time.

It was a tiny part. Fans of the show may recollect the pilot episode, where the Del Taco guy (as in the wimpy actor who played the head of Del Taco in TV commercials for a long time) goes to a gay club but sits out front in his car, afraid to go in. A black cop approaches him and tells him he can't park there. The guy says, "I'm not gay!" and the cop says, "Well you're still gonna have to move your car!"

That was Rod.

So, Peyton returned from the restroom and they had him read a few lines, plus took some pics of him but he didn't get the part, which would have been ongoing throughout the run of the series. But Rod got the part of the cop in the pilot episode.

Watch out, Rod; karma's a bitch.

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PHIL, The Gay Archbishop

This post was written several years ago when we lived in Palm Springs California, on a blog that was murdered by our hosting company, so I figured I'd post it again.


This is Phil:

He’s our gay archbishop neighbor who appears at our window several times a week, as shown in the pic.

I KNOW, huh? He scares the cat.

I’m not a judgmental person. This is because I’ve had people poke fun at me lots of times, so I don’t poke fun at Phil. Much.

I DID put him on BlogTV, though. The above shot is a screen-cap from the live video feed. He walked up while I was testing out my BlogTV account by doing a live broadcast with about five people in the chat room looking at me. I turned the web cam to the window and got up to about fifty people, most of whom delighted in making all kinds of disparaging remarks about poor Phil, who didn’t even know he was on cam. I don’t know if that’s legal, and it may be slightly unethical, but it sure was fun.

Phil got me to thinking about morality recently, and what’s acceptable in our culture as opposed to what’s not, and - if not WHY not - and all that kind of heavy stuff.

Oh, he didn’t bring the subject up; he just talks about gay issues, politics, and gay issues in politics. I got to thinking about it because most people can’t stand him, so I started asking myself, “Okay, what is it about this guy that makes him so creepy?”

He doesn’t walk around naked, only mostly naked, as pictured. And he doesn’t give any inclination toward anything that would make you want to hide your children when he comes around, yet I’d bet most of you would immediately shove them in a closet.

But a lot of people in the chat room started making all kinds of obscene remarks about Phil because he looks and talks funny, so I kicked most of them out.

Why do people get that way? Is it the anonymity of the Internet?

Do I even have to ask that?

Because, you know, if I invited someone into our apartment and gave them a beer, and they carried on like that - all foul-mouthed, obscene, and critical of my neighbors - I’d kick their ass out, even if they were being critical of Archbishop Phil, which is really easy to do.

Granted, I’d much rather have someone like the great tenor Plácido Domingo come to my window and sing opera to me.

That would be cool.

Plácido Domingo, NOT singing at my window, sadly enough.
But even then it’s possible I’d get irritated with Señor Domingo if he came to the window frequently and was always like, “Hey Dave, I’m working on an aria from La Boheme and I want you to hear it!” when I’m in the middle of something.

That's what Phil does only, instead of singing arias (THANK GOD HE DOESN'T SING ARIAS), he asks me if I think any of the Osmond Brothers are secretly gay, and he recites stats that support his belief that over 80% of sailors on our modern US Navy ships are gay, and stuff like that.

Since it’s Archbishop Phil who comes to the window and not Plácido Domingo, I’m left to deal with that for what it is.

I’ll start by answering some questions you may have about him, which I've based on the questions some of the people in the chat room asked the day he was on the live video:

1. Is he REALLY an archbishop?

YES. Don’t call him “Bishop” or he will correct you, every time. He said that he has bishops “under him” and I said “I’ll bet” which sounded kind of snarky, but I’m not sure he picked up on that.

2. What church is he with?

"The Independent Apostolic Church of Something Or Other," which I’ve never been clear on. I said, “I’ll BET it’s independent.” He picked up on that.

3. You have a church like that in Palm Springs?

I wasn't aware of any, but apparently we do. He’s here on a two year “sabbatical” but can normally be found standing at his neighbor’s window in the UK.

4. So he’s openly gay? AND an archbishop?

YES, we covered that. Evidently that’s allowed in his church and he says he has women bishops “under him,” which takes away from my snarky remark in #1 (since he’s not into women) and also shows that his church is just a tad more than liberal.

5. Why would an archbishop, gay or not, walk around mostly naked?

We’re in Palm Springs and there’s a pool behind Phil that you can’t see because of my lousy web cam. It’s like a thousand degrees here during the summer, and he enjoys a refreshing dip like anyone else. Also, he sometimes wears a black tunic and sometimes a red tunic, both with a clerical collar, but not in the pool, which would just be weird.

6. He lets you call him “Phil?”

No, during his first appearance at my window he requested that I call him “Your Grace” but I think he reconsidered when I shot coffee out of my nose.

7. Does he like the music you play?

No, he calls it “The Devil’s Music." I was playing Led Zeppelin one day when he walked up, and that’s what he said. I asked him how it is that he can have young men over several times a week for oral sex but he finds my MUSIC to be morally reprehensible. Yes, I really did ask him that. I keep saying things like that to him, yet he keeps coming back.

Honestly, I wouldn’t say that kind of thing to Placido Domingo.

Regarding that question about his young male visitors, that's not an assumption; he told me about it during window visit #3.

If you have any more questions, you may leave them in the comments below - but keep in mind that I’m not a Phil expert because I don’t live with him or anything like that, and I don’t know which apartment he lives in, although I think it’s the one on the left. THE FAR LEFT.

It probably goes without saying that Archbishop Phil is an unusual guy but, in a way, I’m glad he comes up to my window because I agree wholeheartedly with Nietzsche, who said, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” It's character-building!


Early yesterday morning, Phil came up to our window while we were still in bed and, with the blinds closed to within four inches of the windowsill, he shouted into our nice, quiet apartment, “Hey did you guys catch last night’s Jon Stewart?”

He then proceeded to loudly tell us about it, even though we hadn’t answered him.

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Time For An Oil Change

Hey pals, how goes it?

Dave here, just announcing a few tweaks and improvements around this place.

I've been big on social network sharing for quite a while, so you can still get notifications of new posts from this blog on Twitter and Google Plus. Just follow me or circle me or whatever it is you do at those places, and it'll happen.

Please note that I don't actually hangout on Google Plus because I find it difficult to stay awake in that ghost town, but at least I plug new material there. Twitter and Facebook are where I like to have fun, so you'll get more at those places than just blog promotion.

Speaking of Facebook; as Bob Dylan once said, "The times they are a' changing," so I've changed things up on my Facebook account. Prior to today I just published post notifications on my private account, which wasn't so private because I had everything set to "public," which took me until now to realize:


So as of today my personal Facebook is set to "friends only," and is intended for real life friends, associates and assorted folks I have reason to friend. New friend requests won't be accepted unless I know the person or at least have a good reason to friend them.

For example, I don't know Scarlett Johansson personally but I'd friend her in a heartbeat if she sent me a request.

"Gee Dave, that's so nice of you!" *giggle*
But alas, NEVER FEAR faithful reader, because The Rhodester Chronicles now has:


YAY! ..right?

As John and Jane Q. Public you will not only get your notifications of new Rhodester madness on Facebook, but other fun stuff too and most importantly, you'll be able to comment on posts and other things there. In other words, you can INTERACT and be part of the fun. You just need to be using Facebook yourself of course, and you need to simply LIKE THE NEW PAGE.

Gosh, thanks!

Before you go, we need to rotate the tires and add some wiper fluid, so hold still a sec..

I've also dumped FEEDBURNER as an emailer because, well, it sucks royal tennis balls. I'm all signed up with MAILCHIMP now because we all know how reliable chimpanzees are, amirite or amirite or AMIRITE??

By plunking that cute little email address of yours into the form below, you'll be added to my official mailing list where you will be an official recipient of all official new posts once they're officially posted, AND NOT ONLY THAT, THERE'S MORE!


Now HOW in the world can you pass that up, I ask you. The chimps make it really easy to unsubscribe if you suddenly petition the court for all my records and see what I'm really like, and you won't have to fling any poo at me, you can just easily unsubscribe with a couple of clicks. The chimps hate spammers as much as you and I do, so they have plenty of built-in safeguards to be sure your email address is protected.

It's so awesome I haven't even published this post yet and we already have FIVE SUBSCRIBERS! Granted, two of them are my wife and I, one of them is her mother and one other is a fake email account I set up to test the thing, but hey, it's a start!

THANK YOU, LONE SUBSCRIBER! ("Lorna in Canada," in case you all were wondering.)


Sorry, I'm practicing writing sales letters so I can make some extra coin. Hope you don't mind. Thanks. Have a muffin.

Whenever a new post is published on The Rhodester Chronicles, the chimps will fling it at you at exactly 6:00 AM each morning, pacific standard time because that's the time zone I live in with my precious monkeys, and that's what we've decided to do. Also, if there's nothing new, you won't get an email. Unless it's one of those newsletters I mentioned, which will be twice a day.

KIDDING! Like I have time to write newsletters twice a day, har har! Twice a month, maybe.

Alright kids, she's all ready; here's your keys back, so take her out for a spin..

Email Format

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Meeting Tobolowsky


Bill Murray and Stephen Tobolowsky in 1993’s Groundhog Day.

Everyone remembers Ned Ryerson. My theory is that it’s because everyone’s had a Ned Ryerson in their lives, or perhaps – Lord help them – several Ned Ryersons.

Mine was a guy named Don. We were roommates back in the eighties, in a household of five single dudes, and Don was the bumbling, well-intentioned but annoying-as-hell roommate who’d try to do nice things like wash all the dishes when it wasn’t even his turn – but he’d end up breaking something your mom gave you when you left home.

When my wife and I were married in 1990, Don came to visit a few weeks after our honeymoon and he ended up setting our kitchen on fire while kindly trying to make us dinner.

So it goes with the Ned Ryersons of this world.

The great character actor Stephen Tobolowsky brought the memorable Ned Ryerson to life in 1993’s Groundhog Day, directed by the late Harold Ramis and starring Bill Murray. Ten years after the movie’s release, he said it seemed to be all he was known for, despite numerous other film roles by that time and quite a bit of stage work.

I was sent to the Universal lot for the filming of Garfield in 2003, to be a businessman walking down the street during some scenes involving Mr. Tobolowsky’s character (Happy Chapman) and Jennifer Love Hewitt (sigh).

Generally speaking, extras don’t engage the principal actors in conversation on sets, but I knew a guy, and the guy knew Tobolowsky. I don’t remember the guy’s name so I’ll call him “Charles,” because I recollect that he was kind of like a “Charles” should be when you think of that name.

I’d worked on a couple of other things with Charles before this shoot, so running into him on the Garfield set resulted in a hearty handshake and a bit of catching up. It turned out that Charles was a “real actor,” in that he did theater. Not community theater either, but the big stuff where you have an agent and you’re a union member and all of that. Charles was just telling me about a show he’d been rehearsing for when Stephen Tobolowsky walked up.

“Hey Charles!” he said. God, he sounded so much like Ned Ryerson, I started looking around for a puddle. He shook hands with Charles in a heartier fashion than I had, which told me they knew each other better than we knew each other, and a rousing conversation about theater ensued.

Not having risen above the community theater level, I felt entirely unworthy to even be listening to this conversation, but Charles had introduced us a few moments earlier and Stephen seemed to be a pretty nice guy, so I decided not to excuse myself. Jennifer Love Hewitt had even arrived on set and there was a bit of buzz going on about it but, Stephen’s anecdotes were so interesting, even she couldn’t pull me away. Those who know me know that’s saying a lot.

Somehow the character of Ned Ryerson was mentioned and I don’t know if it was Stephen or Charles who brought it up, but I know for certain it wasn’t me because I was standing there in dumbfounded silence; I was thinking, “Damn, I’m being all chummy with Stephen Tobolowsky, who I’ve seen in a billion things – including one of my favorite comedies of all time.”

Stephen told a story that he’d probably told for about the hundredth time that week, and it was a good one. I’m not surprised because, in doing a little background research on him for this post, I’ve noticed that he’s quite the storyteller, not only at his own blog but on his IMDB page as well.

He told Charles and I about a fan who kind of stalked him one afternoon while he was grocery shopping, but in a good way, in that she kept her distance. While he was cruising the aisles of the Studio City “Ralph’s,” he noticed that she kept looking over at him and smiling. “No big deal,” he said. “That happens all the time.”

The interesting part came after he’d checked out and was loading his groceries into his car. She’d checked out too and her car was parked only a few spaces from his, so she finally got up the nerve to approach him and ask for an autograph. “I just love your work!” she said.

“Thank you very much,” Stephen replied. He told Charles and I that people would engage him in conversation at least once a day, though usually more, so it was quite common and this was just a typical fan encounter. I remember him saying that even though it’s sometimes an energy drain, and he might be pressed for time, he always appreciated someone telling him about their favorite character and how much they liked it.

He also said that, “just about one hundred percent of the time,” it would be Ned Ryerson from Groundhog Day.

So, as he autographed something for the nice lady in the Ralph’s Supermarket parking lot, he asked her, “What’s your favorite movie of mine? Is it Groundhog Day?”

Her reply: “Oh, are you a film actor too? I wouldn’t know, dear, I don’t go to the movies.. my husband and I saw you last year at The Geffen Playhouse in “Waiting For Godot,” and you were wonderful!”*

In glancing at Stephen’s blog and seeing that he has quite the podcast, I’d imagine he’s told this story before (and probably correctly – I’m attempting to recollect a brief conversation from almost 12 years ago). So, if you’re a Stephen Tobolowsky fan or friend, please forgive the redundancy.

The point is, this never happens. Theatrical patrons usually just ask for autographs on their Playbills, and that’s if they do the waiting-at-the-stagedoor thing after a show. They don’t ask in supermarket parking lots a year later, and besides.. WHO HASN’T SEEN GROUNDHOG DAY?

Apparently, that lady.

I never saw Charles after that, so I hope he took Stephen’s advice and stopped working as an extra on movie sets. I didn’t see Stephen Tobolowsky again either, except for on the screen in my living room in about a thousand other things he’s done since Garfield.

Now I have a blog to subscribe to. What an interesting guy.

* Twelve years is a long time to remember the details of a story. It may not have been The Geffen Playhouse (in LA’s Westwood), but it probably was, and it might not have been “Waiting For Godot,” but only Stephen really knows for sure.

Bill Murray’s “Phil” encounters Stephen’s “Ned Ryerson”
in a doozy of a scene from Groundhog Day.

Stephen Tobolowsky’s BLOGPODCASTIMDB

Get Groundhog Day via Amazon Instant Video or DVD/Blu-ray.

The Life In Hollywood Series continues with:
The Day I Almost Killed Gwyneth Paltrow

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Life In Hollywood

This is the beginning of a new series called Life In Hollywood.

By Diliff (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

HOW did I start blogging? I’m glad you asked.

While working in Los Angeles as a film and television extra way back at the turn of the century, I found that people actually liked hearing the stories of my experience on set.

The thrilling part for me was telling a story and not having someone’s eyes glaze over; they seemed to like hearing the behind-the-camera stuff. My stories from Hollywood were so popular that I created a website called “LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD,” which eventually contained every tale I told while having dinner with a friend, hanging out in some social setting, or getting to know someone.

In 2003, right around the time blogging was getting popular, someone suggested I just make the website into a blog, so that’s what I did. “The Chronicles of Rhodester” was born, which initially consisted of those Hollywood stories. A few years in, the name was changed to “The Rhodester Chronicles” and – after numerous incarnations – here we are.

I realize there isn’t much in the archives for a blog that’s been around since 2003, but some a few of the old Hollywood stories are still here, rewritten and reposted:

The day I almost killed Gwyneth Paltrow
Me and Joss (on meeting Joss Whedon and not realizing it)
The Weirdest Directions I Ever Gave

Yep, that’s it. Pathetic, eh?

So, I’ve decided to resurrect some of the tantalizing tales that’ve been long gone, and put up a few that I’ve never posted, in a new series called – appropriately – LIFE IN HOLLYWOOD.

I’ll link each one to another story in the series starting with the next post, which is about meeting this guy one day:

Do you recognize him?

If you don’t, I’d ask how things are on that deserted island. (Also, how’s Wilson?) Stephen Tobolowsky never has been a leading man but, good golly, he sure has worked a lot as a character actor – which may be an understatement.

One time on set he gave an account of running into an autograph seeker while grocery shopping, and she wasn’t exactly a run-of-the-mill fan. That story is next.

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Shaking Off The Monday Blues

I would totally let this guy arrest me, because I bet we'd have fun.

I decided to take Monday off from blogging because a number of years ago, some guy here in the US got himself shot because he wanted everyone to be equal and be treated equal, and stuff like that, only it’s not the day he got shot, it’s his birthday, and we celebrate it for the legacy he left us with, which is still unfulfilled but I like to think we’re working that way, starting with really long sentences.

But now I am blogging but quickly realizing I have nothing to blog about because today it seems everyone has something to say about that guy, who was really awesome, and his legacy is awesome, but what can I add that hasn’t already been said, and also, more long sentences, yay!

In the shadow of that legacy, I feel kind of bad for snubbing my cross-dressing neighbor a few moments ago, who dropped by “to chat,” because the door was open, and geez – I HAVE TO QUIT LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN – but I would have snubbed anyone, because I’m really private when home and not that social, although I have to admit my cross-dressing neighbor is quite flirtatious with me and it makes me uncomfortable, but to be clear, I’d be uncomfortable if model-turned-actress Jaime Pressly flirted with me, so it has nothing to do with the fact that my neighbor likes to wear short skirts and basically looks like David Spade in heels.

David Spade (L) and Jaime Pressly (R), to make my point.

So I’ve decided that what I’m going to do today – or what’s left of it, being Monday evening now – is throw a hysterically funny video on here that you’ve probably already seen because it’s gone viral in the past few days, but it celebrates that legacy in a very loose, roundabout way, with the underlying message being:
“Hey, just do what moves you and to hell with what anyone thinks because most of the time they’re just hatin’ anyway, so you should shake it off and dance!”
..which is a message I have a feeling my cross-dressing neighbor lives by, which is totally awesome cool and stuff, and now I’m kind of sorry I was snubby but should I be more inviting just because of my neighbor's choice of gender presentation, given that I’d also snub Taylor Swift if she came to the door?

Okay I admit I wouldn’t snub Taylor Swift but I wouldn’t invite her in because the place is really messy, although I have a feeling she would just clean up our apartment and then buy us a car, but I would invite her to head over with us to our favorite local cafe in the neighborhood, and then I’d ask her if she’s seen this video of the cop getting down to one of her songs, because OMG now we all have to go to Dover and throw bricks through windows with the hope of being arrested:

"..you could have been gettin’ down to THIS – SICK – BEAT.."

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Strip Club Hooligans

This post contains explicit language fueled by alcohol then overheard.

Photo by Jesse Varner
We’ve lived over three strip clubs, one liquor store, and a smoke shop here in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco for almost two years because the rent is cheap.

There are trade-offs of course, like the noise, and sirens, and the noise, and fights, and the noise. It’s difficult to roll with, but perspective is important. I’m constantly reminding myself to be thankful that drunks, hobos and strippers don’t have sirens attached to them too.

Monday and Tuesday nights are the best, although the noise level is still something that would compel most of you to call the cops were it in your neighborhood. But as you can imagine, on weekends, it’s hard to get to sleep before three in the morning.

When the TV is off, we can hear every word spoken – and shouted – down on the sidewalk below, because we’re only on the second floor and our bay window is directly over the entrance of one of the clubs.

I’m posting this on a Friday – going into yet another boisterous weekend – so, here is an hour by hour breakdown of what we can look forward to, based on past experience. M is a male voice, which can include not only passers-by, but patrons of the clubs and the doormen who work the club entrances. F is for female voices, including the girls who work the clubs and stand out front with the doormen.

10 PM to 11 PM

M - Hey guys, how ya doin? Come on in, we’ve got girls! And liquor!
M - How much?
M - A forty dollar pass will get you in all three clubs here, so if you want a change of scenery you can head into another club later!
F - But why would you want a change of scenery when I’LL BE DANCING, HAHA! Come on boys, let’s go get our party on! WHOOOOO!!!
MMM (multiple) – WHOOOOOOOO!!! Let’s do this! WHOOOO!

M - Tara, get over here!
F - I want some cigarettes.


F - What you doin’?
M - Waiting for Tara. We’ll be right there.

11 PM to 12 AM

M - Hey fellas, we got booze and girls, come on in!
F - Yeah, come on in HUNNEEE!
F - What’s your name?
MMM - Ted.
F - You all named TED?
MMM - (laughter)


M - Damn that asshole at the liquor store carding and I forgot my ID.
M - I’ll buy, what you getting?

F - HI, HUNNEEEEE! What’s your name? Wanna come inside and see me dance?
M - Roger. No.
F - AW, where you goin? You don’t want to see naked girls dancing for you?
M - I’m gay, sweetheart, but thanks.

12 AM to 1 AM

M - Fellas, come on in! We got..
F - Let’s do shots and dance!


F - HI HUNNEEZ, where you guys all from?
M - He’s from Wisconsin, I’m DC, and I think he’s..
M - Missi-fucking-SSIPPY, BABY! WHOO!!
F - WHOO! Come on in and watch me dance, Mister Missy Fucking Sippy!

F - TAXI! Shit.. TAXI!!! Shit….

M - Hell no, I didn’t take your wallet, why would I take your wallet?
M - Maybe was that bitch in the club.
F - Oh, sorry babe. But at least you’re not gay, there’s that.

1 AM to 2 AM


M - Fellas, what’s up? You been in to see..?
MMM - We been in and going again and shit, what’s the time closing because shit..
M - Two AM here in California, you still got forty-five minutes.



M - You botherin’ this lady?
M - Who you callin’ DICKWAD!


MM - Assume the position, gentlemen.
MMMM - We’re okay officers, we was just fuckengsumblebishen….



2 AM to 3 AM


M - Let’s move along now, guys, you all have homes, let’s start heading that way..
M - YOU start heading that way! BWAAAHHH!!! HAHA!!!!
F - No one cares, shaddup.


3 AM to 4 AM

F - See you later, hun. Working tomorrow?
F - Yeah, but hey, split a cab with me!
F - Okay.. TAXI! ‘night Benny.
M - Goodnight ladies, see you tomorrow.
F - Mmmph, I love you Benny, you keep us safe! Bye doll!

4 AM to 5 AM

TAXI - Anyone need a cab? Hello?

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The WaveOf the FUTURE ghost! testing voice!

I was told that I could post! To my blog via the phone mobile phone. And so I thought! I had been so here it is the test, and then I thought maybe! Use voice recognition see if it would work

So here it is just a little best to see how it's going to bat go to the car. The instructions! Say to split query and cannot mobile so I am definitely speaking! Clear D with the hope that it would work. And that this would be a credible post for my blog the toaster Chronicles enclosing!

I, need two work on punctuation because? told that I could say ! and it would make !


I didn't know that? I mean that!! so yes I'm a luddite lol lol lol lol I amend it!!!!

Eye like about the 25th post things your blog like this just talk then it shows up in your blog and its simply a big ol well it's amazing. goats.

Okay well all of the well well well I'm exhausted now so yeah that'll be good okay thanks

who new in in year 2015 you could boo piss?  I don't know what mime is talking about because hey no typing! Now I can just talk!!! So hey I'm just happy, that now ear in the year 2015 wow it's going to speak into the phone and it types everything. goats.

I will that now gone too every post in toaster chronicles be voice recognition from now on okay!!!!!




“How VERY amusing..”

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Tourists on The Golden Gate

This past weekend, the Golden Gate Bridge here in San Francisco was closed for the first time in about a thousand years – or at least since 1987. They just made it seem like it had been a thousand years because there was a really big fuss, and traffic was a nightmare.

Meanwhile, a really cool lady with a cool blog posted some nifty photos of people riding around on tour buses in the UK, so it got me to thinking that perhaps I should post some nifty photos I’d taken of people crossing the Golden Gate Bridge while I was employed as a tour guide.

When I first started out, I loved seeing people’s expressions as they crossed the bridge – because it really was the best part of the tour – so I’d whip out my Droid and take pics.

I did this until I’d personally crossed for about the 500th time and the novelty started to wear off so, after that, I’d just go down below and let them enjoy the view while I used that same Droid to check my facebook.

You’ll see from the photos that there are nice days to cross the bridge, and there are cold, foggy days when the wind is an icy knife cutting through soft, malleable tourist brains. When it got like that, we’d issue plastic ponchos that cost the company twelve cents each and were maybe 100th of an inch thick, because people STILL INSISTED ON SITTING ON TOP – even when they were freezing. So we did our part to present every possible illusion of assistance.

I opted to make a slide show of my photos and turn that slideshow into a YouTube video, so here it is. Most of the photos are mine but additional credit goes to Joseph Amster and Douglas B. Davis.

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In Confessions Of a Tour Guide: Part One and Part Two, I gave some advice on how to be a good guide.

Here, in the third and final installment, I discuss how to be a good tour guest.

Good tour guests don't complain about the weather. Photo by DW Rhodes.
“WHAT?” you exclaim, loudly and with great surprise. “Why do I have to be a good guest? You’re the one who’s job it is to entertain and inform ME, Sparky!”

First of all, why are you calling me “Sparky?” Also, yes.

BUT, tour guides are human beings. Mostly. I’ve known a few where that’s questionable but, for the most part they’re humans who are saddled with those icky “feelings,” just like you and me. This means they can get sad, angry, or upset at something you say, do, or throw at them.

YES, most should be professionals. Yet some aren’t very professional and, when you take a tour, it’s sort of the luck of the draw concerning which guide you’re going to get. Since guides are only celebrities around the office, it’s not like you’re trying to choose between Jimmy Fallon and Will Farrell. (I’d go with Fallon.)

In part one, I talked about a guide who billed herself as "The Best Guide In The World!" but she seemed to have never cracked open a history book. So, there are some crummy tour guides but hopefully you’ve landed a good one and you’re finding him/her/unknown (welcome to San Francisco) to be very entertaining. Here’s how you keep it that way:

Be nice!

OF COURSE the guide should be nice to you, but that goes both ways. It’s really tough to give a live presentation on anything if someone is talking loudly, or shouting questions and comments at you, and interrupting your presentation.

Are you ready for an actual “confession?” I never blew anyone off but, if someone insisted on being a jerk, I just wouldn’t give them my ‘A’ game. My best performance took a lot of energy, so the ‘B’ game had a lot more pauses, way fewer jokes, and less engagement.

It’s known in theatrical circles that the audience won’t miss something if they didn’t know it was supposed to be there, which generally applies if a stage actor forgot some lines and managed to smooth it over with skill. The audience won’t notice, but it’s not how the scene was written – which was probably way better.

You’ll be missing out if you’re a jerk. You’ll get a tour, and I’ll still tell you about The Castro District, but you’ll miss my joke about nude grandpas because you’re an interruptive idiot who thinks it’s okay to blabber while I blabber.

Follow The Rules

There aren’t many rules on a tour, unless it’s a SEGWAY TOUR in which case you have to actually have a training session before you go. They really don’t want you to get squished by a truck, it’s bad for business.

Photo by Elizabeth.
While riding around on an open-top bus, there is only one rule, and that’s no standing up. This is for your personal safety because tree branches can really do some damage when they’re traveling at 35 mph.

You also can’t go up and down the stairs while the bus is moving, which is basically the same rule because you’d have to stand up to get to the stairs. That’s a good way to get yourself kicked off the bus and, yes, I know you paid forty bucks to take the tour but no one wants to explain to a judge why a tour guide let you get beheaded by power cables.

TIPS can make up for a whole lot if you decide to be a jerk, or even if you don’t.

A lot of you who don’t live in the United States aren’t going to like hearing this, but tipping for good service is part of the culture here and is expected. As mentioned previously, most visitors are aware that it’s customary to tip taxi drivers and wait staff, but seldom include tour guides in their generosity.

The typical feedback I heard (or overheard, since people are generally too polite to complain directly – especially if they’re Canadian) would be, “Don’t these guys get paid? If I bought a ticket and they get paid, why should I pay extra for them just to do their job?”

The answer is, because tour companies here – much like restaurants, cafes, and bars – pay their staff at minimum wage or just above, which is NOT A LIVING WAGE.

Especially in a ridiculously expensive city like San Francisco.

The tour companies are like, “Yay! We don’t have to pay our people shit because it’s a ‘gratuity-based’ position! We’ll save SO MUCH MONEY! YAY!” It’s really weird to see managers giggle and dance around whenever the subject is brought up.

My previous employer is based in London, and an employee who’d been transferred to San Francisco told me the London tour guides don’t take tips but get a decent living wage. I had my bags packed within the hour but soon found out I should have consulted my wife before making a decision like that, so I ended up not going.

I’d also have to learn things about London other than where it is, which is basically all I know now. Also, I know it’s been there a long time. Yeah, that’s pretty much it.

So that’s why you tip. A good way to look at it is just to add a few bucks to the price of anything that provides a service. A guideline often used here for dining out is to double the sales tax on the tab for your meal, and that’s the tip you should leave. For tour guides, if you’re doing a 2-hour tour around town, just count on five bucks extra.

Of course, you’re not expected to tip if the guide was awful, but most of us aren’t awful.

If you’re visiting from a non-tipping country, which seemed to be a helluva lot of my guests as a tour guide, here is a handy list of service positions where tips are expected:
  • Waiters and waitresses
  • Bartenders
  • Hotel bellhops, valets, housekeeping, and room service
  • TOUR GUIDES and BUS DRIVERS (We would split the tip tally 50/50 at the end of the shift.)
Yes, it’s going to cost you a small fortune to visit us, but we’re worth it.

Though sadly, most of us can't shoot fireworks out our boobs like Katy Perry.
In summation, there’s not much to being a good tour guest. Just BE NICE, FOLLOW THE RULES, DUCK, and FORK OVER SOME CASH. Then you’ll be golden!

It’s also a cool gesture to hit up one of those user-review sites and give a talented guide some good press if you’re so inclined. It won’t personally net you anything except good feelings for the karma.

One thing I'd ask.. if you do decided to write-up a user review, please only do so to praise, not to bitch. When people bitch on Yelp and stuff they generally exaggerate, which makes for a great read but it hurts all those people making a living who count on those tips I just mentioned.

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Maybe Someday

George Blagden and Travis Fimmel from
The History Channel's VIKINGS.


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Why William Shatner Won’t Follow You Back

This post is from 2013. The twitter follower counts shown are no longer accurate, but we’re sure you don’t mind and probably wouldn’t even have noticed if we hadn’t just brought it up. GAH! WE HAVE A BIG MOUTH! WHY DO WE SAY THINGS LIKE THAT? GAAAHHHH!!!!

Just so you know, he won’t follow me back either.

Especially after this post.

I’m talking about on twitter, of course, but I’m not specifically talking about William Shatner. He’s just fun to poke with a stick. This is about any celebrity or well-known person, like Jessica Alba, Taylor Swift, or His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama – who is not only on twitter, but doesn’t follow anyone back. Some Dalai Lama he is, eh?

But it’s Mr. Shatner’s frequent twitter episodes that got me to thinking about all of this, because I noticed that people were going to great lengths trying to get him to answer them, “retweet” their posts, and even follow them back.

Unless you’re some kind of celebrity or public figure like Bill or Mr. Lama, you’ve probably never had over a million twitter followers. I haven’t. But can you just imagine the avalanche of replies someone like William Shatner gets to anything he posts? I mean, seriously, he simply says “Hello Twitter!” and it’s a torrential downpour of tweets over the next few minutes.

Let’s do the math: the man has 1,310,106 twitter followers at the moment I’m writing this. This will fluctuate of course, as he’s become quite adept at the rapid-fire tapping of his “BLOCK” key, which I’m sure he keeps well-oiled and on standby at all times.

(Note to Mr. Shatner: THIS IS MY TWITTER, in case you want to go ahead and click “BLOCK” now.)

But let’s round that number down to one million (I just dissed over 300,000 Trekkies with a few keystrokes) so, even if just one percent respond to his salutation, that’s, uh.. *click click*


Like, immediately.

I think Mr. Shatner has a lot of talent but there’s just no way he’s some sort of ALPHA-celebrity who can read and respond to all ten thousand replies in a few minutes. DATA could, but Brent Spiner and Bill Shatner are merely human, like me and (presumably) you.

Each time he singles out a handful of followers for any response at all, you can bet your phasers that they’re the ones that happened to land on the screen in front of him at that moment. Out of those, the ones that are in the least bit interesting, entertaining, and/or annoying get a response.

More on those annoying ones in a minute. They sure do rattle his cage.

I actually got a response from Mr. Shatner once and, being the name-dropper from hell, I had to go and tell everyone about it. Mrs. Dave wasn’t home so “everyone” consisted of the two cats, who seemed unimpressed. To me, it was kind of like scoring a hundred-dollar hit in the state lotto, and winning the jackpot would be having him actually follow me back.

More on that later, too.

Let’s look at a couple of other celebrity tweeters for a moment, and do some more fun math. I mentioned the lovely Jessica Alba earlier; as of this writing, she has 4,877,774 followers. Let’s round UP this time, to five million, so we can put back a lot of those people we stole from Mr. Shatner.

Okay, so this means that if Jessica Alba gets on twitter and says “Hi” and one percent of her followers happen to be online at the moment and respond to her, then she will get, uh.. *click click*


That should keep her busy for a while, huh? Like.. the next few months, or years, until the great EM pulse fries all of our electronics and plunges us into a dark netherworld of apocalyptic doom and despair.

I not only follow her beautiful antics on twitter, I subscribe to her facebook page too. Although we can’t see a count of all the replies a person gets on twitter, facebook keeps a running tab of the “likes” and comments someone gets on a status update.

I'm pointing this out because I remember seeing Ms. Alba post two words one day – “So tired!” – and, within two minutes, there were 647 “likes.”

Really folks? Ya’ll like the fact that Jessica Alba is so tired? REALLY? I have no idea how many comments there were, but I’d bet it was easily over several thousand and the majority of those were probably, “Me too!”

Yes, facebook can be quite exhausting.

Okay, one more. CHECK THIS OUT:

Taylor Swift has 23,476,200 followers (as of this writing).

(2015 NOTE: Miss Tay now has FIFTY MILLION TWITTER FOLLOWERS, which is more than the population of the state of California. Also, a third of them are ex-boyfriends.)

TAYLOR: “Hi everyone!”

*click click*


That's the population of Norfolk, Virginia and it's also 229,998 more than I get on average when I go on twitter and say the same thing.

Hopefully, all of this will assuage the concerns of my trekkie friend who private-messaged me one day because he’d just spent several hours sending questions/jokes/praises to William Shatner without a response. “Dude,” he said, “do you think he’s aggravated by me? Am I bugging him?” My answer:
“You’re not even on his radar, man. If you were bugging him, he’d have blocked you and there’d be a huge black hole on your twitter where William Shatner used to be. He hasn’t seen your queries, so no worries. Either just keep trying or give it up, but don’t take it so personally.”
Speaking of “keep trying,” let’s address that.

WHY do you desperately want your celebrity pal to notice you?

Okay yeah, I did the whole Hollywood thing for a few years and I’ve told stories about meeting or working with this or that celebrity, so I’m guilty of “fame-pandering” myself. I’ve told my “ran into Anne Hathaway in Mel’s Diner just before she was famous while she was out on a date with Topher Grace and he was really nice but she was kind of uppity” story hundreds of times, usually getting a blank stare in response or at least “Oh, really? So is the food at Mel’s any good?” Then they ask me who Topher Grace is.

I’ve even posted my story about driving Gwyneth Paltrow around in a golf cart a couple of many, many times. I mean, I really annoy people with this shit, so I get it. I really do.

The thing is, who actually cares, and why? Would you try so hard to get a response from William Shatner if he hadn’t saved planet Earth so many times but was instead just a kindly, eccentric old grandfather? True, he’s a kindly, eccentric old grandfather now, but.. TRIBBLES, amirite?

What if His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was merely the 3rd or 4th Dalai Lama? Six million followers? Not likely. More like six, and they’d all be thanking him for the follow and urging him to “click this link!” so he could check out the cool apartments they have for rent in Toledo.

For some weird reason, people are attracted to fame and celebrity, and want to be a part of it – even if it’s just a tiny little part. Like that day William Shatner retweeted something I said to him so I blurted out “William Shatner just retweeted something I said to him!” to my cats, then wrote an entire blog post about it.

What a moron.

Not only do we anguish over a lack of response but we also try to get him, Jessica, or Taylor (or Mr. Lama) to retweet our cleverness to their masses and maybe, hopefully.. if God in his wisdom sees fit to smile upon us with all due benevolence today.. FOLLOW US BACK.

But here are a couple of points about that:
1. If you want to be followed, be worth following. But don’t give a darn if your celebrity idol doesn’t notice you, it’s not a big deal. There are certainly more constructive things you could do with your life than hammering away at some celebrity in a fleeting attempt to get noticed.
2. If you’d like a retweet you should say something to him/her that’s so worth retweeting, he/she will want to share it with all those people. “Good morning, Mr. Shatner, I’m eating a breakfast burrito!” probably won’t cut it.
2a. You need to be clever and/or informative. Keep in mind that he/she likely won’t see it though, which is fine. Recycle it and use it later, on someone who’s not so famous – which is everyone you know in real life.
Quit worrying about who follows you, m’kay? If any of them do, and it’s their own idea (without you asking), that’s awesome! But if they don’t, well, somebody must be following you, right? Are they paying attention to what you say? That too is awesome, even if they aren’t Captain Kirk.

And whatever you do – OH MY GOD, WHATEVER YOU DO – please don’t offer to donate to a charity if William Shatner (or anyone else) follows you on twitter. Because this really makes you look bad. I mean BLOCK bad. You might as well threaten to feed chocolate to William Shatner’s puppy if he doesn’t autograph your red shirt. Just donate to the darned charity anyway, then it’s up to you if you want to tell anyone about it – I wouldn't.

So again, be creative and worth following.

Say cool stuff.

Make ‘em LAUGH..

Above all else, be you. Because you’re the only you around, and you are exactly what some people need, famous or not. They just don’t know it yet.

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About to cross The Golden Gate Bridge on an open-top tour bus.
Photo by Douglas B. Davis.
I mentioned in Confessions of A Tour Guide: Part One that I used some skills as a tour guide that one can use in any performance venue.

Now we’ll talk about skills I’ve picked up since becoming a tour guide in San Francisco. These may not be exclusive to the city, but I can’t think of too many other jobs where they apply.

Be accurate in your presentation.

Okay, this is certainly something that applies to other jobs but it’s obviously more-than-a-little important as a tour guide.

A lot of guides here in San Francisco give walking tours. I mean A LOT. When I was out on a walking tour for my previous employer, I’d run into 4 or 5 other guides leading people around with strings of words, and the words were usually similar to the words I was leading my guests around with - but not always.

It seemed any given building might have been erected in 1915, but maybe 1922, and the name of the architect would sometimes change for the same building. That’s right, YOUR GUIDE MIGHT BE WRONG. I never was - *cough* - but you wouldn’t know it by the number of hobos who would correct me.

That was one of my favorite parts of the job. I’d be standing in Saint Mary’s Square talking about the Chinese immigrants who came during the gold rush and a very smelly, disheveled man would stumble up and either:

1. Inform me that not only did Dr. Sun Yat-sen rule The People's Republic of China in 1912, but he was also a co-founder of the Kuomintang.


2. Fart, and call me a commie.

The point is, try and be accurate. Hobos will still correct you but at least you’re giving it your best shot. Thankfully this only happened on walking tours because I have yet to meet a hobo who could run fast enough to catch up to us during the bus tours.

In part one, I mentioned a guide who billed herself as “The Best Tour Guide In The World!” which we all thought was kind of odd because she got just about everything wrong.

Example: We have this really cool building on the waterfront in San Francisco called “The Ferry Building.” It was built in 1898 and survived the famous 1906 earthquake with little structural damage.

San Francisco's Ferry Building, as seen from the bay while approaching
on a ferry. Photo by DW Rhodes.
She gave bus tours - not walking tours - and, while riding her bus one day, I heard her tell the guests, “The clock tower of The Ferry Building used to face directly down Market Street, but it shifted 20 degrees off its axis in the 1906 earthquake.”

Yeah, that is so not true.

What’s really weird about this is she wasn’t new, she’d been telling visitors this for years and no one corrected her, which is one of the reasons I’m glad to no longer be with that company.

Below is a screen-cap from a film called “A Trip Down Market Street,” where the clock tower is quite visibly shifted 20 degrees to the side, as it was originally built. The movie was made in 1906 just days before the great earthquake, which is quite obvious because all of the buildings seen in the movie, with the Ferry Building being the only exception, perished in the ensuing fire.

Still from “A Trip Down Market Street,” 1906. Public domain.
I guess “THE BEST TOUR GUIDE IN THE WORLD!” hadn’t discovered Google yet.

But she's not the only one who got things wrong. I'd actually get something wrong on occasion (gasp!) and, when someone kindly brought the error to my attention, I’d correct it and go with the latest thing I’d read/heard/seen.

So your tour guide may not always be right folks, but at least they’ll know more than you do (most of the time). Your other option would be to hire a hobo because they seem to know a lot about this city. To find one, just take a walk through downtown. They’ll find you.

Make it about the guests, not you.

There was a guide who lasted a whole eight days. I think his brevity will be self-explanatory when you see this post from his Facebook timeline:

Yes, the company said they’d kick ten bucks to any guide who got good reviews on any of the user review sites but, NO, you don’t tell guests that. Or your Facebook Friends. Or anyone. You can ask people to throw a good review up for you, if they don’t mind, and that’s fine. But paying them?

This same fellow showed up in a reply to a positive user review at Trip Advisor when he commented publicly to the guest:

Here, he's not only offering to kick back a few bucks to the guest for a positive review, but it might not have even been his tour. “Use my name and I'll send you $5..” REALLY?

This guy needs someone to gift him a nice book on ethics for his birthday.. TRUE STORY.

Actually, guests DON’T GIVE A DAMN if you get ten bucks, even if you offer to split it with them.

They just want a good tour where they learn something and have a laugh or two. Mentioning that you gladly take tips (we’ll get to that) and that you'd appreciate a nice review on Yelp should be reminders at best, but never a plea.

I know it will sound selfish, but I just had a tuna sandwich.

The selfish part is this: All I really cared about is that it was GOOD TUNA (and bread, and cheese). I don’t know which boat went out to get the tuna, or who owns the boat, or anything about the crew.

I'm not wondering if the fishermen are doing okay this year, or the dairy people, or the bakers. ALL I WANTED WAS A GOOD TUNA SANDWICH AND, BY GOLLY, THAT’S WHAT I JUST HAD. If I got a plea from the Tuna boat captain asking me to rate his tuna on Yelp, I’d probably decline to do so, and switch to turkey.

The truth is, guests are selfish - and should be. They only care about getting a good tour, they don’t care about the guide at all (unless the guide REALLY SUCKS, and then BOY, do they care!).

If you’re an open-top bus guide, LEARN TO DUCK.

Photo by DW Rhodes.
Prior to hiring on with a company that operates buses with no roof, where guests can sit up on top in the fresh air, I’d never been on one. I found out quickly that it’s a good idea to keep your head low most of the time.

There are quite a few hazards around a city like San Francisco - including low bridges, tunnels, cables and, worst of all, tree branches.

One friend and co-worker seemed to get whacked by trees a disproportionate number of times, and we all figured he just got so caught up in his tour that he’d forget anything else existed. That’s okay, I feel the same way about Scarlett Johansson.

By the third time, he’d earned himself a little concussion that came with a doctor’s note saying he shouldn’t ride around on the top of buses for a while, so they put him on walking tours as a temporary measure. But he STILL got hit by a tree, while on a walking tour. I kid you not. He was talking to his guests and getting so excited about some statue in Washington Square Park that he ran smack into a Eucalyptus.

Stay safe, kids.

Asking for and receiving tips.

This is the big one. This is the one that needs to be said, but it’s kind of like talking about the guy in the room who has a booger hanging out of his nose. It’s an uncomfortable subject, but someone should address it.

I was told while training as a tour bus guide that I should go ahead and briefly mention our willingness to receive tips at least twice during the two and a half hour tour. This was a hop-on, hop-off tour and there would likely be a whole different set of people toward the end of it than when you’d left two hours earlier, so giving tips a mention a couple of times didn’t seem excessive.

“But why mention it at all?” you may ask. Good question!

“I mean, waiters, bartenders, and cab drivers don’t keep pestering you for tips when they bring you an omelette, serve you a drink, or take you home after the bar closes, right?” Again, you make an excellent point!

“So why do you tour guides go on and on about it?”

Sweet Tap-Dancing Jesus, be quiet already and I’ll tell you!

People go out to eat a whole lot, and some people (HI, UNCLE FRANK!) go to bars a whole lot, and it’s just an accepted part of the service that you tip the staff in those places - at least here in the United States.

But people don’t go on tours a lot. Also, they’re usually so caught up in the majesty that is the Golden Gate Bridge that slipping you a five is the last thing on their mind before jumping off the bus.

My view of The Golden Gate Bridge several times each day.
Photo by DW Rhodes.
I really wish it wasn’t necessary to ask for tips, because it’s uncomfortable for the guide too, but it’s a necessity because tour companies don’t really pay any kind of living wage. Especially here in San Francisco, where the average one-bedroom rental in a decent neighborhood can run $3500.00 a month.

I live over a very noisy strip-club in a one-room apartment with my wife and I don’t pay anywhere near that amount in rent, yet my wage from the tour company seemed to barely cover rent and bills, while the tips fed us. I’d come home from a very low tip day and say, “Sorry honey, Ramen tonight.”

I spent a few years as a taxi driver in my past and I recall never having to ask for tips; I did pretty well, and I never had to worry a customer might be from a country where tipping isn’t practiced. Foreign visitors seem to know that you tip a taxi driver in the US, but they sure don’t seem to be aware of tipping when it comes to tour guides.

In the next and final post, I (very uncomfortably) address this when I talk about HOW TO BE A GOOD TOUR GUEST.

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I threw this out there on TWITTER today, just for fun..

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