Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Daily Storytime.

A follow up on the blog from May 6th.

Today, from an elderly gentleman named Fred, I heard the life story of Thomas Alva Edison. Apparently Fred lives in Ft. Myers, Florida which is where Mr. Edison summered. He knows all about his inventions, his family history, and shockingly, more stories about people related to Thomas Edison. I don't even think this gentleman had a question to ask me. He just wanted to talk about Thomas Edison.

It reminds me of those public service annoucements that NBC used to do that ended with the phrase "The More You Know" sung by a pretty voice. Their implication that the more you know, the better off you are. They were usually about drugs or not talking to strangers, but knowing about good ol' Tom is beneficial too, in my opinion.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Magnet

I think one of my favorite parts of this job is the random stories I get to hear. The perps are generally elderly men, young wives, or women travelling together. This week alone I have:

1) Heard the story of a family originating from Sussex, England, who came over and started Bermuda Hundred (near Chesterfield Co. in Richmond) and their progressive family developments from 1780 on. After the story I was sent on a search for a weaving loom that the family brought over with them and donated to my alma mater. The gentleman I spoke with was quite dismayed that I wasn't familiar with his family's loom and asked if I would be kind enough to locate where it was on display. About 10 calls and 3 hours later, I had spoken with every Colonial Wiliamsburg operator on the switchboard, (confused half of them, and supremely annoyed the other half) 3 museum curators and one collection director and none of them had any idea what I was talking about. I finally got the e-mail of a curator of objects at William and Mary and I am awaiting her reply. (Update: she has not replied a week and a half later. Perhaps finding this loom isn't a priority. Can't imagine what else she'd do with her time.)

2) Been regaled with the entire chronological account of one gentleman's 43-year service in the Navy, as well as the fatal flaws of modern naval strategy as compared to mid-20th century tactics.

3) Been warned against moving to a rural area because of drug manufacturers' proclivity to remoteness. (3 cautionary tales involving meth labs, fields of marijuana, and the merits of having a volunteer neighborhood patrol). This same person, in the same conversation, (actually, it was one-sided, so diatribe is more apropos) spoke to the merits of population control and how she thought we should implement it stateside. "China's got the right idea"

4) Heard the story of how 3 different couples have met. (These were the easiest to sit and listen to.)

I also like when husbands and wives make fun of each other for their priorities when on vacation in front of me. This often arises when people see the brochures for one of several things. For the women, it's either Prime Outlets or Yankee Candle. For the men it's either golf or the Bass Pro Shop.

"Ugh, we are NOT going to Yankee Candle."

"But honey, this here says that they just released three new scents!" (At this point it's up to me whether I want to jump in and ruin the husband's chances of getting away without going there, or if I let it go and just offer directions. Usually, if I say even one small factoid about what else they have at the Yankee Candle store, or even just mention that it is the flagship store for the company, the strength of the wife's determination reaches new, and inevitably insurmountable levels.)

"Oh I just have to try them. We've got some time, let's go right now." And what she doesn't say, but is definitely thinking, is: "This is pay back for you playing golf EVERY DAY."

I have conquered the screams of children when they find out Busch Gardens isn't open by keeping a jumbo bag of starburst in my desk as well as coloring books with color pencils. Infants are generally entertained if I give them a brightly colored piece of paper to look at, which they usually end up chewing on.

The one thing I haven't been able to figure out is how to not get annoyed by pushy, abrasive people from the Northeast, and how to deal with people who come here on vacation but do not want to do anything historical. Patience, grasshopper. Patience.

Past Entries