Sometimes, when you’re working in this living history museum, you feel like you’re an animal at the zoo. For whatever reason, some people suspend normal ways people treat other people and develop an entirely new method of dealing with employees. There are several things that I see people commonly doing that I’ve never experienced outside of this work environment. Some of them, I understand. Others, no so much.
Smile for the camera
I have no problem taking pictures. In general, at work, no biggie. I love photos. But there’s something that irks me when I’m doing something and I look up and notice that my photo has just been taken by some adult across the room. Pictures of me scratching my nose, yawning, concentrating, and doing otherwise unflattering things have landed themselves into countless strangers’ scrapbooks and photo albums. You wouldn’t just take a stranger’s photo while out on the street. So why take all these photos on the sly, just because these strangers are wearing certain outfits?
“Do you know where Spencer is?!”
I was once walking to work when a woman on her cell phone turned to me and loudly demanded to know where Spencer was. I didn’t answer her at first because I wasn’t sure that she was talking to me, but when she asked me again, where Spencer Chestnut was, I realized that she was indeed addressing me. I told her that I had no idea who that was. And the lesson that she needed to learn from this was that just because I was in costume does not mean that I have a personal relationship with everyone else that’s in costume. There are hundreds of CWF employees and volunteers. Not everyone knows each other.
Point A to Point B
One time I decided to go on a date in costume. It was after the late shift and I forgot to bring all of my proper clothes to change into. So I thought, why not just head to Merchant Square in my colonial clothes? And so I did. I walked around with my date a little afterward and got stopped by no less than 3 people. I’m usually more than happy to stop and talk to people when I’m in costume, but come on, dude. I was clearly not on the clock and with someone out of costume. People were also asking me questions about non-CWF matters that I wouldn’t have even known had I not also been a tour guide and someone that’s grown up in Williamsburg.
Just because I’m in costume doesn’t mean that I’m public property. Putting on a bunch of layers of uncomfortable clothes doesn’t mean that you own me, I owe you a history lesson, directions, or entertainment. Working in costume is my job, not my lifestyle. And just because I’m wearing stays doesn’t make me an expert on everything or your personal tour guide.