Zoë Kessler, ADHD Tour Guide?

Your Tour Will Begin Whenever I Get There. Photo ©Zoë Kessler, 2006

I once lived on a 150-acre farm. Although the property was resplendent in its natural beauty, here and there along the hiking path were remnants of the property’s history.

On the right was a huge, rusted metal wagon wheel ring; several meters along on the left, an abandoned kitchen sink nestled amongst the jewelweed.

During one such walk, I spontaneously started to narrate, “…and on our right we see an example of the first primitive hula-hoop, used by farm kids during their rare moments of leisure…”

I continued to riff, making up stories, anecdotes, and histories for each abandoned object. I made up names and properties for plants. I was on a roll.

Bona fide guides

Today, the 2012 Olympics begin; and with them, an army of newly-minted Blue Badge Tour Guides hit the streets of London, England.

As I listened to a documentary about these highly-trained professionals, I was reminded of my impromptu, untrained, improvisational stint as a Forest Tour Guide.

Tour guiding as an extreme sport?

Even the Blue Badge training sounds cool. Like an extreme sport, it requires stamina and hyper-focus (something we’re great at, right?!).

Training also takes lots of alone time, walking or biking, learning the stories, practicing your schtick. Considering how much time I already spend talking aloud to myself, at least this would make me legit.

Apparently most guides today are multilingual, as am I:  I have NSL (Normal-as-a-Second-Language), and un peu de français.

So for all you ADHDers considering a career move, let’s ponder the pros and cons of being an ADHD Tour Guide.

10 ADHD Pros of a Tour Guide Career

1 ) Lots of walking (exercise: one of the best ADHD treatments)

2 ) Multi-tasking (walking, talking, lookin’ good, and pointing)

3 ) You get to yell and excitedly point at stuff and not get in trouble for it

4 ) Adrenaline rush of performing before a live audience

5 ) Control: you choose (from a huge amount of details) what to focus on in your banter

6 ) Unpredictability: you’re dealing with the public (i.e. – no boredom!)

7 ) Use your drama queen mojo to earn a living (tourists want juicy human-interest stories about love, betrayal, death; NOT dates, according to one professional guide) Yay!

8 ) Get paid to be enthusiastic, charming, and exciting

9 ) Employ your hawkeye attention to detail (one guide said they can get too finicky about details)

10 ) Best of all: you’re paid to talk!

10 ADHD Cons of a Tour Guide Career

1 ) I’m pretty sure you won’t be allowed to make stuff up

2 ) …which means you’ll need a memory

3 ) You’ll probably  have to show up on time for the tour

…or else

4 ) You’ll need to overcome being directionally-challenged

5 ) Getting distracted and changing the tour from a museum to a mall tour might be frowned upon

6 ) Rapid-fire speech while excited won’t be effective

7 ) Flirting with the tourists is probably taboo

8 ) You’ll need to remember your umbrella (ha! Like that’s gonna happen! And you can’t share with the cute Brazilian tourist; see #7 above)

9 ) Hyperfocusing on your favorite painting and forgetting where you are or what you were doing will seem less-than-professional

10 ) Impulsive tasteless jokes about the Queen’s bush could get you in trouble


Is a Tour Guide career for you? To help you decide, please take a tour of the points listed above. If you read like me, you need to read them over again anyway. Good luck!


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