Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 65 - Guiding

It may not be a good idea to be unemployed and reading books about guiding. Somehow it just seems like a bad idea, like when as a kid my brother and I played toad baseball in the parking lot of our church (I know... that is really bad and I'm still repenting of that sin). Maybe this guiding notion doesn't carry with it the ethical and moral undertones as toad baseball, but it still has that sickly sweet feeling that it would be fun on some level.

Last Sunday when I took my wife out fishing, I jokingly told her that I would be her guide for the day. Part of the guide's role is to teach. The other part is to put them on fish. I hope that I accomplished the first, and pretty sure I managed the second. She did tie on a fly at one point, so I think I managed the first as well. I didn't mind standing by her side, coaching her through the process. I netted the fish, unhooked the fish, held the fish up for admiration, and gently released the fish back into the stream. My reward for this? It was the joy of seeing her face when she hooked a big one.

I know that this is different from an actual paying customer. Expectations are different. With my wife, if I didn't put her on fish that would have been OK. Not so much if my client hadn't caught a fish. With my wife I could share the experience of fishing with her, but with a customer it was about providing that experience.

Still, I think I could handle it some days. Customer service is a huge part of being a guide, or at least I imagine it to be. I've worked in the retail and service industry my entire life. I've washed windows in Denver and I have sold shoes in Iowa. They all fall back on the same principles of wanting the customer to feel comfortable.

Yet, customer service is only part of the equation. Results are the other part. I can't imagine a guide being very successful if his/her client didn't catch a big fish now and then (even if they made the client feel exceptionally well). I can't imagine how it would be on a long day on the water, no fish landed, and then telling the customer that will be $300 and then also expect a tip. It happens, I'm sure of it. But I would be willing to bet that a guide might offer a discount the next time around, just to keep a customer.

Yet, while I think I might be a good guide, maybe I just like the idea of being a rogue angler that gets paid to be on the stream. I don't know if I could really hack being a guide if I were truly honest with myself. Besides the inconsistent money thing, you still have this feeling of being a servant (at least that was the way I felt when I washed windows). Plus, I imagine that is pretty much a manual labor job, that not only requires strength but also requires one to be able to navigate a stream, look for fish, maintain a good drift, and net a fish all at the same time. With time I might be able to do that, but I think I'd prefer to be the person casting versus the person netting.

Maybe I'll just stick to writing about fishing. If I do it correctly it might even bring about an opportunity to go fish someplace, write about the experience, and then get paid. Now that would be nice.

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