I had an afternoon charter and the pickup was from the casino. I don’t really like afternoon charters much because I pick up at 1215 and the package doesn’t include lunch. Sure, they are told that and told to have an early lunch but most don’t. If they get to the pickup early, they’ll usually have a drink rather than food, and then assume they can get a sandwich later. Well, no, you can’t.
Our time schedule doesn’t allow for ordering and consuming food. Hey, don’t get pissed off with me – your organiser KNEW all of this when he/she was booking.
The Valley doesn’t do sandwiches as snacks. Maybe a foccaia or a cheese platter, if you’re luck (and if we had the time, which we don’t) but there is no quick source of food.
So, yes, what most people do is drink more to forget about being hungry and then beg me to stop off at a burger joint on the way home. Again, nope, not happening. I’m sure you are lovely people but this tour has been costed out to finish at a particular time and my boss won’t take kindly to my time sheet reflecting a blowout. Especially at Sunday rates for me. (Side note: I wonder why they never think to offer me extra money when I explain this. Same as when I decline to drop them off at myriad different venues. They’re going to have to pay for transport via cab anyway so why not see if the driver will do it? Yes, I would, if it would cover my time, which on Sundays comes in at about $8 for 15 minutes. For what it’s worth, I will always drop them off if the point is on the way of my intended route. Strictly speaking, I am not allowed to do that for free but I do anyway).
Anyway, they had all turned up on time (we always ask that they are there 15 minutes before departure time because we know that there are always late people and that way we have at least 10% chance of departing on time) and the traffic was light and we arrived in the Valley about 25 minutes before our first scheduled winery stop.
A word of explanation here. Wineries do not like taking tour buses but they do get a guaranteed revenue from them, by charging for tastings, which general public generally don’t have to do. So they take buses but they book them into allocated time slots to set aside special areas. Most tour buses run late and so arriving early for your tasting, while another group is still participating in theirs, means that you are often told to piss off. (I make a point of calling if I am going to be more than ten minutes late and I will always ask the winery staff to expedite the tasting so that schedules of everybody are not thrown off. Probably the reason why I am extremely popular in the Valley. That and I took the trouble to get my Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificate and then forwarded it to all venues so that I could legally help pour. Apparently, nobody else has bothered to do that).
So, early. I thought as I was driving along and then I asked the group if they thought it a good idea to Chocolate Factory early. I sold it by promising them extra brewery time later (so hard to drag them out of there!). I took them into the chocolate place and I encouraged them to eat as much as possible. Hello, lined stomachs.
The rest of the day went really well. They obeyed all my rules, drank lots of water and had a great time. I asked if it was a special occasion and apparently the guy who organised it had his New York girlfriend out and wanted to both introduce her to his friends and show her a good time.
She was so sweet and so interested in it all. I even made her use the bathroom at the winery that has the typical red brick outhouse, telling her it was a cultural experience. I think she loved her day. I did a little commentary and one of the guys said something afterwards that showed he’d retained some knowledge, which made me feel good. There was a moment when the first winery asked me to pour because they had other customers and one of my passengers jeeringly said, “Yeah, tell us all about this wine while you pour it!”. It was very satisfying to immediately go into a wine lecture and details of this specific one, including hours the grape skins were left in and how long it would cellar. On charters, people tend to assume that I am just a driver and my social status goes down as a result.
I had a good time, until a fight broke out in the back of the bus on the way back. Apparently, one guy had threatened another with “I’ll punch you if you tickle me again!”. 2nd guy did and said punch resulted. Things got heated. 1st guy offered to let 2nd guy take one free swing, 2nd guy said that if he did 1st guy wouldn’t get up again… the usual macho crap. The rest of the party weren’t interfering, just watching interestedly.
I hate confronting drunks. I really hate it. But I pulled the bus over to the side of the road and put my hazard lights on and turned off the music. Then I walked down the back and told everybody that a bus tour in the Swan Valley was usually only made up of adults who were legally allowed to drink and that, for safety purposes, we didn’t mix two year olds in with adults so if I was in any further doubt about underage drinkers on the bus, I would be forced to terminate their tour.
I’m pretty sure I heard ‘fat bitch’ hissed at me as I resumed my seat but there was no more fighting. I can ignore the names up to a point, if I am in the right.
They’d forgotten all about it when we reached the dropoff point and everybody was all over me, telling me what a great afternoon. American miss called me the best tour guide ever, which amused me.