Sharing the Knowledge

I am very lucky to live in Tofino. It is by far one of the most beautiful places in BC if not in Canada. I am also very lucky to work for Tourism Tofino. The people I work for are so wonderful. They let me come back every summer and slide right back in where I left off, and they’ve put a lot of trust in me over the last three years.Hell, they were willing to hire a girl to work at the Tofino Information Center who had only been to Tofino once. For five days.

Brave people, these Tofitians.

Luckily, Tofino is a very, very small town. The downtown core looks a little something like this:

image from tofinotime.com

Yup. That’s about it. Don’t come to me and tell me you’re lost, because I will sigh and think a little less of you. “Downtown” is about four blocks by three blocks. There is only one road in and one road out. Unlike those poor people working for Tourism Vancouver who have to learn every single little thing about the entire city of Vancouver, I really only have to know this tiny peninsula, right?

Wrong.

Being that it is a small town, and everyone knows who you are, you have to know everything. I have to know the difference between riding on a zodiac and a big two level honker of a boat. I have to know which whale watching companies take kids or pregnant women, and which are wheelchair accessible. I need to know which restaurants offer gluten free food. I need to know the exact price of a  National Parks Pass for one day or the whole year. I need to know the tides every single day. I need to know what you can do on a rainy day with a three year old.

I need to be able to tell you where you can camp for free (you can’t).

I also need to be able to find you accommodation for nine people and two dogs in the middle of July (for under $200 a night and on the beach, thanks).

I need to help you find a justice of the peace for your sudden elopement, or a local jeweler who will have an engagement ring because you decided at the last minute to propose.

I need to know what to do with a box of baby grouse that a German couple dropped off after they hit the grouse momma.

Yeah, that happened. You know what you do? You find someone with hens. Hens who recently had chicks. You put the baby grouse with the momma hen and hope she thinks they’re her babies. And pray the roosters don’t eat the baby grouse.

Then you ask yourself why those Germans don’t learn about the circle of life, and why they didn’t just let the poor baby grouse run free. Sure, they would have probably died, but now I’m trying to convince a hen that those tiny birds that look like grouse are most certainly not grouse, and that she should love them as her own.

When I accepted the job, that was not in the job description!

Luckily, I know the answer to all of these things. My first summer was an eye opener, that’s for sure. In one single day, I had to call an ambulance for a squatter living behind the info center who had ‘exposure’, was abandoned by a co-worker who “was just not in the mood to work” and then was handed the infamous box of baby grouse. All within eight hours.

My job is never dull, I can say that much. And I honestly love it. Sure, there are situations that I hate. I hate it when people show up ten minutes before closing looking for a hotel under for $100 a night for four people on the May long weekend. I hate it when people ask “what’s there to do here?”.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You are the butt end of the biggest practical joke in Canada. We send tourists out to the middle of nowhere, as far west as they can go, tell them it’s amazing and then snicker as they drive away. Silly tourists.

Oh, the things I say in my head, the things that will never pass my lips.

But don’t think my job is all crazy people and baby grouse. I have met so many interesting, nice, funny people in the three summer I have worked at the info center. Edward James Almos was a fun one and Colin’s favorite star sighting. Sam Sullivan came in last summer, he asked me about the wheelchair accessible whale watching (say that five times fast). Owen Wilson waved to me, Pam Anderson ate breakfast right next door. Reba McEntire told me my boss’s baby was adorable as she sipped iced tea at Sobo next to me.

Then I fainted and died and came back to life to say thank you, she’s not mine, but she’s a real sweetheart, isn’t she?

At the end of the day, it’s the best job in the world. Sure, it’s got more than it’s fair share of crazy, but that makes it fun.

Crazy = fun. Tourism Tofino’s new slogan.

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