He came on my tour which I was doing for a free tour company. That means the tour is based on tips only and regardless of the amount you are given, you still need to pay the company for each and every participant a fixed fee. Capitalism at its peak and a cheat considering everyone is told they can pay nothing.
He had been on a free tour in the Old Town with me the previous day for which he gave me a hundred and fifty crowns. It’s nothing special but it is ok, you can have a snack and a coffee in Prague for that if you know where to go. The group for the “free” castle tour was different. I only realized, too late, that I should not have taken them at all. It was a bus full of college students with their teacher, oh no, it dawned on me, they were going to give me some tip collectively, peanuts in other words as if I was a monkey. To add to that a young man came asking if he could observe my tour, because my boss had sent him to watch as he is supposed to do the same tour too. Alex was his name.
So great, the tour started with me being irritated and nervous. Nervous of the “spy” and irritated by the vision of peanuts in my hand at the end and by a guy who clearly liked me, that is why he came again and would even wink at me from time to time. However, I soon got into it, I always do, Prague is so gorgeous, its history so interesting that it swallows me like a raspberry as we Czechs say. At the main gate of the castle during the ceremony of the changing of the guard I made friends with the “spy” too. He was actually very nice, he seemed to be pure and innocent like water from a stream in the woods but he had the constitution of a sakura tree at the same time. I could also see the interest of the visitors rising literally with each stop and talk so the tour was perfect.
Then the end came and it spoiled everything. The whole bus of happy students and teachers from Germany valued their appreciation of my perfect tour at 400 crowns while I already knew I had to give 1140 crowns to the company which wouldn’t give a flying shot about me. The guy who had been on a free tour with me already, gave me nothing. He just asked: “What are you doing for lunch?” and I, despite being like a lamb in normal times, snapped back: “Well, you’re taking me for one!” knowing I technically should not eat for two days to save the money I owed the company for getting up, going to work and performing a high quality two hour tour. “It was my idea too, though,” Alex added and so we decided to go to my favourite restaurant all together.
Sitting down, having our meal we had an interesting chat. My tourist – Paul was his name – even asked me how free tours worked and I told him that because of that day’s outcome I was ruined. Later I retreated to the bathroom to let the guys sort out the bill. Soon after Alex left us and we got up and left shortly after him. Outside, Paul thanked me for the great tours and told me there were depths in me exactly as he had expected. “Thank you for your compliments. And thank you for the meal,” I replied. “Oh, you don’t have to,” Paul said, “Alex paid.” Flabbergasted, I just stammered: “Well, at least, write me a review on TripAdvisor. That increases my chances of work.” “I will. When I have time I will do,” answered Paul. His review never arrived. So for two free tours and one free meal this was my ultimate reward. Standing in Goat Street I felt exactly like one. Not like an educated, well performing professional but like a silly goat.