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Critique if you must, but spare a kind word for your trolley tour guide

Thank you to Joan Wickersham for spotlighting the trolley tour industry in her column “The inanity trail” (Op-ed, Oct. 4). Her criticism is honest but not complete.

Trolley guides are expected to be caring, knowledgeable, interesting, funny, and always happy while handling interruptions from traffic, passengers, pedestrians, skateboarders, and cyclists for about 10 hours straight — all while keeping on schedule. It’s not as easy as Wickersham might think to wrangle folks of every language who are hopping on and off at every stop or waving you down between stops into a single group, and give a high-quality tour.

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Good performances often take place in theaters where lights are dimmed and there is observable respect for the action. It takes unusual poise to be a good trolley tour guide.

My co-workers and I cringed at the truthfulness of Wickersham’s description of the inanity that results in some cases. But the conclusion of her piece paints the tour guide as the image of an industry without possibility of nuance. I’m sure that, in general, she tries to make her opinion pieces as honest and relevant as I try to make my trolley tours.

Jon Cotton

Cambridge

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