I wish I could say that I was shocked after reading this week’s blog post and articles, but unfortunately, I somewhat expected this level of stupidity and ignorance, especially in light of this week’s topic: Ethical Dilemmas. Out of all of the articles, I took the most issue with the situation at the Baron Von Munchausen Historic Home. Having worked as a tour guide, I could relate with Larry Cebula’s reactions. Tours, regardless of the location, historic or not, are meant to be informative and entertaining, but they have to be accurate! On many occasions when I was a tour guide I would have guests come up to me and question what they heard on my tour, saying that they had taken the Celestial Seasonings tour before and other tour guides said _______ about ________. (This happened enough times that I do not have just one example, thus my reasoning for using “Blank”). I would kindly and gently explain to them that what they heard before was an exaggeration or was untrue. While some guests felt affronted and taken off guard by this new information, the majority of them thanked me providing accurate information and seemed eager to verify other facts that they had remembered from previous visits to the facility. My reaction to these encounters, however, was a bit different. The first time this happened, I was rather shocked, especially in light of the fact that all tour guides received the same 80 page “script” and manual and that we were supposed to take all of our information from that document. I can say it was not a pleasant position to be in. That being said, I can understand that the docents who volunteer at the Baron Von Munchausen Historic Home might have been unaware of the inaccuracies in their own tour. However, once Cebula politely confronted the Historic Home’s staff about these blatant inaccuracies in interpretation, I expected the home to respond with a little more tact.
The written response that Cebula received made me cringe. Aside from the blatant misspellings, poor grammar, and awkward sentence structure that plagued this letter (all of which, by the way, contribute to making the writer seem less than intelligent. How is she in charge of this place if she cannot write?!) her defensive stance was uncalled for. This approach might have been appropriate had Cebula tone been nasty or abrasive or had written a letter condemning the home or the people working there. But he did not. He was simply trying to bring to light his concerns regarding the interpretation. It is very frustrating to know that many of the inaccuracies or misinterpretations at historic sites are the result of directors/managers who are simply incompetent. What is even more alarming is that these kinds of people still have jobs.