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Tag: asking

Ask, Part 2

photo of Ireland's old House of Lords, in the Bank of Ireland building

Phillip, a tall-case clock, & me

(If you haven’t read the 9/29/13 blog post,
Ask and You Shall Receive, this one
won’t make much sense until you do.)

I’m telling you, this asking gig works like magic.

Today, we popped over to Dublin. After checking into our hotel, we beat feet to our first planned destination: The Bank of Ireland. Sounds fascinating, huh?

Actually, it is. The Bank of Ireland has some pretty cool digs, namely the building which used to house the Irish Parliament before they disbanded to become part of the Parliament in London. (Not a very good idea, they later discovered, but there you go. Hindsight’s usually spot-on.)

When the Irish Parliament disbanded, they no longer needed such a grand building and sold it to the Bank of Ireland. The bank Mucky-Mucks immediately dismantled half of it, turning that bit into bank offices. But thankfully, they kept the other half – the House of Lords – to use as a meeting room (a very grand, knock-your-socks-off meeting room, as is the main room where ordinary bank patrons stand in line for a teller).

According to my pre-trip research, short informal tours are given every Tuesday at three scheduled times. So, we showed up today – Tuesday – for the 11:30 tour.

You know
where I’m headed with this.

“Not today. No tours today, as the bank personnel are having meetings all day, tomorrow, the next day, too.”

Here comes the aw-shucks, we-came-all-the-way-from-Colorado routine that, by now, we’re getting pretty darn good at. And it worked – again. A very nice security cop named Phillip said, “Oh, tell you what. It’s leven-terty now. I take my lunch at 12. Why don’t you coom back at 1:00, when the meeting’s adjourned for two hours, and I’ll take you ’round?”

Phillip is way more than a security guard, as it turns out. He gave us the history of the 1831 tapestries, still hanging in the House of Lords turned board meeting room. He pointed out plenty of other historical bits – behind roped off areas – and then handed us off to an equally chatty colleague who offered more historical tidbits.

So. Once again, dear ones, on a day when “no tours are being given,” we received a private tour . . . simply because we asked.

See how this works? I do hope you’re paying attention. Ask and you very likely will receive. Don’t ask and you very likely won’t receive. It’s just that simple.

© 2013, Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text of old Chinese proverb: "Man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time."

Don’t you love old Chinese proverb humor?

Ask and you shall receive.

Asking at Chatsworth

Chatsworth & Emperior Fountain

Chatsworth & the showy Emperor Fountain

A few days ago, we toured Chatsworth in the Peaks District of England with its acres of rooms and baubles. (What an enormous pile!) We were humming along just fine when, about mid-way through our tour, all that tea and water I’d consumed for breakfast began desperately looking for an escape route.

BUT, I had been virtuously paying attention when we’d been told in no-nonsense terms that ALL visitors MUST use the public toilets in the separate block of buildings, as there are NO public toilets inside Chatsworth. Sensing my concern, my husband said, “Just ask one of the guides; surely they can help.” To which I replied, “Are you kidding? You heard what they told us.” To which he replied, “Just ask.”

See what a wise man I married?

Summoning up my best aw-shucks, toe-in-the-sand, American demeanor, I timidly approached the nearest, uniformed guide, and asked apologetically, “I suppose there really are no toilets for the public in here?” (This, incidentally, is not how you ask for things – not if you expect to get them.)

With a kind nod of understanding, she sent me ahead of the group, down the hall, to the right, to a waiting guide who’d been alerted via walkie-talkie. This angel of mercy led me down more halls until we arrived in one of those eight-foot thick passageways trimmed with lovely wood paneling. Discreetly opening one of those “panels,” my angel of mercy exposed a very small, nondescript door, and behind it was – ta-da – a secret toilet! YES!

Now, if I’d just thought about this for one minute, I would’ve realized that, of course, there are public toilets inside Chatsworth.* We were touring with hundreds – HUNDREDS – of other tourists. I’m telling you, this place is huge. Of all those hundreds, ALL of them will be able to go through a three-hour tour (yes, three) with no toilet break? Of course not. Not wanting the paying public to piddle on their posh carpets, they do, indeed, have public toilets. They just happen to be hidden toilets – and you have to ask specifically for them.

Asking at Heath House

Heath House from the old tennis courts

Heath House from the old tennis courts

Heath House is closed for the season.” That’s what the website said. Nevertheless, just a few days ago my husband and I received a private tour by the new owner who inherited the family pile about two years ago. What richness in his touring narrative!

“Closed for the season” turns out to be a rather nebulous statement. Maybe it’s closed. Maybe it isn’t. I’d emailed back in August – before leaving the States – and asked if there might be a group tour during our holiday dates that we could join. The OWNER and I then exchanged emails in which he regretted there were no group tours we could join, but would a private, informal tour by him “suit”?

 I asked, and he said “yes.” See how this works?

Asking at Arley Hall

Arley Hall on Wedding Fair Day

Arley Hall on a no-tours Wedding Fair Day

We tried unsuccessfully to see this grand house last Sunday. Determined, we came back this Sunday – only to be told they’re having Arley Hall Wedding Fair Day and “no house tours are being given.”

“But, gosh, we came all the way from Colorado. We bought Historic Houses Association memberships to ensure we could get in. We tried to see it last Sunday and couldn’t. We called ahead, and your phone message said nothing about the Wedding Fair. Isn’t there some way we could have a tour?”

“Tell you what,” says the no-tours guy with the walkie-talkie, “how about I call ahead and get one of the guides to give you a private tour after she finishes up with one of the brides? Can you wait a bit till she’s free?”

Bingo. Bango. An hour later, we were being guided through Arley Hall by a very knowledgeable guide who’d grown up in the area, went to school in the Arley Estate school, and had plenty of personal-touch information to share with us. On a day when “no house tours are being given,” we had a private tour.

Okay, so we’re brassy Americans.
But there’s
a pay-attention tidbit here, too.

Our Chatsworth, Heath House, and Arley Hall experiences are a collective metaphor for life in general. If your request is reasonable (as each of ours were), state your case and ask. It’s very likely you’ll receive a cheery “yes.” Even if you have an unreasonable request but you ask with enough charm and finesse, you might also get a cheery “yes.”

Of course, we don’t always receive a “yes” just because we ask. Sometimes, we receive a “no.” But this much I know: if we don’t ask, we almost certainly will NOT receive.

Pay attention to all the rules, as we did. Acknowledge the “no ______,” then go ahead and ask anyway. Just be really, really, really nice when you do it.

*This business of finding public restrooms can be tricky while you’re touring a foreign country. Check out my post The Loo on my blog, CheapTouring, to garner some more tips on this very necessary bit of living – regardless of where you happen to be.

© 2013, Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text of quote by W. Clement Stone: "If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means ask!"

Wise words from a bootstrap kinda guy

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