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Finding Meaning Off and On the Sidewalk: Walking tour guides and their untidy careers
Unformatted Document Text:  tours as to not have to pay guides. Even still, some freelance guides found a way to survive. Harry Matthews described to me how members of the GANYC helped fellow guides find government assistance. One particularly insistent member fought through the bureaucracy and discovered “Disaster Relief for the Self-Employed.” She gave guides explicit instructions at Association meetings and through GANYC’s newsletter, Guidelines, enabling many to receive invaluable funds. According to the newsletter, having a business address in the southern region of Manhattan was originally required for assistance, but many independent guides like Mr. Matthews learned through GANYC how to argue that, while their address wasn’t on the streets of Lower Manhattan, their business was. Much of the testimony from the 2003 City Hall hearing described the more rigorous exam as an insult to the injuries already inflicted by September 11 th . Many noted this perceived lack of appreciation on the part of the city government for what they saw as their significant help in city boosterism in the months after the World Trade Center attack. ‘Professionals’ or not, they felt their services were critical to the health of the city. Bus guide Andy Sydor spoke of how he and his fellow guides, like many New Yorkers, wanted to help the city the best they could. In his prepared announcement he stated: When the attack on September 11 th occurred several of our members were already on the road; one of our buses passed literally underneath the flight path of one of the attacking jets. Later that same bus stopped to take on people fleeing the site, helping them back to mid-town. Since our buses are garaged in Hoboken, those buses were later pressed into service ferrying refugees from Weehawken to the Hoboken Train Terminal. I myself did voluntary service on one of those buses for several runs. I did this for no pay, and not knowing if I was ever going to work as a guide again. (…) Again, we did this because we were asked by the city to do so. But in this past year and a half we have not heard anything back from the city, no thanks, no response, no reward. 15

Authors: Wynn, Jonathan.
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tours as to not have to pay guides. Even still, some freelance guides found a way to survive. 
Harry Matthews described to me how members of the GANYC helped fellow guides find 
government assistance.  One particularly insistent member fought through the bureaucracy 
and   discovered   “Disaster   Relief   for   the   Self-Employed.”   She   gave   guides   explicit 
instructions at Association meetings and through GANYC’s newsletter, Guidelines, enabling 
many to receive invaluable funds. According to the newsletter, having a business address in 
the   southern   region   of   Manhattan   was   originally   required   for   assistance,   but   many 
independent guides like Mr. Matthews learned through GANYC how to argue that, while 
their address wasn’t on the streets of Lower Manhattan, their business was.
Much of the testimony from the 2003 City Hall hearing described the more rigorous 
exam   as   an   insult   to   the   injuries   already   inflicted   by   September   11
th
.   Many   noted   this 
perceived lack of appreciation on the part of the city government for what they saw as their 
significant   help   in   city   boosterism   in   the   months   after   the   World   Trade   Center   attack. 
‘Professionals’ or not, they felt their services were critical to the health of the city. Bus 
guide Andy Sydor spoke of how he and his fellow guides, like many New Yorkers, wanted 
to help the city the best they could. In his prepared announcement he stated:
When the attack on September 11
th
 occurred several of our members 
were already on the road; one of our buses passed literally underneath the 
flight path of one of the attacking jets. Later that same bus stopped to take on 
people fleeing the site, helping them back to mid-town. Since our buses are 
garaged  in Hoboken, those  buses  were later  pressed into  service  ferrying 
refugees   from   Weehawken   to   the   Hoboken   Train   Terminal.   I   myself   did 
voluntary service on one of those buses for several runs. I did this for no pay, 
and not knowing if I was ever going to work as a guide again.
(…) Again, we did this because we were asked by the city to do so. 
But in this past year and a half we have not heard anything back from the 
city, no thanks, no response, no reward.
15


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