Derrick Edwards is a tour guide and a self-described “informative feel-good communicator” for NYC by Foot. The two-hour walking tours are free (with a suggested donation), but do require advance booking.
Recently, on a tour of Harlem with Derrick, I got lucky and had a day of humor and insight, and added some new international friends to my Facebook family.
Derrick just finished a class in comedy and is trying his stand-up material on real people. Well, close—tourists who are English-challenged but filled with fun, wonder, big smiles and iPhones.
Here are a few highlights, in case you are thinking about a career change or an alternative for visiting guests during this stressful—oops, I mean happy—holiday season.
myNewYorkeye: Edwards… I like your last name. It feels official. So, funny man, tell us about your job.
Edwards: I work as a tour guide for NYC by Foot, which is a walking tour company. I’m a tour guide and a supervisor, designing and leading tours for guests from all over the world. I can say “There is no bathroom break” in many tongues. To be a tour guide, you have to pass a test, which is given by the Department of Consumer Affairs. It is 150 questions, and you must have a minimum of 97 correct. If you’re a knowledgeable New Yorker, you may get 65. It’s the next 30 that are the most difficult.
myNewYorkeye: So, what’s your take on the city?
Edwards: No place is like the Apple. I hit all of the neighborhoods and listen to all of the good stories, review the history, discuss current events and sample the rich array of foods. A city in flux is a funny mix. To wit, we have a large and colorful West Indian community, and that means good roti, authentic jerk chicken and creative hustlers.
Example: To get around, I sometimes hop the dollar van—that now costs two dollars—but you get the point.
myNewYorkeye: So, what are the most memorable years of your life?
Edwards: The remix was 2003. Wow, that was a good year! I made New York my home and spent that time chasing girls!
myNewYorkeye: “Chasing girls.” Well, you caught one. You are married. So, Edwards, how would you best describe yourself?
Edwards: I’m fun-loving, mischievous, talkative, caring, inquisitive and very energetic. At least that’s what my representative wants you to know about me. I also am a bit of a dreamer and slightly quick-witted.
myNewYorkeye: “Quick-witted” is good in this city. Slow-witted could get you run over! So, what are the must-haves in your daily wardrobe?
Edwards: Some clean drawers! Halfway-clean socks and comfortable pants. I can’t rock skinny jeans: too uncomfortable for me. Comfy shoes are vital and a tax write-off. I can’t forget a ball cap. I have a good hat head and I look good in them.
myNewYorkeye: I agree about your hat. You have a hat head. OK, I think these free tours are perfect for out-of-town guests. Anything else that you might want to add, besides that tipping is encouraged.
Edwards: You are right; this is a good time to add a tour to your “new” holiday tradition. So many of us have holiday guests, and we need creative ways to keep them happy and keep ourselves sane. So, think about your own peace of mind and check out our tours at the website for New York City by Foot. It’s free. We do, however encourage tips. It’s the holiday season, so spread some cheer and we will keep your house guests entertained for two whole hours!
For more information, visit www.freetoursbyfoot.com/nyc/.