Stay-at-home mom of three Mrs. Florence Waters regularly trades her minivan for a WWII amphibious vehicle and her kids for a group of tourists who want to see the city via the venerable Boston Duck Tours (bostonducktours.com). Flo took a break from splashing into the Charles to tell us what it’s really like to be a ConDUCKtor.
1.How does a nice mom like you end up driving a DUCK?
A nice mom winds up driving a duck when her entire life blows up at 37, with three small kids. She flounders from odd job to odd job while kids are in school until she’s approached by a guy who thinks she’s funny and he escorts me to the audition – saving my sanity and my kid’s sanity.
2. How do you become a ConDUCKtor? Is there a road test/interview/audition?
The first step is to go in for an audition in front of the drivers and owner (a la American Idol). It’s very nerve-wracking! There is lots of comedic improv and theatrical exercises you go through. It’s honestly one of the scariest things I have had to go through. You leave the audition and pray to get a callback. If you get a callback, you sit with all the owners, answer questions, and pray they like you. I’m 6’2” and I wore a ridiculous tutu so they wouldn’t forget me.
3. Many parents begrudge driving a minivan, yet you’re driving an enormous WW II-style amphibious vehicle. Is it hard to maneuver?
The DUKW, believe it or not, is easier to drive than my minivan. You get very used to all the mirrors, unlike my minivan, which is like driving a living room.
4. Is there much difference between driving groups of tourists through the streets and waters of Boston and ferrying your children around (other than the fact you get paid for the former)? Who’s better behaved?
I much prefer driving complete strangers around for several reasons. They don’t talk back, take my money, generally don’t leave trash after they leave, or treat me like I’m their personal slave. Last, but not least, I don’t have to lean back and break up fights while focusing on the road. Being in my DUKW is much safer than being in my van.
5. What’s the most surprising aspect about being a ConDUCKtor?
The most surprising thing about my job is how easy it is for me and how much I love it. Being at home is 1,000x more difficult than being at work. Being a stay-at-home mom is the most challenging job I’ve ever had. Before kids, I drove a UPS truck and that was also a piece of cake. Hats off to stay-at-home parents!
6. What’s the funniest/ oddest question you’ve ever been asked?
The weirdest question I’ve ever been asked? That’s a tough one. When I am out on the water with the DUKW, people sometimes ask if I’m really driving or is it on a track. Some ask, “How do you do this tour everyday?” thinking I do one tour a day. I say, “Oh, no, I’ve got four more tours to go” and they almost pass out. They also ask if my accent is real, and I get, “How tall are you?” a lot.
7. What’s your favorite part of the tour?
Favorite part of the tour is when it’s over! Just kidding — I love the tour. I love the water portion the most. You cannot beat the amazing views of Boston and Cambridge skylines from the river. I won’t bring a tour back until every guest has laughed so hard they couldn’t stop. I love to see people laugh.
8.If you could choose any passenger to be on your tour, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one! Maybe the future Mr. Flo Waters? If he exists?