I work in the District of Columbia, in one one of the hottest spots for these spring and summer cicada like creatures. They start to appear much like the 17 year annoyances - first a few pop out after the break of winter. Then they start to multiply exponentially and before you know it they are swarming all over, bumping into you, chirping and buzzing about with the ooh's and aah's of surprised wonderment.
"Ooh, look Jethro! A three story building! They sure don't have those back home! Quick take a picture of me near this wacky sign! It says... meee... maa... meee? What's a meet-ro?"
There's so much to hate about tourists. Where do I begin?
- Well there's the fact that nothing is more annoying on my morning subway commute than having tourists snapping pictures of each other and of the train and of the station names with their little green disposable cameras.
- Then, they want to stand on the left hand side of the escalator when they can clearly see those of us with briefcases and workbags marching up the left side to get to our offices.
- Then there is the fact that once they come above ground they just stop at random intervals to stare at nothing in particular! They just figure, I'm sightseeing, so everything else in the world should stop so I can stare at the cloud in the sky that looks like Spiro Agnew. I just want to scream - "Move your ass out the walkway so we can go where we have to go!"
- Then there's the fact that when the boys and girls club from east Doo-Wah-Diddy, Idaho wants to go into a restaurant or building - the chaperones just let the kids pile up in the middle of the sidewalk completely blocking it off from those of us trying to get back from our little 10 minute lunch at Pot Bellies! I've gotten to the point now where I just walk right through them saying, "Make way! I'm carrying explosives!" (That scares the shit out of most of those kids! I love to do that!!!)
- But my biggest biggest biggest gripe is simply - I hate the way tourists treat us DC regulars. They treat us as if we are part of the scenery, part of the experience. They walk in front of us, cut us off, expect us to wait minutes at a time while they get uncle Jimbo in focus on their camcorders. The kids run into us without saying, "Excuse me." I think to most tourists, they just see each other. The rest of us are drones, shadows and phantoms that make DC... Well...DC.
Seeing the behavior of these yearly visitors has made me try hard to keep in mind the way I treat people when I visit a new place. I try to remember that everybody is a somebody, maybe they're going to work when I'm in Vegas; maybe they are going to school when I'm in LA; maybe they're just enjoying a day off in the park when I'm in New York. I have to remember that they are unique individuals that happen to live, work and play in the town that I am visiting and they are worthy of a "Hello." or a "Hey, how's it going?" - but they are not part of the backdrop, they are not sprinkles of salt on my french fries. They are people.
(Make Exxon pay for the Valdez! It's been 17 years and not one cent of the $5 billion court settlement has been paid to the victims of the worst oil spill in history. Even after $36 billion in 2005 profits, the greedy bastards behind Exxon still thumb their noses at the destroyed lives and lifestyle of the people in Prince William Sound, Alaska)