19 May 2006

Why do I hate TOURISTS, you ask?

Deep down, I hate the vast majority of tourists!

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)


bygpowis said...

they bring money that filters down to somebody in dc. and they leave. some part of their persons exists when they get back home. imagine if you were back home with them all year? they come, they go. rejoice in that.

bygpowis said...

they bring money that filters down to somebody in dc. and they leave. some part of their persons exists when they get back home. imagine if you were back home with them all year? they come, they go. rejoice in that.

Native Son said...

Man you are right on point. what makes things worse, I work for the Federal Government and my office building is on 12 and Independence, right along side the National Mall. My building (USDA) allows the tourists to use our cafe. So when you go to lunch you have to stand in extra long lines because they let in 2 bus loads of tourists. I tell you the fed gov't likes taking our money don't they lol

Every day I leave work, while walking to the metro station you have to dodge them stopping dead in their tracks to look at a building or hear and see them proclaim that they are lost. They kow that in the evening people are trying to get home.

I see feel you about the metro thing. They will stand to the left of the escalator and they don't know how to stick their fare card in the machine to get into the station, they block each entrance and have to call the station manager over to help them.


Anonymous said...

Oh, you are singing my song! Greetings from New Orleans, mecca of clip on visors and fanny packs. I feel everything you are saying! One thing I despise is when a tourist interrupts whatever I'm doing to demand directions from me (of course, there is never a please or thank you). If I don't have the information they need, a simple "I don't know" does not suffice! They stare at me in disbelief and will not go away. Tourists are a plague- a disease. One day, I'm gonna slap one!

Coco Stasia said...

You hit the nail on the head! I have a similar post in my blog about fellow Americans visiting London. They're the worst!

Anonymous said...

Yeh, I hate them too. Ditto to all you said.

The Thinking Black Man said...

Yeah... it IS good that they leave, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...I definitely agree with your post. At least these experiences are serving to make you a better "tourist" or traveler when you're not in the D.C. area. I'm from Minnesota, so not too much problems related to tourism.

I do work in the Boundary Waters as a trail guide, and I suppose my greatest gripe about tourists would be the yuppies who don't know anything about the area, disrespect the wilderness, and would be generally helpless without an outfitter.

I've been a tourist in D.C., I'll admit that, but I don't think I fit your description. My girlfriend will be clogging your lunch lines soon...I'll send her this to maybe minimize her impact.

~The Thinking Tourist