Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm putting cherry blossom tourists on my notice board

In my normal, day-to-day life, I am fairly pro-tourist. I have a distaste for those who try to prove how city they are by constantly grousing about the tourists being under foot. I feel flattered and lucky to live in an area people like enough to visit during their hard-earned vacations.

And now, here comes the but.

I think I reached a tipping point today.

With the
increasingly popular cherry blossoms out in full force, the tourists have really descended. And over the last few days, it has reached code-red levels on my commute. I'm a race car in the red, that's all I'm saying.


Run! Don't make eye contact, just get away!

The problem doesn't lie with all tourists. Just the stupid, oblivious ones. Those who insist on taking the train during rush hour, and being totally unprepared for the experience. Like here are the Gundersens from Eu Claire, milling around in front of the ticket gate, blocking everyone's way, while Dad curses euphemistically as he tries to figure out how the ding-dang tickets go into the slot. The babies are screeching and the older kids are fruiting off while Mom chases futilely after them. "Tyler? Tyler? Get back here. This is counterproductive behavior, young man. Remember our discussion? On just this very topic? Caitlin! Don't touch that. Tyler! TYLER, DON'T KISS YOUR SISTER! That is WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE!!!!"

I maneuver past them and board the train. But a few stops down, there's a huge, extended, rather permed family (I'm guessing they're from Indiana) waiting. The doors open. They hover uncertainly in front of them (again, blocking everyone's path). They wonder aloud: "Do you think this is the right traaaaaaain? Should we get oooonnnnnn? Excuse me, siiirrrrrrrrrr? Does this go to Washington, deeee ceeeeeeeeee?????" At the very last second, they decide to waddle aboard. All twenty-seven of them. Shouting and playing grab-ass and laughing like hyenas. All the while, the doors are trying to close on them, which just makes them laugh harder, blithely unaware of the fact that blocking the doors is the fastest way to break the train, meaning we'd all have to get off and cram onto the next one. Looks like I picked the wrong day to leave my gun at home. (Thanks for getting me all paranoid, Jim Webb aid guy.)

So tourists, if you're reading, I want to say one thing: This is a real, working city. This is not Six Flags. The subway is not a roller coaster. Some of us are just trying to go to work. You are driving me crazy every morning. Like, bat shit crazy.

I could go on. And on. I could talk about you constantly breaking
the ironclad rule of not standing on the left side of the escalator. And a new concern is that you are actually destroying the very thing you've come to see. But I guess I'll stop. In the meantime, I've got my eye on you. Better shape up. Or at least, wait until 9:30 to ride the train? Thanks.

Hyperlinks:
-
Escalators Survive Tourists, Tree Roots Not So Much [Express]
- Webb Aid Tried to Take Gun Into Senate Building [Washington Post]
-
Standing on the Left? You Must Be on Vacation [Washington Post]
-
Smothered With Love [Washington Post]

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36 comments:

i.p. daily said...

Add to that the fact that there is now a baseball team in the city and NOTHING has been done to improve the infrastructure, and we're in for One Crazy Summer. I just hope we can save Cassandra's grandfather's house from mean Old Man Beckerstead.

What ever happened to Curtis Armstrong, anyway?

Daniel said...

Here fucking here. It has been unbelieveable all week, and the "stand to the right" thing is only the beginning. Today on the way to work, a family was coming down the escalator and it seems their kids (teens, mind you) had reached the bottom first. These kids decided it was a good idea to stand directly in front of the up escalator and play with the hand belts while their folks were blocking passage coming down. They literally had both ways blocked.

Get the fuck out of my town.

Anonymous said...

I think you're too hard on them. So they're annoying and a mild inconvenience, big deal, they also bring a lot of money into the city.

honeykbee said...

Can't expect Indiana residents to get the hang of the "stand right, walk left" thing when local residents have yet to master it, can we?

Anonymous said...

shut the hell up. please. You are as annoying as the ones whom you claim annoy you.

MSH said...

The haters are always anonymous. If we all had transparent cars, there would be no more road rage.

Anonymous #1: What do I care about the money they bring into the city? I don't see any of it, and apparently none of it gets used effectively on any public good (schools, health care, non-ballpark infrastructure). So who cares? It's bullshit to me how whenever there's some vague notion that revenue is involved in something, that something suddenly becomes unassailable. So bzzzzt. Return to sender.

Anonymous #2: I don't think you actually made a full point. But the difference between the tourists and me is that you can (and maybe should, for your own well-being) choose to stop reading my blog. I can't avoid the tourists unless I move or quit my job.

But like I said, I am pro-tourist. It's just that, as in all human situations, a little preparation and consideration goes a long way, that's all.

Anonymous said...

You mean Eau Claire? Not that I like the place but if you're going to mock at least get the name right.

MSH said...

Yeah, Eau Claire. Sorry. Point for anonymous #3.

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time to invest in an electric cattle prod. Or three.

Anonymous said...

It's quite possible that the permed people were from Pennsylvania. I've driven through there and the 80's never died. Fantastic post though. I try to be nice to them, but when there are 6 kids and three strollers and 4 clueless adults who won't move the strollers so people can board and exit, I get a little cranky.

Lis said...

You captured my exact feelings toward the tourists in DC. I'm glad that they're here, that they're taking in museums and visiting the nation's capitol, but they can just drive me insane with the standing and the yelling and the not moving!! Though, to be fair, local DC Nationals fans can be just as bad.

Anonymous said...

boo fucking hoo...

Greg said...

This is classic. I think Tyler and Caitlin were at Archives station yesterday during evening rush hour. While Mom tried to figure out how to get the mushed-up paper ticket through the ding-dang reader so that she and Caitlin could get through, Tyler was running up the down escalator, much to the chagrin of the Type A personalities rushing down to catch the departing trains. Dad was loudly decrying Washington DC's inefficiency and "crazy subway system."

At least I don't live on the red line anymore.

Anonymous said...

My suggestion: take the bus. I made the switch, and my morning commute is now 100x better. Metro in the summer can make anyone crazy.

D.C. Rider said...

Dude, are you stalking me? Are you, like, following me in and out of the Metro, 'cause there is no way you saw the exact same people I did unless...

Oh, wait a minute, I bet there are LOTS of kids out there named Caitlin and Tyler! Sorry.

Heather said...

Everyone living here seems to have such a love/hate relationship with the tourists. When it's not prime tourist season, they're almost sweet - emerging from the Smithsonian metro stop and seeing the Capitol for the first time gets them so happy and excited! During these times, I always love when someone asks for directions or a restaurant suggestion (even though they'll end up at Ruby Tuesday's anyway).

But the summer? GOD. By early June, I am DONE with the tourists.

the bee in dc said...

oh thank GOD for the "this is a real working city. this is not six flags" comment. looooved it.

Bill Thompson said...

MSH .. your comments may have been a bit harsh -- or maybe not -- but your points are well-taken.

No, we should not expect Ma and Pa Kettle from Des Moines to somehow just instinctively know what our escalator or farecard-machine rules are. But is it too much to ask for some basic human observation? Many vacationers (who appear to have all the time in the world) are oblivious to the business-suited, attache-carrying people around them who need to move swiftly to a specific destination.

And how does anyone, tourist or otherwise, think it is a good idea upon arriving at the top or bottom of the escalator, to step off, then .. STOP? Can they not see the chain-reaction pileup behind them?

One last thought: let's be honest, Metro could do a better job of helping Ma & Pa find their way. I've lived here since 1984 and even I still get on the wrong train from time to time.

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