I know you try to ignore them. Goodness knows I do. Gone are the days of chummy conversation on crowded Metro trains, “Where are you all from?!” Gone are the days of patiently waiting for someone to notice they shouldn’t be standing on the left of the only working escalator. Gone gone GONE! Yes, friends, I am speaking of a plague so everpresent we may no longer even recognize it. It is…the tourists.
Here’s how I see it: these people are upstanding members of society in their own homes, but when they enter the District, they are overcome by being in a new environment. They instantly transform into fannypack-wearing sightseers, giving no account to the considerable space they take on a busy 9:00am sidewalk in downtown DC. Is this transformation real?
For you, dear reader, I set off for the Great Midwest to investigate.
I went to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, straight to WalMart, the very eye of the storm. What I found were people who closely resembled the DC tourists I know so well. Fanny packs free up hands, skinny blonde girls wear goth-amounts of black eyeliner under crunchy hair, retirees shop from the comfort of scooters. It may be that this is just who these people are; there is no magical transformation! But let’s look further.
In the Milwaukee airport, I encountered not one but three women standing in a non-existent line. This would have been one thing, but these women got huffy when other real-line-standers made their lunch orders. Now this really was DC tourist behavior in the wild: self-confident milling around. So it’s not just that these people are awed by a new environment. Far from it! This is just who they are!
No amount of heavy sighing and brusque direction-giving is going to make any difference, friends! Embrace the American tourist mentality; after the Fourth of July, it’s time for some acceptance.
Live and let live. At least until you’re really in a hurry.