It started out like this last year, I remember it quite well. Well enough that once it was over, I immediately began fearing it’s coming for the next year. I am on my morning Metro train at 9:40am. Any other day, I’d have missed the morning rush and would be one of about five people in this car: four of us being the late-comers to work that will soon be chastised by their coworkers for their tardiness; the other one being the unmistakable window-licking tourist. Today, as it will be for another 89 days or so, I will be sharing my once peaceful train ride with an extra 200 window-licking tourists.
This is because at the dawn of civilization (circa 1900,) the Japanese were invited to come plant a bunch of cherry blossom trees all around Washington, DC. Fast forward a century and they are all over the place. And, my my my, they make our country’s monuments even better to check out. Which is why tourists from other nations decide DC is the best place to take their vacation. From about April until June we will roughly receive a billion tourists to our town because the trees just make our monuments so much more damn beautiful. It’s also inevitable that during this time, I will cross paths with each of these billion lost and confused tourists.
Today, I am surprised to find a seat on the train. Well, perhaps not as surprised as the large, amorphous tourist whose girth has overflown from “it’s” side of the seat onto the vacant side. I made no hesitation to make my seat on half of it’s leg. Curiously, though, it didn’t seem to mind, since there was no movement or reaction, not even a twitch. It just continued to stare out at the budding cherry blossoms surrounding the Tidal Basin around Jefferson’s Memorial. Something made me think it may have been salivating and I really wanted to tell it that the trees in fact produced no cherries. But, I didn’t want to ruin it’s trip.
It’s this time of the year that actually makes me want to be at work as quickly as humanly possible.
Now, the problem with living in a town frequented by tourists is that there is an overwhelming feeling permanent residents get that we plainly do not exist or that we are a pseudo-attraction at a zoo or something. Almost like we all are frozen in one of those dioramas the tourists would find in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and we depict human life, but, in reality, we really aren’t there.
Many towns seem to revolve around their tourism. Their economic heartbeat comes from the money brought in from visitors. I’m not sure if DC would necessarily be subjugated to the same live-or-die scenario if suddenly tourism fell off. After all, it is the seat of American government. However, I am probably not alone in thinking that most residents of the District would have no qualms in seeing one less group of bass-ackward tourists all on their Segways with that one son who just can’t figure the dang machine out.
So, if you come to DC, here’s a small list of things that YOU can do to not beleaguer the actual people who live in the city:
- When using public transportation, traveling through a mall, going anywhere, do not become an ESCA-LEFTER: One who stands to the left side of an escalator, not realizing that the right side is for standing, the left side is for walking. We could give two shits less if you and your chum are having a fascinating convo about that neat-o IMAX presentation you saw on Black Holes at the Aerospace Museum, other people have shit to do and you’re blocking them from being able to do it.
- If you really think you’re part of the cool crowd, wearing one of those CIA or FBI hats you just bought at one of the ten thousand sidewalk carts in DC will prove to us all that you are not. Take it off and keep it in your bag until you get home and can surprise Cletus and Krystal with your mad talent.
- Do NOT bring a whistle to round up your troops. Our eyes are already blinded by the fact you make your group of middle-schoolers wear matching neon-green t shirts so you don’t lose them. I’m sure you don’t know how to pronounce ‘collateral damage’, but that’s what you’re doing to us every time you blow that thing.
- Fanny pack. Don’t. Just don’t.
- We actually keep this place pretty clean. See that trashcan? I know you do, because there’s one within ten steps of where ever you stand in the District. Put your soggy chili cheese dog wrapper in that. Not on the sidewalk.
- If you see us walking faster than you, don’t ask for directions. And if you ask for a picture, we’ll take your camera and keep on walking. Seriously.
In sum, I want to give you the message of my rant:
doing overtly obvious things like these will not only aggravate the piss out of everyone around you, but (and I think you would have really thought about this before you bought two dozen bright orange TEAM SALVATION GOES TO WASHINGTON! t shirts,) you become an easy target for crime. Even if the crooks don’t pin you out at first, perhaps your already annoying nature will make them think twice about what ever it is they do.