Thursday, April 3, 2008

so maybe the tourists aren't that bad

It's that time of year again, peeps. Once cherry blossom season comes around, we all know what that means. The tourists are coming! The tourists are coming!

Normally, I dread this time of year. In the past, I've been fairly anti-tourist, mostly because they tend to delay my comings and goings (like by not standing to the right on the Metro escalators and stopping at the top or bottom of the escalator to figure out where they want to go). I've written about my disdain for tourists many times, including the post Wonkette picked up that led many a Wonkette reader to wish for my death (and tell me so; I deleted those comments long ago as I was a young blogger then and had no idea people could be so mean).

But I think I know better now.

The difference is that I no longer work downtown. For some reason, tourists aren't flocking to the Green Line and joining me on my journey to Mount Pleasant, where I work. What? Don't they want to see our cool, new Target? Hey, we've even got two Starbucks, literally right across the street from each other? Alas, the tourists don't want that. They want cherry blossoms and monuments. They want the White House and the Smithsonians. They want the Red, Blue, and Orange Lines. Not the Green.

So imagine my surprise when I saw a tourist and her tourist son on the bus ride home to Arlington. They had all the classic signs of Tourist-y-ness: The 'I heart DC' t-shirts and the mom had a fanny back and the son was carrying a big Smithsonian gift shop shopping bag. Yup, they were out-of-towners. It was kinda cute actually--my first close encounter with a tourist this tourist season.

While Kate Nash blared in my ear courtesy of my iPod, the tourist mom asked the women next to me for directions. When we got to my bus stop, she and her son got off with me. And then they stopped. Tourist mom started looking around, as if trying to figure out where she was. Holy crap, I thought. The tourists must be lost. And the woman's face could not hide her confusion.

I did something I hadn't done with a tourist in a really long time. I asked her if she needed help. Her face lit up when I did so. And I gave her directions.

Me: Well, you want to cross the street and wait at the bus stop over there. When the (blank) or (blank) bus comes, you jump on that and ride for about 10 minutes. That should take you to your hotel.
: Thanks. Is there anything to eat around here or my hotel, do you know?
Me: Oh no, there's nothing around your hotel. You're better off eating here. You can go to (blank) or (blank) and about a block away is (blank).
Tourist: I might want to write this down.
Me: Here, let me. (scribbling)
Tourist: Oh wow. Thank you so much. Really, that is so nice of you.
Me: Eh, no worries. Oh and if the wait for the bus is too long after dinner, you can take a cab. Considering the distance, it should cost no more than $7 to get from here to your hotel. Whatever's easiest for you...
Tourist: I really do appreciate all of your help.
Me: Yup, no problem.

I walked away and realized how good it felt to help that woman out. I thought to myself, Yeah, I might just have to do that again. Like tomorrow.


kattie said...

oh my goodness, sis. i can't believe you actually helped a tourist. you usually scoff, roll your eyes, mumble "tourists" and walk away. are you softening???

lizzie said...

ha! you know me too well. looks like i've turned a new leaf... :)

Madame Meow said...

Tourists can be ugly, but they are people too :o)

I'm glad you could help someone in need!

kris said...

I think I need to adopt this attitude. I'm still of the "move to the right!" mindset. Maybe it's the rain . . . ;)

lizzie said...

madame meow: yeah, they are people too. and now that i'm in denver today as a tourist and the locals have been super nice so far, i know i need to make a stronger effort to make our out-of-towners feel welcome.

kris: ah yes, i get frustrated sometimes too with the whole stand to the right thing. it's funny, because the standing to the right thing is so ingrained in my head that i do that on every escalator i'm on, even the one's outside of DC.