Sunday, April 4, 2010

Tourists vs. District-Dwellers: The Battle Begins (Again)

It's Cherry Blossom Festival time! While this means, of course, lots of cherry blossoms (I'm going on Monday; I've never been before!), it also means one big, dreaded thing: SCADS OF TOURISTS. Living near the Woodley Park Metro stop this time of year is absolutely disgusting, a statement I may delve further into in the future, but for now, I'd like to identify for you a few groups of people I have identified as being trustworthy (read: not holding up my daily commute/sanity) during this war-zone of a season:
  • Employees: If you work here, you live here, which means you're A-OK with me.

  • Runners: This one isn't entirely foolproof, because plenty of people come into town & carry on with their usual workouts by seeing the new city on foot, but more often than not, I tend to trust that runners are locals.

  • Bus riders: Occasionally the rare ballsy tourists will make their way onto the public bus, holding up the getting-to-my-destination process by asking the bus driver "Does this bus go to the Smithsonian?" (which is another problem entirely), but for the most part, the bus system is just too tough to tackle if you're only in town for the weekend. Most travelers opt for the Metro or catch a cab. All the better!

  • Solo bus/Metro riders: If you're braving public transportation alone, you probably know what you're doing, or are at least adept enough to try. If you are, in fact, a solo-traveling tourist, kudos to you & best of luck on your journey & thanks for not getting in my way.

  • SmarTrip holders: If you've spent the $5 on a permanent means of making your way easily through the Metro's golden gates, you're probably more than a weekender. Also, you're unlikely to hold up the already-bottled-necked line to get into & out of (y)our desired destination.

  • Dog walkers: No one brings their pet on vacation, right?! If you're out walking your furry friend - leash, poop bag & all - I assume you're from someplace nearby.

  • Grocery shoppers/carriers: No need for foodstuffs if you're staying at the nearest Marriott. If you're buying sustenance by the bag, your pantry must be nearby rather than an airplane ride away.
If we've identified trustworthy groups, that of course means that the opposite exist - the untrustworthy. So how can you spot a tourist? Well, everyone knows the basics, but it can't hurt to outline them again. I avoid:
  • Camera wearers: This means I may be discounting some perfectly legitimate local photogs, but too often, a camera hung around the neck means a father of five who will stop at any scenic point along the middle of the sidewalk to capture on film family memories in the making.

  • Large families: If you have a large family & live in the District, you're probably smarter than standing in hordes on sidewalks & streetcorners. You also probably know how to use the Metro, which means you probably know better than to use it.

  • Map holders: I get lost a lot, too, but when I do, I just ask someone where to go. Tourists use maps. Large maps, unfolded in the middle of walkways & taking up space on the Metro.

  • Anyone in an I ♥ DC shirt: If you lived here, I presume that you, like me, would it a lot less every time you encountered someone sporting a chintzy $5 tee. I when you're not here.

  • Escalefters: Any DC-dweller - or, for that matter, veteran tourist - knows that, as with street traffic, the left side of every escalator is for passing. If a car is parked in the left lane, you can't pass it; similarly, if you & your three kids are parked on the left side of the escalator, I can't pass you.

  • Escalator sitters: Seriously, get up & get better shoes. Also, get out of my way - & preferably out of my sight.
*Begrudging disclaimer: I don't hate tourists. In fact, sometimes I sort of like them. And I always, always want to give them directions. But why are so many of them SO IRRATIONAL? It's like they've never considered that people - 599,657 of us, the Census Bureau says! - actually reside in the fair city they're having so much fun visiting. I'm all for vacations, & I love living in a city people actually want to visit (more than I can say for my hometown!), but I wish the scads of visitors would have some common sense/courtesy. If you need to stop, move over. If you're not sure what you're doing, ask someone. And for the love of forefathers & freedom, stand to the right.

*Second disclaimer: I wrote this post at 3:00am. I cannot be held responsible for any suckage.
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