Tourists: A Love/Hate Letter
Now that I live in a city on the top 10 list of most visited U.S. cities, I expected to have to deal with a dose of tourists now and then. My office is at the epicenter of many tourist hot spots and Metro stations, not to mention great shopping, so I figured I'd see tourists pretty regularly and just avoid them.
Ha. How naive.
Throngs of families with huge strollers and backpacks. Gaggles of high school kids (we're talking 60 or 70) lined up for Ford's Theater or Buca di Beppo (by all means, sample the finest of DC cuisine while you're here).
I keep forgetting how annoying high school kids are. Everything must be said at an "outdoor voice" level, the littlest things will cause peals of laughter, and they think they know everything.
So as I was letting out large sighs when stuck behind yet another family trying to get a steamer trunk down a broken escalator at a Metro station (first: pack light, baggage fees are exorbitant; and second, a broken escalator is now a STAIRCASE. Don't act as though you have no idea how to navigate this situation), I was humbled.
I visited DC close to ten times prior to moving here. On each of those trips, I was one of them--a tourist. And I'm sure on some of the earlier trips, I ranked high on the annoying tourist level. Holding a map and squealing over the monuments, scampering around the mall asking Dad to take a photo of me with a different monument in the background, attacking the pretzel cart as though it was a gift from heaven.
So while the tourists can hinder my daily routine, I can't launch into full-fledged annoyance and cynicism. Somewhere in that gaggle of high school kids could be a young girl who dreams of living in this city some day, of passing The White House on the way to work, of calling this amazing city home. And she doesn't need to remember the jaded yuppie who glared at her group of friends when they pour into the Forever 21 next to her office.
With that, tourists, carry on. Take your monument photos, shriek with excitement over seeing The White House, and study your maps. Just remember, stand right, walk left. And don't litter.