March 27, 2008

Tourist Season (And an Oddly Worn Shirt)

Last week I briefly touched on the horde of tourists that have descended on Washington DC as they do every spring. They're here to take in the beautiful cherry blossoms, see the monuments and take advantage of the museums. And I can't blame them. I've been downtown each day this week and it's a beautiful sight. But for some reason every tourist in the city seems to think that I'm some authority on the the nation's capital. Though I'm dressed like everyone else who works downtown - suit, tie, laptop bag slung over my shoulder - I'm apparently the go-to guy for directions. And while I'm sure some really smart people come visit my fair city, most of these folks aren't that bright. Take these three examples...

Tourist: Where are all the cherries people keep talking about?
Me: Cherry blossoms.
Tourist: Yeah, where are they? All I see are trees with a bunch of flowers on them.
Me: Where are you from?
Tourist: Detroit.
Me: You're going back soon, right? Please?

Tourist: That's the Old Executive Office Building, right?
Me: Yep. Sure is.
Tourist: Why do they call it the Old Executive Office Building?
Me: Because it's, well, old and it's an executive office building.
Tourist: Huh.
Me: Yeah, they're cryptic here in Washington.

Tourist: Excuse me. Can you tell me where the White House is?
Me: See that white house over there behind me?
Tourist: Yeah...and?
Me: Do you really not see where I'm going with this?

And after a day of dealing with work and tourists, and problems that aren't important in the grand scheme of things but certainly seemed important surrounded by the four walls that constitute work, it was wonderful when I arrived at home to find my daughter undressed and silly and my son smiling wide.

Posted by Chris at March 27, 2008 7:12 AM

You know the whole saying, "There are no stupid questions" I heartily disagree! There are many stupid questions!!

Posted by: DebbieDoesLife at March 27, 2008 7:44 AM

Mia's going all "burka" on us? Yep, after a long day, I'm quite certain those silly smiles make for a better evening.

Posted by: coolchick at March 27, 2008 7:48 AM

It's hard to believe that natural selection hasn't gotten some people yet.

Posted by: Kate at March 27, 2008 7:51 AM

I am from just north of Detroit. People are really stupid here. I apologize, I should have warned you.

Posted by: harrylips at March 27, 2008 7:53 AM

Oh yes! Tourists either leave their common sense at home or they are that stupid. My office building is directly across from the NYSE, which has NYSE displayed over the doorway. Tourists will ask "Is this the NYSE?" "No, it's McDonald's. Ask the man with the gun for a Happy Meal." :-)

Mia is adorable.

Posted by: Maria at March 27, 2008 8:40 AM

Hey! Back off from Detroit!! We had to pay for our mayors affairs with his staff members and his lawsuits from cops who were fired for being...cops. We had to take the money from somewhere and the public schools seemed like the best place:-P

Posted by: Dee at March 27, 2008 8:58 AM

Did you read about how the cherry blossoms keep coming earlier and earlier? It's pretty interesting how the climate has changed so much. And I am sorry you have to deal with tourists; when I lived in Orlando people always thought we were the experts in all things Disney, which got really annoying!

Posted by: claire at March 27, 2008 9:02 AM

Ah, to be young and naked again.

And I'm sorry, the DMB fan in me has to go there: she's under the table and dreaming ;)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at March 27, 2008 9:04 AM

Who doesn't know it's the cherry BLOSSOMS D.C. is famous for?!


Sparkle Pants just cracked me up with the DMB reference.

Mia is mischievously adorable, as usual.

Posted by: Poppy at March 27, 2008 9:09 AM

Awwww, lawsie mercy. I feel your pain my friend. I too am afflicted with the same Please! Ask ME, for *I* Have The Answers To All Of Your Questions!disease. In college I started joking that I had "Talk to me!" written on my forehead in some kind of special, invisible ink that only crazy people could see.

And don't you just love it when someone stops you to ask a question/favor, takes a moment of your time, and not only doesn't bother to say thank you or acknowledge that you helped them - but actually seems irritated because they don't like your answer?

That reminds me...I should blog about the girl at the airport a few weeks ago that kept asking me if I was SURE that she was waiting for the right bus to the subway...Really, are you sure? I don't think it's coming. I think I'm just going to get on THIS bus because it's here NOW and I'm impatient. Oh, it's the wrong bus? Really?? Are you SURE?

Posted by: Caitlin at March 27, 2008 9:13 AM

As usual Mia is adorable!
We get some really dumb tourists here in NH too. Like they ask how old was the Old Man of The Mountain? Or dif they had a railing to prevent his falling. Too funny!!!

Posted by: Maribeth at March 27, 2008 9:14 AM

good one!

And, Yes, I live in Canada but I do NOT know "Bob" from Toronto and I do NOT live in an igloo or drive a snowmobile to work (although with this past winter, I should have)...

Posted by: Holly at March 27, 2008 9:16 AM

I don't meet too many tourist here in suburbia, but practically everyone here is a transplant, so giving directions is in my job description. Our office is right smack dab in front of an Office Depot. I give directions to people and often times add the "right smack dab in front of" part. Somehow these people end up calling and saying "Uhhhhh, I'm at Office Depot and I don't see your office". I usually can't help myself and have to say "OK, walk in Office Depot...are you in? OK, walk out the door and walk in a straight line. You should run face first into a building...that's us".

Posted by: Mymilabean at March 27, 2008 9:20 AM

While I am nearly your opposite on all things political, I will heartily endorse your opinions concerning the flawed pleasantness of DC in the spring, the idiocy of tourists, and the wondrous beauty of undressed and silly daughters and wide smiling sons. In fact if you ran for office with those as your platform, I might just vote for you regardless of any other differences... especially if you blew up all the buses.

Ah, how sweet is the absence of DC tourists in Tennessee!

Posted by: oddmix at March 27, 2008 9:21 AM

Heheh. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: Alison at March 27, 2008 9:24 AM

I love Mia's outfit. Who's she supposed to be, or is it just general silliness? That's always fun.

Posted by: Fraulein N at March 27, 2008 9:26 AM

It appears that Mia's on a very slow road to becoming a Muslim woman. Head first, it seems.

I think that face-slapping should bee an option for such tourists. They ask a stupid question, you say nothing; just slap them and walk away. Harsh, maybe, but it's the only way they'll learn.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at March 27, 2008 9:28 AM

I would have pulled a V-8 and thwacked those tourists on the forehead.

Posted by: GreenCanary at March 27, 2008 10:29 AM

My husband is from Seward, AK, and although we don't live there we spend a good chunk of each summer visting family. After 20 years of this, I guess I don't look like a tourist anymore, and I'm often asked questions about the small town. My favorite touristy question of all time? What altitude are we at? Ummm....see that big body of water completely surrounding the town? The one with fishing boats and cruise ships? We're at sea level.

Posted by: robin at March 27, 2008 10:54 AM

Sparkle's comment was so good. I'm a huge DMB fan, and that's exactly what I was thinking. She just got here first!

Here's my take on the "Let's ask HIM!" You must look approachable. Not like a serial killer or a rapist. I mean, there's got to be something good about it, doesn't there? Either that, or just go all ballistic on them and start shouting obscenities. They'll go away. Guaranteed.

Posted by: k8 at March 27, 2008 11:07 AM

well, you can hardly blame them. i mean, asians tend to be pretty approachable people, not to mention good at local geography.

Posted by: jessica at March 27, 2008 1:48 PM

"Do you not see where I'm going with this?" Haha I heart you, Chris. That is too funny. You attract the weirdest people!

Posted by: Heather at March 27, 2008 1:51 PM

People are amazing. I saw a woman at the Grand Canyon who wondered aloud if she could eat the "blueberries" she saw growing on the trees there. They were junipers. I wish she would've tried one.

Posted by: julie at March 27, 2008 2:44 PM

I cannot figure out what is on Mia's head. Pants, maybe?

Either way, I totally agree about the fact there are, indeed, stupid questions.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 27, 2008 4:00 PM

HA... I hope I don't come across as that dumb when I'm a tourist. But I probably do.
You know that in a year or two, we'll see that style of head-covering in a fashion magazine. Mia's just ahead of her time.

Posted by: Amy at March 27, 2008 7:12 PM

That's funny that so many people are asking you for information! You must be right around the area with all the cherry blossoms. I work near Metro Center, and there aren't a lot of trees to be found in that vicinity. In fact, so far I've only seen the cherry blossoms on TV!

Posted by: Zandria at March 30, 2008 10:57 AM

My sympathies. I live in a tourist town, and we get some of the strangest--and dumbest--questions. And some people are downright rude about it, too, especially if I don't know the expert. I love where I live and I've been here six years, but who seriously knows *everything* about their town, even if they grew up in it?

Oh, and many of them are absolutely AWFUL drivers, too.

Posted by: Caryn at March 30, 2008 1:03 PM

ahhh, makes me wish I lived there still.

Posted by: Aimee Greeblemonkey at March 30, 2008 11:52 PM

Yeah, I'll be visiting D.C. in mid-April. Can you tell me what stores are in the National Mall? :)

Posted by: Stacey at March 30, 2008 11:57 PM

It sounds like you've got some pretty dumb tourists on your hands. At least you tried.

Posted by: angela at March 31, 2008 7:33 PM

One time? In Amsterdam? Everyone stopped me to ask directions to the red light district.

Could I look any more obviously American and NOT familiar with the red light district?

(Though I did check it out later to see what all the fuss was about. Maybe they were having a half-off sale. As it were.)

Posted by: Mindy at April 14, 2008 11:28 AM

These questions about Australia were posted on an Australian Tourism Website and obviously the answers came from a fellow Aussie. (between brackets the country where the question was coming from)

1. Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, so how do the plants grow (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.

2. Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the streets? (USA)
A: Depends how much you’ve been drinking.

3. Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney. Can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it’s only three thousand miles, take lots of water with you.

4. Q: Is it safe to run around in the bushes in Australia? (Sweden)
A: So it’s true what they say about Swedes.

5. Q: It is imperative that I find the names and addresses of places to contact for a stuffed porpoise (Italy)
A: Let’s not touch this one.

6. Q: Are there any ATM’s (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane, Cairns, Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?

7. Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe. Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the pacific, which does not…… oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked!

8. Q: Which direction is North in Australia? (USA)
A: Face South and then turn 90 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we’ll send you the rest of the directions.

9. Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.

10. Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys’ Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tria is that quaint little country bordering Ger-ma-ny, which is…. oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked!

11. Q: Do you have perfume in Australia? (France)
A: No, WE don’t stink!

12. Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.

13. Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?

14. Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay nightclubs.

15. Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: only at Christmas.

16. Q: Are there killer bees in Australia? (Germany)
A: Not yet, but for you, we’ll import them!

17. Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilisation of vegan hunter gatherers. Milk is illegal.

18. Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca, which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.

19. Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It’s a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It’s called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.

20. Q: I was in Australia in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Kings Cross. Can you help? (USA)
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.

21. Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA)
A: Yes, but you’ll have to learn it first.

Don't know if these are real or not, but they're funny!

Posted by: Bella at May 15, 2008 11:32 PM

We have ways of dealing with annoying tourists --

Posted by: Mike Licht at June 8, 2008 8:25 PM