Dear Nation’s Capital Tourist

Hey, there. I couldn’t help but notice your AAA guidebook, visor and fanny pack when you got on the train this morning. Welcome to Washington. There’s a lot to see and do here, but as someone who’s been a Metro commuter for all of 40 days, I feel like I could offer you some helpful advice.

Now, before you accuse me of being another elitist city-slicker, let me be up front with you. I’m a white bread cracker from Buttcrack, America. The Big Town I was born — and raised — in a town of 6,000 people. There are more people ON THIS BLOCK in downtown DC than in my entire hometown.

But, I digress. That’s not what my letter to you is about.

Yesterday, at the end of another 10-hour day, I experienced the catalyst for this letter. I boarded my train at McPherson Square just before 6:30 p.m. All was quiet, even through the transfer at L’Enfant Plaza. Hell, my luck was so good yesterday I didn’t even wait for a train — it was waiting on me when I got to the upper platform.

A batch of your kind got on my train at Gallery Place. I call them “your kind” because in addition to parental fanny packs and the like, there were three children in tow. (Time out: Before anybody accuses me of hating children, I don’t. I love children. Especially well-behaved children.) These parents committed the first cardinal sin of letting their children sit nowhere near them. (Thanks. Thanks for that.) Secondly, it’s important to remember that at 6:45 p.m., almost everybody on the train is going home from work and almost everybody’s been at work 10 hours or more.

1. This would NOT be the appropriate place for a singing contest between the three children, but that’s what they did. The entire way to Greenbelt. Catterwalling song after song in a “Name That Tune” style of competition for 35 minutes. When the 12-year-old son decided that getting defeated by his younger sisters was unacceptable, he would scream “NEW GAME!!!! NEW GAME!!!” at the top of his lungs.

Here’s a helpful hint to parents: Nobody thinks your kids in a singing contest in an enclosed area is cute. Nobody.

At any rate, I didn’t appreciate the nasty look from Mom when I suggested Snowflake play “The Quiet Game.” Hey, he said he wanted a new game. I was helping.

2. Those green arrows on the Metro turnstiles are NOT just clever decoration. They mean, “Hey! You! Walk through ME.” No matter how many times you try to insert your Metro day pass in the “red” side, it won’t work.

3. Blocking the escalators — especially during rush hour — is bad form. You just piss commuters off that way. Especially if you’re carting around a roller bag.

4. Sidewalks are “common use” areas. Lots of people move around quickly and use them. Expanding your map to “poster size” and dead stopping is frowned upon.

5. Yes. It’s our right to charge you $2 for a bottle of water. Welcome to Washington.

This certainly isn’t an all-inclusive list, but it should get you through the holiday weekend pretty smoothly. I know you’ve not ventured far outside of Kenosha, but I never lived anywhere but West Virginia and I get it. Come ON … if someone from West Virginia can get it right off the bat, you certainly can.

Come back. Just stay out of my way at 8:30 a.m.



16 Responses to “Dear Nation’s Capital Tourist”

  1. July 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

    I’ll see your D.C. tourists and raise you Orlando’s tourists. O-town’s tourist season lasts all year and the tourists come from every state and country, and they’re all dumb. And Orlando does its damndest to make sure they don’t know where they’re going, so they’re always lost, or driving slow. Or both.

    Since I lived near Universal Studios, I had the opportunity to endure two rush hours on Friday: the one for the local commuters, and the one for the new wave of tourists coming into town. So, not to diminish your pain, dear, but trust me, it could always be worse…

    p.s. Don’t know if I’m feeling the pitch-black background. What do your other readers think?

  2. July 2, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Better? ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t fault a girl for experimentation!

    Oh, my good friend in Orlando tells me it’s year-round HELL. Year. Round.

  3. July 2, 2008 at 5:09 pm

    Guess what? I linked to this at The DC Feed. I know. Big surprise.

  4. July 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Wellll … someone gets to live another day. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. July 2, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I LOVE THIS- IT inspired a rant of my own w/ regard to the office nazi!!!

  6. July 2, 2008 at 8:06 pm

    Better? ๐Ÿ™‚ Donโ€™t fault a girl for experimentation!

    I can’t fault you for anything, dear, especially not experimentation ๐Ÿ™‚ Early on my web development career, I developed a bias for white backgrounds for displaying text, simply because it seemed more readable to me that way… But no one has got that memo, apparently…

    Oh, my good friend in Orlando tells me itโ€™s year-round HELL. Year. Round.

    Supposedly, you can count on one hand the number of slow days that Disney World has annually and still have a couple of fingers left over. The onslaught is merciless…

    When I first lived in Palm Beach, I was like all the other locals complaining about the snowbirds coming down every winter and crowding our restaurants and clogging our streets. Now that I’m back from Orlando, I don’t complain about snowbirds any more. At least they stay long to get to know their way around; Orlando gets a new wave of tourists every weekend, and they’re just as stupid as the previous set. I don’t know what it is about driving around Central Florida in a minivan that makes people lose IQ points but it happens


  7. July 2, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    But no one has got that memo, apparentlyโ€ฆ

    Oops, I meant “no one on Myspace”. Where’s my editor when I need her to make me look good? ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. 8 Mike Licht
    July 2, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    There are 8 Simple Rules for dealing with DC tourists.

  9. 9 Paige
    July 2, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    $2 water? psh…cheap. :p

  10. July 2, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Wellll โ€ฆ someone gets to live another day.

    Was that a Tony Soprano moment? ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. July 3, 2008 at 6:59 am

    Seriously, guys … If you haven’t read Mike’s post yet on the 8 Simple Rules, go do it. You’ll laugh. Really, really hard. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. July 3, 2008 at 7:06 am

    That was good, wasn’t it? ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. 13 Joe
    July 3, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I think you do a disservice to tourists by your post. Call these people what they are: MORONS! While the specific actions are different in Kenosha (or Springfield, Des Moines, Paducah, Albany, etc.), the behavior is likely just as ignorantly self-absorbed. Viva Birth Control!!!

  14. July 3, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    Ah, Albany. Many years since I’ve been there. I, by the way, after several attempts (speaking of morons) e-mailed you my Google Talk info.

  15. 15 lifeisacookie
    July 3, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Giirrrrlll!!! You deserve one strong chugalugga!! Kids aside — that post was sheer hilarity (especially because it’s true!).
    Bottoms up, baby — there’s always tomorrow!

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