Sunday, April 1, 2012

How to Look and Act Like a Tourist

We just got back from a week in California- our first time to the Golden State!   We included a few days in Napa and Sedona and then drove to San Francisco for the rest of the trip.   I say we included.   "We" is perhaps the wrong term.  Michael did the planning.  I packed suitcases.  I took photos.   I went along for the ride.  More on that later, it was a fun trip, I have lots of photos, and we had lots of wine.

Anyway.  During our trip we saw a lot of people looking utterly confused.   While this occurs daily in Florida, since I am on my home turf, and not on vacation, I like to think I carry myself as such.   I also tend to give Florida vacationers a (small) break.  But when I am also visiting a new place, thus rendering me a tourist as well, yet seem competent, while others do not, it gets me thinking.   So without further ado, here are, in no particular order, ways to appear like a tourist

  • Enter every elevator that opens.   Do not check to see if the 'up' or 'down' arrow is illuminated.  Simply charge ahead
  • Enter elevators without first allowing those inside to exit.  This will guarantee much pushing and confusion, and be most inefficient
  • Wander aimlessly down the hall, street, corridor, etc.   Look sideways and backwards, but not forward.  Do not be aware of your surroundings, and walk directly into other people.  Walk slowly.  Do not use a map.   If you are using the audio guide at Alcatraz, stand in the middle of the walkways and do not move when you see swarms of people heading your way
  • Do not read bus signs or consult bus route maps.  Instead, ask every driver 'Does this go to _________'?   Proceed to argue with the driver if his answer will not get you to your destination immediately
  • Do not carry exact change on the cable car.  Relatedly, do not understand that a one way trip is $6 and you will have to pay again to get back on
  • Wear bright white sneakers, ill fitting jeans, windbreakers, and a huge camera around your neck at all times.   This includes, but is not exclusive to, riding public transit and eating in a restaurant.  Seriously folks, it is ok to put the camera and your GIGANTIC lens in the bag for a moment.  You will not miss a Kodak moment while they bring you your sourdough
  • While ordering breakfast at the hotel cafe, which is a poor man's Starbucks with the CLEAR DISPLAY CASE and very limited menu, ask at least 25 questions.  Per person.  Per item.  Example:  What do you have?  (Check the case, sir)  Now, you have muffins?  (Yes, as you can see, there are many in the case.  Bottom shelf)  Are those blueberry muffins?  (Do you have a blueberry allergy?  If not, who gives a damn?  You are not at a custom bakery.   There are limited selections and 10 people just got in line)  Now, what about oatmeal?  (There is only one kind, in the to-go cups)  And coffee?  (YES! Of course!)  Do you have decaf?  (Geez Louise)  Honey, do you want fruit?  Is this all you have?  (There are no kidding, 40 bananas heaped on the bar.)  Well ok I guess we'll take a banana and maybe an apple?   This continued for awhile, and I am not exaggerating in the slightest.  Do I need to add that they were wearing bright white sneakers, ill fitting jeans, and windbreakers?   I can only assume they hadn't gotten the camera out of its case yet.

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