Temperatures are back in the 90s, so it’s time to welcome the big summer wave of tourists to our Nation’s Capital. While DC tourists cannot expect to enjoy the colorful level of verbal abuse they get in New York, tourists outnumber Washingtonians sixty-to-one, and they can really get on the nerves of DC natives. Here are some summer suggestions to Washingtonians on the care and handling of tourists. Caution — the small ones bite.
1. Do not throw tourists off Metro escalators when they stand on the left instead of walking. Be considerate. Thrown tourists tend to heap up at the foot of escalators, where other riders may trip or slip on them.
2. Remind school tour groups that pedestrian traffic on all Washington sidewalks is two-way at all times. Many of these young people have not seen sidewalks before and are ignorant of their use. Do not use your Mace or Taser to get through the mobs; this adds to air pollution and wastes electricity.
3. Do not stick sweaty T-shirts up tailpipes of idling tour buses. While these buses are breaking the law, polluting the air, and raising the price of fuel, it is not fair to suffocate tour bus drivers, and it only aggravates traffic problems, filling the streets with inert tour buses. Emphysema sufferers may whip drivers of idling buses with their oxygen tubes, however, as this seems to attract their attention.
4. If your neighbor’s out-of-town houseguests take up all the parking spaces on your block, be polite. Make sure everyone is asleep before slashing tires of out-of-state cars. Do this around 4 AM, and keep a straight face when daylight comes and you “tsk” and pretend you don’t know a thing about it. This will preserve neighborhood goodwill during the rest of our long, hot summer.
5. Do not abuse tourists on the National Mall who ask where all the stores are. Calmly direct them to the Agriculture Department and other nearby spots where the clerks might be lonely.
6. Do not give out-of-town drivers directions to head the wrong way into one-way rush-hour traffic on Rock Creek Parkway. Sure it’s fun, but . . . okay, just don’t do it too often.
7. Don’t tell the kids on high school senior trips they can get cheap cigarettes and guns in Virginia. Some of our DC neighbors make good money selling those items to the kids at a mark-up. Since the kids don’t pay local sales tax — they buy everything else at the Smithsonian Shops and eat in the Smithsonian cafeterias — that might be their only contribution to the District’s economy.
8. Pretend you believe tourism shills when they say tourists are vital to the District’s well-being. Let them think you don’t know that most visitors stay in cheap suburban motels and pay no DC hotel tax, destroy street paving with their motor coaches, think a living international city is a theme park and act accordingly, and are a general blight on the landscape. Nod your head and pretend you believe tourism brings local economic benefits instead of aggravation. It doesn’t cost anything to be polite.
Image by Mike Licht. Download a version here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com