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nyctourists-01.jpgAhh, the holidays in NYC.  Maybe I should rephrase this and say “Ahh, Christmas in NYC” because, let’s face it, no one gives a shit about Hanukah and, being a Jew, I am trying to talk myself into thinking that other people are still celebrating Hanukah these days (or at least acknowledging it).  There are few things better this time of year than strolling around my favorite neighborhoods in downtown NYC: Soho, Nolita, and the West Village (basically anywhere below 14th street).  How silly of me to think that people have not found out about the great food, shops, culture and beautiful architecture that these downtown neighborhoods possess, especially tourists.

The conflict that tourists create lies within the struggle of needing tourism to sustain our economy yet having no tolerance for the tourists and the baggage they bring, literally and figuratively.  It is a necessary evil that New Yorkers have resigned themselves to dealing with, and I really try to take it in stride.  I mean, now more than ever, we need people to come here and spend some cash, so that I don’t have to.  And while I know we need them, I can’t help but single out the family visiting from Denmark with their matching Helli-Hansen parkas or the couple from Jersey pretending to be hip by hanging out downtown, only to end up at Shrek on Broadway, as particularly deserving of my scorn.  Of course, it wouldn’t be so bad if they would just get out of my way.

30rock_tree.JPGI often wonder if these tourists know how annoying they truly are.  From walking with their heads in the clouds (instead of looking straight ahead) to taking up the whole sidewalk, there’s simply no end to the annoyance. A family of five walks side-by-side, not to mention moving at the speed of a tortoise.  Two middle-aged women from Indiana walk into Madewell (a hip jeans store) where the sales girls are no older than 21 (and all hail from Staten Island) only to ask where some high end Italian furniture store is.  As if these girls have any clue.  But rest assured, I steer clear of Old Navy, Victoria’s Secret and American Eagle since you can always find some Midwest family bum rushing those stores (because god knows they don’t have those stores back in Ohio nestled right next to the food court).

lower_subway.gifThe piece de resistance is, of course, getting stopped and being asked for directions.  They need them and I’ve got them.  In truth, and this just might be the holidays talking, I do get some satisfaction out of knowing that I’ve lifted a weight off their back and made their lives so much easier (or at least their afternoon).  When I am with my boyfriend, I’m sure they find us quite humorous when we start arguing over which one of us has the better, easiest, quickest directions.  (What can I say; we’re a competitive couple.)  On the other hand, there are few things as disturbing as not being able to decipher what a native English speaker is trying to get out; I never knew “R train” was so hard to say with a Southern accent.

But, hey, at least they ask me for directions and not the girl with the fake Gucci bag and the Uggs.  What is it that makes me approachable?  Do I look like a native New Yorker?  Do I look like I know where I’m going?  Do I walk with an air of confidence?  Maybe they read knowledge in my willingness to walk right over them.  (Kind of conflicts with the Main Street idea that all New Yorkers are rude a-holes, but whatever.)  Either way, my love-hate relationship with tourists always turns a bit into “like” when they stop me to ask for directions.

The real annoyance here is also a story for another time.  If the vendors in my Park Slope neighborhood conducted themselves like normal proprietors should then I would never have to leave my neighborhood and venture into the city. I am so perplexed that there is all this talk about supporting your local business owner so they don’t go under, yet the majority of them are cash only places that open up after 2pm on a Wednesday, or whenever their Bikram yoga class ends.  Especially during the holiday season, you would think they would get their shit together and be readily available to shoppers.  Us locals have to get our shopping done, too.

3 Comments

  • 1

    Whenever I'm in the presence of tourists, I feel like I try and act more "New York-y". I'll walk a little faster and briskly brush them aside. I'll scowl at them and hope that they understand that I'm judging them. You know, just to give them the authentic New York experience.

  • 2

    I like to wear Hypercolor shirts, velcro-fly stonewashed tapered jeans, a Cross Colours baseball cap, and wear angular sunglasses, then pop out from behind alleyways in Times Square and shriek at tourists that I just came out of a time portal from 1989 NYC. I then proceed to beat them senseless and mug them.

  • 3

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