Chronic Tourism

As a West Coast native and a naive, selfish aspiring snob, I can’t tell you how gleefully I used to denigrate tourists when I was a teenager. When flocks of glaringly white Midwesterners showed up in their plaid Bermuda shorts wearing black socks with their white high tops during the vicious West Coast winter months, I cruelly (albeit quietly) mocked them incessantly.

I was an asshole when I was young.

Now that I have this travel addiction going on, I realize that I’m a chronic tourist.

I hate that moniker. But it’s absolutely accurate, like it or not.

When my family and I went to Paris, I rode them to no end about proper clothing, footwear, social customs, and table etiquette. I’m very sensitive to other people and hate offending others unintentionally. It’s also part of my thirst for understanding and, thus, my obsessive research before I launch myself into a new destination.

Guess what? My family and I undoubtedly committed any number of faux pas, and I’d be willing to bet that at least one Parisian was overcome with laughter or scorn as a result of our foibles.

Then again, Parisians have that reputation, don’t they?

When I think of people mocking or ridiculing me as a tourist, I cringe. Why? Probably part of it is just plain old guilt: I was once guilty of being a jerk, and undoubtedly giving others a reason to be a jerk singes my fee fees. But more importantly, I don’t want people to judge my country or even my home region by my actions. That makes me really sad….I’m NOT a good representative of America if I can’t respect and follow the traditions and culture of another country, right?

And yet, now I’m a chronic tourist. I’ll never get it precisely right. Undoubtedly, I’ll put my chopsticks in the wrong place at the sushi bar in Kobe, or I’ll improperly cross the threshold of a temple in Bali, or my headscarf will slip off my wispy-haired head in Bahrain.

I take comfort in the fact that I’m one of millions of American tourists around the world, tourists who do it right and don’t screw up left and right. And that, as a result, I’ll be forgotten.

Unlike that poor bastard from Oklahoma at Disneyland back in ’88.

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About the Author Hinky

Hink is an aspiring traveler plotting global domination and looking for the funny.