Monday, July 28, 2014

"Pfft... [eye roll] Tourists!"

Growing up and going to Hawaii on family vacations, being spotted out as a tourist was my absolute worst nightmare.

Not sharks, not riptides, not being haunted by my poor choices in beach attire for many years to come. Exhibit A:

But really, I would probably buy that gold suit all over again if the Universe presented it.
No, I was most concerned that someone would spot me out as a landlocked haole. Not that it was difficult to guess that the family pulling up to the beach in the Hertz-rental minivan with matching Costco towels and Old Navy flip flops, reeking of Banana Boat, would be anything but island natives.

I would just die when someone would pronounce "Haleiwa" as "Hall--ee--ay--va" instead of "Hall--ay--ee--va." Or pretend that I needed absolutely no sunscreen and walk straight into the ocean, dusting some dirt off my shoulders, like I did it every day of my life.

Now, living in the most popular tourist destination in the world (can I get a big woot woot?) I still do everything I can to trick people into thinking I am a born and bred Londoner. I only look at tube maps with my peripheral vision so that people think I have every route on the London Underground completely committed to memory. I say "pardon" rather than "excuse me" when I'm trying to get around an extra large Primark bag on the left side of the escalator, and "cheers" when they actually do move to right where all stationary objects belong. I forego the free newspapers because I know the juicy stories about B-list royal family members are not worth the black fingerprints that I'm going to get all over my face because of it. And of course I always give a drawn-out exasperated sigh when someone can't figure out how they are supposed to use their Oyster card to get the horse-corral gates of the tube open.

So I guess what I am trying to say is that my desire to fit in has really just turned me into an impatient brat. And that's probably true. But! there is a reason why people who spend every day commuting, grocery shopping, and living real lives in big cities tend to be stereotyped as not-so-nice people. And it all comes down to having to deal with thousands of insufferable tourists.

Like tonight, Jason and I were coming home from a relaxing night of dinner in Jubilee park at Canary Wharf while watching a free production of Merry Wives of Windsor. And since we stayed late enough, we were lucky to get a pretty empty train to haul back all our picnics stuffs.

But just when we were starting to relax, our train stopped at Oxford Circus, and instead of seeing a smattering of tired commuters on the platform, there was a sea of foreign children in matching hats and lanyards, supervised by 3 or 4 of the most exasperated-looking adult chaperones I have ever seen in my life.

These kids--who I am sure had been told that if they didn't get on the train within two seconds of the doors opening that they would be transported to another dimension that had no snapchat and would be ruled by Voldemort--were wild-eyed and practically foaming at the mouth to get into the train.

Both Jason and I said "ohhh no" simultaneously as the train came to a stop. We had only moments before the floodgates opened and the field-tripping pre-teens descended like a plague of locusts.

As soon as the doors opened, the mob shoved their way through and frantically moved around into every and any space that could be occupied on the train. But instead of solemnly packing themselves into a corner where they could avoid eye contact and hopefully keep their nose out of someone's armpit like all the commuters do on my train every morning, they never stopped moving! It was like a cloud of electrons of the stinkiest, loudest, most-acne ridden molecule you could ever imagine.

And all the while, their chaperone is shouting in Italian to them to try to contain them. "Bippity boppity! No!! Maria! Bippity bippity boppity!!" And Jason and I sit with our elbows tucked as close into our bodies as possible, trying not to breathe or think about how close that twerking party is to our faces.

Then, just as soon as they descended, they get off at Bond Street and leave us picked down to nothing but our bare bones.