They’re here. The tourists, that is. Actually, they’re everywhere. Because I love this little town and I love the people who live and work here, I am glad that the tourists are here. There do seem to be quite a bit more of them than last year, probably due to the fact that it is so hot everywhere else in the world and, though it is still hot here, it’s nothing like other parts of the Southeast. Additionally, everyone is afraid of being attacked by rogue tarballs in Florida, so no one is heading that way this summer either.
So, they’ve come here. Driving slowly and weaving around as they look at the mountains. Ignoring everyone else around them. Walking down the center of the aisle at the grocery store or spreading out all across the sidewalk like…..like…..like they’ve got all the time in the world. Like they’re on vacation or something. Yeah, I know, THEY ARE on vacation. And I’m not. And neither are all of the people employed in vocations that interface with them. And yet sometimes……not all the time and not with every single person that comes….. but sometimes it sure does seem that there are a few tourists who have a kind of frontal lobotomy before coming on their trip.
I’ve never lived in a town that had tourists before. I mean, certainly, there were travelers that came to the other places I’ve lived. They were, after all Bigger City and Really Big City and lots of people come to big cities. However, vacationers in a tourist town are different. I have not traveled extensively, at least in comparison to those whom I know who have traveled extensively, but I have seen this kind of tourist zombie before. In other countries they’re called ugly Americans though I do not know what we should call them here. I think Tourist Zombies does work quite well. They complain about people in Mexico and France not speaking English. They are rude and loud and critical and, from time to time, downright insulting. They sometimes seem to think that every local person is part of a Disney-style diorama installed for their critique and photo-op.
Somehow, I think they probably do not behave like this at home and are under some kind of inordinate stress brought about by the rigors of travel and the strain of waiting for the next highway exit with a McDonald’s and a bathroom, or close quarters with family members to whom they would like to do bodily harm. Perhaps they do not realize that the store-clerk they are speaking with is not an animatronic machine at Epcot but is, in fact, a real live human just like them. Maybe the fact that they did not pack their entire brain for the trip causes the inability to function like a normal person.
Granted, I am not being fair to the majority of visitors to this area. Most come here because the love it here. The majority come here because they love the beauty of the mountains, the culture, the pace of life and so much more. Many love it so much that they move here on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. I agree with them–I love it here, too, and think it is the most beautiful place in the world.
So, perhaps the Zombie Tourist is a reminder for everyone and, I will confess, a reminder to myself as well: when packing for vacation, please do not forget your frontal lobe.