taking the passive out of passive-aggressive

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Down where I work, you see only two kinds of people: Office People and Tourist People. The Office People blend together--the men in their tan pants and blue shirts and sunglasses, and the women in their skirts and black heels. We Office People emerge from buildings at lunch and try and weave our way as quickly as possible through the mobs of slow-moving Tourist People in order to get lunch, or go to the bank, of for god's sake smoke a cigarette. The Tourist People are unfazed by our hurry. They move at their own pace, six abreast, and stop suddenly in front of you for no apparent reason. They are usually either quite large or have an inexplicable number of children, or both. And they are infuriating.

I can't even understand why anyone would be a Tourist in Baltimore in the first place. "Oh, honey, let's go to Baltimore and stay in a hotel for a coupla days and take a gander at that Hard Rock Cafe they got going over there." Sure, Baltimore has its charms, but they are not to be found anywhere on the promende between the ghastly screaming of the ESPN Zone and the sad little carousel at Rash Field. But there they are, tourists, wandering along the power-washed brick sidewalk, staring slackjawed at the paddleboats.

I've no identified several distinct types of tourists:
1. Tiffany and Don: Tiffany and Don are the youngish couple you see who look very angry and yell at their kids a lot. "MADISON! MADISON! YOU GET YOUR LITTLE BUTT BACK HERE!" Tiffany still looks good in a I-go-tanning-and-get-my-nails-done kinda way. Don's going to seed a bit, but still looks like he can Party. (And they both use party as a verb.) I suspect that these are daytrippers, visiting the city from their rural developments in Carroll County or wherever.
2. Grandma and Embarassed Middle Aged Daughter: Grandma stops suddenly for no apparent reason and asks complete strangers things like "Do you know where I kin get a crab claw?" while her long-suffering middle-aged daughter looks on and sighs.
3. Casey, Tracey, and Stacy: These are the teenage girls who walk around in long chains and giggle, because it's clearly the first time they've been allowed to walk around an urban area by themselves. They wear too much makeup and low-slung jeans and look at boys and then quickly look away. They brandish cell phones like shields.
4. Guy On A Cart: Why is it that the old or fat people on carts are usually by themselves? It's heartbreaking.
5. The Very Big Multi-Generational Fat Family with One Skinny Relative: I don't know why this is, but every morbidly obese tourist family always, always has one absurdly stick-thin member of their group. You can imagine them thinking "I always thought Marge had a thing for the postman and that little waif is proof."
6. Sullen Teenage Boys: This is a type I remember from my childhood--the sullen, somewhat rebellious-looking gaggle of sixteen-year-old boys. Sometimes they carry skateboards but more often than not they just try and look threatening, with unintentionally amusing results.

There they are, the families of America, bringing their slow-walkin' selves to my workaday life, all wearing white tennis shoes and not having all that much fun. Clogging up the line at my favorite chain restaurants, arguing over what to eat and where to go and why are their children not listening to them. Staring at me as I sit and smoke sullenly in front of my building, maybe even knowing from the way I look at them that at some point, I'm going to write something about them, and it might not be all that nice.


At 4:54 PM, Blogger dogfaceboy said...

We have a special distinction in our house. The Boardwalk Family. It's at least three generations of women and children, most of whom wear flip flops and chew gum and talk loudly.

BTW, do you know that Europeans can actually tell who's American by the shoes? We're the only ones in sneakers.

At 8:31 AM, Blogger LingLing said...

Your post made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

BTW, dogfaceboy--that's not the only way they can tell us apart. As someone in london once said to me, " But you can't be American. You don't have a camera and you're not fat".

At 6:18 AM, Blogger The Cybrarian said...

You forgot the Hapless Conventioneers-- guys and gals who belong to some group or association too small or broke to go to Vegas. This includes the Association of School Principals, the Women's Empowerment Conference and The Bankruptcy Institute. (I'm actually completely serious).

At 2:05 PM, Blogger chang said...

In Boston we have the same problem. the tourists always hit Faneuil Hall which is a fried food emporium in an old historic building. full of rats and fats.

They always clogged the area when I worked down there, especially in the summer. Just imposssible to maneuver around. curse them.


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