I happen to be one of the many people living on a rock that not only loves my rock but also makes a living from others who love my rock and visit it from time to time. This is why I believe it’s part of my duty as a guest in the beautiful country I call home to be a rock ambassador at all times. Well, maybe not at all times… but as often as I can muster the strength and patience required.
I understand that others do not wish to carry their metaphoric cheerleading pom poms around and that some are even just grumpy old sods, but I do get frustrated with those who complain constantly about “stupid” questions that tourists ask (as if they’ve never been a tourist or never asked a stupid question); who, when politely asked for advice, tell people to go do their research; or who huff, puff, and whine about being stuck in “traffic” (on my rock, that means a back of up 100 golf carts for about 3 minutes) because of all the “dumb” tourists.
We’ve all been tourists somewhere… at least I hope so. Bloody hell, if you haven’t, then you really do need to get a life. Many of us were once tourists on our own rock at some point. Either way, it’s funny how some choose to forget how they once found some things quaint and relaxing that they now dislike pathologically. Just because you no longer find watching the children walk home from school adorable and get annoyed at the pot lickers begging for food doesn’t mean that you didn’t once and that those that now do are doing it intentionally just to ruin your day. Honestly!
I do get asked the same questions over and over again. One of the most common is, “Do you like it here?” I do admit that instinct kicks in at times and I have to make a conscious effort to practice impulse control so that I don’t reply with, “What the fuck do you think? I live here because I hate it?” And I don’t say that, even if I think it. I smile sweetly and act as if it’s the first time anyone has asked me such a thoughtful and clever question and say, “Look around you. It’s beautiful. I love it.” And the truth is, I really do love it. So why should I find it annoying to share that with someone? Especially someone who contributes to the economy that helps to pay my bills?
As a self-appointed rock ambassador, I also contribute to online tourism forums where the same question is asked a million times. I try to be as genuine and enthusiastic every time I answer. I can never understand the people who actually choose to participate in these types of forums and reply to questions with “That question has been answered many times before. Use the search function and do some more research.” I’ve seen people be so rude to people who had the audacity to go on an online forum about a place they are thinking of visiting that I finally sucked it up and joined one that I thought I’d never join in a million years just so that they wouldn’t think everyone who lives here is insane, rude, bitter, or all of the above.
My advice to anyone who is starting to find themselves getting road rage on their rock, hating the sight of tourists, and losing patience with the “go slow” lifestyle that you once dreamed of is to take some time off and be a tourist on your own island again. Being stuck behind tourists who are driving slowly so that they can take in the scenery should be a pleasure because they are seeing the beauty in the place you choose to call home. We try to do that as often as we can and it reminds us of all those things we fell in love with so many years ago and enthuses us about wanting to share those things and tell people about them. Even if you don’t depend on the tourism income, don’t forget that many of the people who are welcoming you and allowing you to remain in their country, do. Don’t let the side down. Help them out a bit. Be a good rock ambassador. And, if you can’t, STFU. We’ll handle it.