I work in the hospitality industry, so I encounter tourists on a daily basis. I find meeting new people very fulfilling, so overall, this job is a great fit for my personality. While I may live on a small island, working in tourism allows me to come into contact with people from all walks of life and is an excellent way to broaden my perspective – and hear some really entertaining stories along the way.
The majority of our country’s income is generated through tourism and thus, I feel like it’s every islander’s responsibility to play a positive role in welcoming visitors to our rock. I try to keep this in mind when moving about the island, exercising patience in small ways such as giving tourists the right of way in traffic. I give them the benefit of the doubt because maybe the dividing lines aren’t painted (and they don’t know that it should be a 2 lane road) or the sign is so obscure that they don’t know they can’t turn right at a particular intersection. I think we could all stand to be nicer in traffic anyway.
That being said, I am certainly not above the frustrations that so many experience when dealing with an influx of tourists. Sometimes you come across ignorant people who say ignorant things that irk you. Word to the wise: telling me that I “speak so well” and that I “can’t possibly be from the island” because of said speech is not a compliment.
Unfortunately, my job’s requirement of professionalism outranks my desire to resort to sarcasm. So whenever a tourist, however well-meaning, pushes my buttons, I suck it up and save the sass for the audience in my head alone…
TOURIST: (after calling to tell me she forgot something in the condo and where she thinks it might be) “So, have you been in the condo before? Do you know the layout?”
WHAT I WANT TO SAY: “Hmmm… Well, I have been working here for over 8 years, but no, this place is a complete mystery to me. Please, tell me more about it!”
WHAT I ACTUALLY SAY: “Yes, I do. I’ll go look for it.”
TOURIST: (Trying to give me their number after they already told me they are calling from Missouri) “So, it’s a US number…”
WHAT I WANT TO SAY: “Really? I thought you were talking about Missouri, Australia! Thank goodness you clarified that!”
WHAT I ACTUALLY SAY: “Ok, go ahead…”
TOURIST: “How long will it keep raining?”
WHAT I WANT TO SAY: “That guy in the sky told me it would just be for 20 minutes today. He promised, so go ahead and make all the plans you want – I guarantee no more rain!”
WHAT I ACTUALLY SAY: “Usually around this time of year, it won’t last too long, unless we have some sort of system in the area.”
TOURIST: “My wife likes to go topless and it doesn’t seem like that is okay here on your property. We both also like to wear thongs too. Can we just wear whatever we want since we’re guests here?”
WHAT I WANT TO SAY: “Dude, please no. That’s really too much information. I’m getting a visual I really don’t want.”
WHAT I ACTUALLY SAY: “We have children on property, so it might not be that good of an idea. You could go to Orient Bay which is the official nude beach and enjoy your freedom there.”
TOURIST: “My computer was stolen from my car! I left it on the backseat because no one was around and it seemed safe.”
WHAT I WANT TO SAY: “It wasn’t stolen, you gave it away. Would you leave your valuables in your parked car at home? Please don’t leave your brain at home when you come on vacation.”
WHAT I ACTUALLY SAY: “That’s a shame. Unfortunately, leaving things in your car in plain sight isn’t a good idea.”
On the bright side, I am grateful for the comic relief these tourists provide. While I may not say them aloud, my sarcastic retorts in my head do give me a little chuckle on a trying day.
A friend of mine overheard a conversation in Miami between some tourists (on their way to St. Maarten) and a bus driver…
TOURIST: “We’re going to St. Maarten!”
BUS DRIVER: “That’s nice. Have you been there before?”
TOURIST: “We’ve been going there for many years – we even understand when they speak now!”
BUS DRIVER: “Really? What language do they speak there?”
Seriously. Gotta love ’em!
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Okay, confession time: What do you wish you could *honestly* say to tourists sometimes when you’re asked ridiculous questions on your rock?