Yesterday our dear friend Moe carolled the news that there are only 75 more cruise ships docking at the foot of our street before the season ends on October 31. Now what she didn’t mention was that often there will be three (and one day four) ships in at once. And on those days, along with the tourists who arrive by other means, our town of 45,000 will see upwards of 10,000 visitors. And most of them will pass by our front door.
Now understand that these are not unwelcome visitors – potatoes, fisheries and tourism are the foundation of our economy. Though lest you think that lobster chowder chocked full of potatoes eaten by visitors is our only industry we do have thriving aerospace, bio-science, IT, and renewable energy sectors. But tourism is up there as a principal source of revenue and seasonal employment for the good folk who live here.
Most tourists Nora, Nicky and I meet on our walks (and believe me those two are real conversation magnets) are wonderful people – witness that lovely lady from Saskatchewan who gave us the jar of Saskatoon Berry jam. And the number of dachshund owners/lovers/admirers we encounter can lead to conversations that extend our walks by twenty-thirty minutes. And the people I take through the exhibits at the Art Gallery are interesting and charming to chat with. And most appreciate the explanations and the chance to express their own impressions and opinions. Interactions with our visitors are often the high point of a day.
However, and you knew there had to be a however, this season a new sort of tourist has appeared more frequently on our streets – aggressive, entitled, and it would seem in grim pursuit of a vacation experience. These are the people who barge along and don’t share the sidewalk – on more than one occasion I have had to walk into the street with Nick or Nora. These are the people who when you greet them with a “good afternoon” give you a defiant glare as if you planned to rob them. These are the people like the gentleman who not only parked in our spot illegally but felt that it was okay to relieve himself in full sight at five in the afternoon in one of the building flower beds. These are people like the lady who when I suggested that her small daughter should not be running up and down our fire escape and onto our balcony told me to go do something extremely acrobatic that is only anatomically possible for well-favoured* gentlemen.
At first I thought it was just me being the old curmudgeon that I am but in speaking with others they have see the same sort of thing. They’ve noticed a sort of tension amongst many of the visitors. Perhaps it is the general mood of uncertainty that seems to permeate so much today. But often I find it is the case that people don’t respect that this is our home.
We will be leaving shortly for Europe to become tourists ourselves but I trust we have never been nor will we ever be “ugly” tourists. That we will always respect the fact that the place we are visiting is “home” to people and that we are guests in their home.
*Not that I am not well-favoured just that I’m not as supple as I use to be! Okay???
August 29th is International Day Against Nuclear Test – a worthy observation. It is also National Chop Suey Day which is what we will all become if they continue nuclear testing.