An Open Letter to Tourists

As residents, we worship the ground you walk on. We sweep the streets in front of you like a curling match, just so you don’t have to step on a particle of dirt. We dress for you, we smile for you, and we hold the door for you.

People assume we care. We don’t, not really. We’re in it for the money—the money it brings for us and the money it brings to our town. You’re our livelihood—the livelihood of our parents and our grandparents, but you take advantage of that.

We’re big into small town hospitality, but you don’t get that. You take our parking spots and almost hit us as we cross the street. You come from a big city or a rich suburb where you’re used to getting things your way.

You have a sense of entitlement. You know we’re not a sustainable environment without you, the tourist, and you’re 100% right. But, that’s not an excuse to do whatever you want. You’re not a stockholder and we’re not your stocks. We’re people.

We’re a group of people who support your good time. We tailor our restaurant menus to fit your needs and we’re the people that use our blistered hands to build your five-star hotels from the ground up so you have a comfortable place to stay. We’re the people pumping your stomach when you have too many shots of well liquor at the local dive bar and we’re the people who Zamboni the ice every few hours to give you a good show.

We may not survive without you, but there’s a reason you come to us. We know how to take care of you. Everything we do, we do for you. But what do you do for us? You buy stuff or tip us a little extra, but you don’t recognize us. You don’t realize we know you. We see you every year. We remember if you tip 15 or 20% or if you like Bourbon or Vodka, but you don’t remember us. We all look the same to you. Background noise during your vacation. An annoyance when we forget that you didn’t want tomatoes in your salad or that we couldn’t reserve the exact seat you wanted. It’s not just about you. It’s about both of us, working together. It’s best to be kind.

What you give, I promise you’ll get back.

All we want is respect and equality. Just because you probably have more money than we do, doesn’t mean you work harder. It means you weren’t afraid to step on the little people along the way. And you’re doing it to us now.

Don’t look at the local gas station worker like he’s a leper. He’s a father of four, who’s been sober since the birth of his first daughter. He’s your spectacle so he can pay for their school supplies. You just stare, judging him. He could be like you, if he tried hard enough.

Or, you could just say hello and acknowledge that he’s doing a good job.

It’s all about small town hospitality. Stopping at crosswalks, letting people cross when possible. Waving to say thank you. You don’t do that.

You’re probably reading this thinking, I don’t do that. Well, you do. I’ve seen you, we all have—looking at your phone to find your way, not caring whether or not there’s a stroller or a teenager in your way. You could let someone else go first for a change.

Maybe you don’t mean to be an asshole, but you are. You don’t act like a guest, but like an invasive species, storming the streets, and taking what you think you deserve.

Here’s my advice: Get to know the people that live here. Try to blend in, instead of sticking out. Appreciate what we do and we’ll appreciate what you do. Hospitality.

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