Open letter to DC visitors

Hello and welcome,
I hope that you are enjoying our fair city be it for work or leisure. As you walk around the unfamiliar settings I understand that you might have questions. Seeing me with my tags as I come from or go to work, you may confuse me with a tour guide. I am not. Yet I am willing to answer two questions. Two. One main question and one follow up to clarify the first question.
Also do not assume that just because I work downtown that I actually know where anything is. When I was a student at UMCP I knew where 5 buildings were on campus. I was aware of other buildings but since I didn’t have to go in them, I didn’t bother remembering their names. Downtown is similar, if I don’t go in it, don’t have to go in it, or don’t relate to it, I don’t know where it is. Lucky for you I am okay with not knowing and will say so. Also, there are people in red jackets, that say “Downtown” on them, and they are there to answer questions. They are good for when you’ve forgotten where the Payless and the Wachovia are and sometime they can tell you if the bus you wanted just passed.
Also don’t get testy with me when you ask where the Smithsonian is and I say “on the mall” or ask “which one?” The Smithsonian is an institution with several museums. You mean the Castle? Well it’s on the mall.
Thank you.

7 thoughts on “Open letter to DC visitors”

  1. Gurl, it looks like you have the ‘visitor center information desk gene’ like I do. I am a tourist target as well. You and I have that special something that makes us approachable to tourists, but not potential dates, unfortunately. It’s that whole Andy Griffith appeal I guess.

    You’re going to have to resign yourself to these advances for information, it’s your desitiny as it is mine as well. You must embrace it.

    I don’t even fight it anymore. I just smile and answer their questions. Even if they ask the same question 3 times in a row, just to be sure.

  2. I’m with artisan,
    My quess is that you put out an approachable, compentent and trust worthy aura… i think it’s complement to you.


  3. crap, i guess i’m a crazy magnet and a tourist magnet. thankfully, i’m pretty good at giving directions! i don’t mind trying to point people in the right direction. i’ve always wanted to try to diffuse the east coast reputation for unfriendliness (and, compared to the midwest, i think it’s unfortunately true).

  4. I got no problem answering that one question of “where is…” and a follow up. Maybe a second unrelated question. But I get annoyed after the 3rd question.
    I was outside work waiting to cross the street when this guy with a blind guy asked a question. I think he asked what my building was. I told him and mentioned what touristy cultural stuff was in it. “Hummm, what’s that building over there?” pointing a block over. I told him and mentioned what touristy things were in it. Then he pointed to some other federal building. I did not know what the building was, and had to squint to make out the sign. This was question 3. This was the point where I got annoyed with the blind guy’s friend and tried to figure out how I could politly get the heck out of this conversation. Question #4, “where’s the Smithsonian?”….. [pointing] “on the mall,” [as I walk away and cross the street].
    I did work at the Vistor Services Desk, and to this day I can tell you that the bathrooms are down the stairs and to the left. But, I no longer work at the visitors desk. So why should I smile when people ask more than 2 questions?

  5. Gloom and doom here. My friends were visiting from NC this weekend, and I can’t tell you how many people heard the strong accent and tried to pull a fast one on the three of us. I am sad and ashamed. It probably reinforced their ideas that the big bad city is big and bad. And it put me in a bad mood too.

Comments are closed.