I do not hate tourists

As promised, today I'm taking the day off and not writing a column. So you will find no column from me in this space, don't even look for it. Thank you for your patience.

Instead, I would like to address an important concern brought to me in letters from readers accusing me of - let me see here - accusing me of being "juvenile, obnoxious, tactless and silly."

I must pause here to protest that I am not tactless.

But to resume. I am being accused of having the mind of a 6-year-old, of having a bad attitude (no contest), of being too sarcastic, and of violating AP style repeatedly in this writing.

But the primary complaint seems to be with my dislike of tourists and the tourist industry, especially as those wonderful things touch earth here in southern New Jersey.

Well, if you will pardon a bit more self reference, I will make one more explanation and then step quietly offstage into the darkened wings, where probably I will trip over something and you'll hear several hilarious crashing sounds and shattering glass.

I wish to declare, here before you, now and forevermore, that I do not hate tourists. Please note this. I do not even dislike tourists. Many of my best friends are tourists. I have been a tourist myself.

And I know the tourist experience. I know the feeling of wandering around blind lost among strangers, in a place you've never been, feeling so awkward and conspicuous that it's like you're wearing a bright orange pyramid-shaped hat to announce your status, and a bright orange shirt emblazoned with "Stand Clear: Idiot Tourist Approaching."

I know how it feels to make an uncertain turn while driving, nearly causing a six-car pile-up because you didn't notice the light had turned red during your deliberations.

I know the tourist's dependence on the kindness of strangers, and the tourist's complete defenselessness should those strangers direct him to, say, Captain Starns Restaurant for dinner.

If I have ever said anything negative about tourists or the tourist industry, it's because I wish we could all get along. My paramount objective in the annual tourist invasion is to preserve the union of humankind - regardless of status, tourist or local - and is not either to preserve or to destroy tourism.

If I could preserve this union without destroying tourism I would do it. If I could preserve it by destroying tourism in some places and leaving the rest of it alone, I would also do that.

I shall do less whenever I believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.

These words sound familiar, somehow, but they go to the heart of the matter.

So. That is settled. I hope.

Now, back to silliness. Next week: Tourist Disinformation Techniques and Creative Rudeness.

Just kidding.

© Rob Laymon

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