Rude Tourists

People who don’t live in New York City generally have certain opinions about the people who do live here–even if they’ve never visited at all.  Without fail, when I visit my parents and siblings in North Carolina, people will approach me and whinily say things like, “How can you stand all those rude people that live in New York City?”  (Keep in mind that, in my hometown, “New York City” is almost always pronounced the same way that the cowboys from the Pace Picante sauce commercials say it.)

Because in my hometown I somehow have a reputation as an angelic being who can do no wrong (despite the fact that this is laughable at best), I generally have to bite my tongue to stop myself from saying things like “I think it’s more rude that you’d assume such a thing.  How would you like it if I asked you something like ‘How can you stand the constant aroma of cow patties around here’ or ‘Why doesn’t anyone wear anything other than ugly jean cutoff shorts’ or ‘Why don’t any of you people have an IQ higher than 5?'”

In my opinion, I think it’s probably the tourists who are the rude ones.  Today, for instance, as I was trying to hastily find something for lunch while heading into the office, I darted across 6th Avenue to McDonald’s just because it was the only thing I could think of, not to mention one of the few places that was open on a Saturday.  Unsurprisingly, the place was absolutely packed with tourists.

I had the distinct displeasure of standing behind a tremendously fat woman with a triangular red hairdo that was a little reminiscent of Bozo the Clown’s wig. As we stood in line, this woman began to point at the menu board and screech to nobody in particular, “SIX DOLLARS for a BIG MAC COMBO?!”  The concept of inflated prices was apparently so foreign to this corpulent woman that she actually pulled out her cell phone and called someone–I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was someone named “Dolly” or “Marlene” somewhere in Wyoming or Nebraska–to inform them of this highway robbery.

“Can you believe they’re charging six whole dollars for a fast food combo meal?!” she said.  She proceeded to read off nearly the entire menu to whoever was on the line, since clearly this was fascinating and possibly worthy of a write-up in the Hicksville Pitchfork-Tribune.

What truly cemented this woman’s hick status for me was what happened next.  When the bored-looking girl behind the register asked her for her order, the woman (who I’m now going to call Dorleen Lumpkins, just because it’s funny to say) began to speak very slowly and very loudly to her in the same sort of way you’d speak to someone with a hearing impairment.  It’s also the same sort of way that morons speak to people who don’t speak English as a first language or to blind people–since everyone knows that if you’re blind, you can’t hear, either. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Dorleen also tried to crudely mime her order.

“I WOULD LIKE…” she began, pointing towards herself, “A CUP OF COFF-EEEEEE.”  She made a gesture that looked like she was rocking a baby to sleep for no apparent reason.

“I WOULD ALLLSOOO LIKE…” she continued, “ONE!” (she held up one finger just inches from the clerk’s face) “HAMMMMMBURRRRRGERRRRRRRR.”  She made a gesture that looked like she was trying to pry open an alligator’s mouth.

I was so horrified by this whole display that I’m still ashamed that I witnessed it at all, mainly because the girl behind the register was quite obviously Italian-American and clearly spoke English as a first language.  For a split-second, I almost became the reason that non-New Yorkers apparently think New Yorkers are rude, because I very much wanted to punch Dorleen in the uterus–that, or say to her, “She speaks English, you double-chinned dolt.  Just tell her your order and sit down, because your Kmart stretch pants look like they’re about to explode.”

I did neither of those things, though, mainly since I got the last laugh anyway–I’m not the one who has to get on a plane and fly back to Middle of Nowhere, North Dakota.

—2009