August 11, 2011

Vacation etiquette

At some point during this blogging hobby of mine, I will have the uncontrollable and undeniable urge to spew forth advice concerning any number of subjects or situations.  As some of you read through this, you may think this sounds a lot like complaining.  And to you, I say begone!  If you can't read this and mistakenly see it for the fake advice that it is, you won't genuinely appreciate it as such. 

Since I'm here in our nation's capital, an enormous melting pot of both residents and tourists, I decided to take this opportunity to slowly stick my big toe in and test the water.  This will be my trial run at giving "advice".

Picture ruiners:  This city is filled with national museums, historical sites, amazing architecture, and beautiful landscaping.  Everyone has crazy ridiculous cameras and 12 pound lenses nowadays, so we take pictures of everything!  It's like we all suffer from short term memory loss and we can't remember things we have seen unless we capture physical proof.  Let’s try to follow a few simple rules of etiquette when taking pictures and/or are in the vicinity of others taking pictures.

1.      Don’t stand 2 inches in front of the statute or painting you are photographing thus eliminating any possibility that others can also take a picture as well.  Also, I’m sure your 12 pound lens has 10 x zoom on it, so you don’t really need to be that close.

2.    Don’t spend 5 minutes staring at and photographing said statute or painting, which also eliminates any possibility that others can take a picture and enjoy the statute or painting.  No one needs 43 pictures of the giant sloth skeleton at the Natural History Museum.
On a similar note, don’t decide that the best place for you to stop and take a rest is right in front of one of these statutes or paintings.  You are ruining the whole experience for all of us.

3.    Watch where you are walking!  No one wants you strolling into their family picture in front of the Lincoln Memorial or a blurry image of your arm in front of their sepia toned picture of the National Gallery of Art fountain.

Walkers:  This may sound odd... right?  How could I possibly complain... err, give advice... about people walking?  The way I see it, you should walk on the sidewalk the same way you drive on the road.  And don’t stroll down the middle of the sidewalk making others walk in the grass or the street. 

Sign disobeyers:  Even though you may not speak or have the ability to read English, there is no excuse for this behavior.  Most of the public places we visited had very simple signs with symbols telling everyone not to touch things or not to use photography.  You may not be able to read “Do Not Touch!” or “No Photography”, but a picture of a camera with a red slash through it is a universal symbol.  Don’t play dumb with the “foreign” card. 

Unruly children:  Oh yes...  you know who you are.  Did you really think that your children would behave in the middle of a museum gift shop or near the fountain at the World War II Memorial when they clearly don’t listen to a word you are saying?  There are signs at these sites requesting quiet, respectful behavior for a reason.  Your child throwing a temper tantrum ruins the experience for me and everyone else there trying to relish in the moment.
If your child cannot behave, and you are incapable of quieting them, remove them from the environment.  This is plain and simple.  I realize that you and your children would also like to play the tourist role and see the sites, but it’s completely unfair for you to ruin everyone else’s vacation.  My only request is that you respect your fellow tourists.

Now that I have provided you with some simple rules of vacation etiquette, please feel free to share your most ridiculous vacation stories! 

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