A little sarcasm, a lot of love

  • Cartoon of tourists in a tour jeep

    Jim Stiles
  • Cartoon of a tourist couple

    Jim Stiles
 

I love tourists. I love everything about them. They are the mainstay of our economy and the joy of my life. They buy my newspaper even when I pick on them. What? Me pick on tourists?

For example, I love the way they turn left onto Center Street from the right-hand lane on Main. I love their colorful outfits, even their imitation straw hats with purple feathers in them. I love the way they are so moved by the beauty of the canyons that they stop in the middle of the pavement at Arches National Park and take pictures of the magnificent scenery while cars approaching from behind slam on their brakes and skid into the adjacent embankment. I love the way they innocently fail to grasp the concept of going to the back of the line at City Market. I love it when European tourists walk up to the clerks at City Market and say, "It is not possible for you to take Deutsch marks?" That is so darn cute.

Sometimes they try my patience. Still, I love it when tourists come into an air-conditioned restaurant on a hot August afternoon and say, "We don't want to order anything ... we brought our own food. We'd just like to have a picnic in here." Or when they send back an order because they wanted the ham on the bread, then the lettuce, then the cheese, not the other way around.

And sometimes they go too far. Yet you have to admire their ingenuity when they carve their names in a rock, right next to an ancient petroglyph and when caught in the act, respond by accusing the Anasazis of vandalism, too.

Some of this is intended to be sarcastic.

I love it when a tourist pulls up to the entrance station at Arches, thrusts a map into the hands of the ranger on duty and asks just where exactly he is on that map. And the map is of Bryce Canyon.

I love it when tourists say, "Cool! Rad! Far-out! Awesome (dude)! Buff!" And "like" 53 times in one minute.

I love it when grown men and women walk around in royal-blue tights.

In short ... I simply love tourists.

Despite all that, there are those who question the affection of my newspaper for our visiting friends.

But I insist. I love tourists. My life has been inextricably linked to tourists for years. When I was a ranger at Arches, I met more memorable people than I otherwise could have hoped to meet in a lifetime. From one end of the spectrum to the other, from the very best to the very worst.

Consider, for example, the man from Canada, who woke me in the middle of the night to tell me that some "Neanderthals' were keeping him awake with their music. I found what I believed to be the offenders, shut down their boom box and went back to the trailer. The man was back, five minutes later.

"If you won't do your job, ranger, I will!" he screamed.

"But they turned off their music," I replied.

"Those were the hippies; I wanted you to discipline the Neanderthals!'

In Moab, Utah, Jim Stiles publishes the monthly Canyon Country Zephyr, whose motto reads: "All the news that causes fits." This paean to tourists appeared in the September 1994 issue.

Note: the opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of High Country News, its board or staff. If you'd like to share an opinion piece of your own, please write Betsy Marston at [email protected].

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