I, Tourist

I took a bite out of The Big Apple a few weeks ago.  As anyone who has been to New York City can confirm, the sheer number of people on the streets is astounding.   Fully half of them work for tour bus companies.

My sister Lib, my kids (ages 19 and 21) and I couldn’t walk ½ a block without being accosted by a hungry cadre of tour bus pitchmen.  Two guys from rival companies engaged in mortal combat. for the chance to show us the sights.  When last I saw them on the corner of Broadway and 42nd St., the Gray Line guy had the City Sights guy in a chokehold I don’t think he was going to escape.

Zealous salesmen also accosted us in Chinatown, but they were pushing fashion accessories.  We came up from the bowels of the subway, squinting into the bright, June sunlight. I had barely cleared the top step when the first little Chinese woman got right up in my personal space: “You want purse?  We got Coach, Kate Spade, I get you real cheap.  You come with me now?” 

Apparently something about my trusty Mickey Mouse fanny-pack was offensive to those living in Chinatown, because by the end of the block I had been accosted by no less than 17 people promising all sorts of designer handbags at low, low prices. 

I felt like I was living that scene in Airplane where Robert Stack encounters an endless stream of panhandlers in the airport.  At the end he’s practically running, judo-chopping a Hare Krishna dude and gut-punching someone collecting for Jerry’s kids.

It got so my kids walked ½ a block behind Lib and me to avoid being contaminated by the Tourist Taint.

They were way too cool to carry a map.  However, they didn’t want to be lost forever in the endless blocks of Chinese restaurant supply stores through which we wandered, so they texted me to find out which way to turn at upcoming corners. 

The thing I don’t understand is – the bus people, the handbag people – how did they know I was a tourist?   What gave me away? 

A side-by-side comparison of me and Carrie Bradshaw, that iconic, albeit fictional New York sophisticate, shows we accessorize the same way.

Carrie courtesy of "Sex & The City", tourist sculpture courtesy of Duane Hanson, "Tourists II"

                                Carrie                                                    Me

1) Head          black straw-hat                           foam Statue of Liberty visor
2) Belt            black cargo belt                           Mickey Mouse fanny pack
3) Bag             Aubergine leather satchel          I Love NY Aqua souvenir tote
4) Feet           strappy Jimmy Choo sandals    Easy Spirit Funtimers w/Dr.Scholl’s inserts
5) Read          Vogue & Cosmo                            subway map, street map, discount coupons
6) Wear          fun & flirty designer outfit         fun & flirty K-Mart outfit

I guess New Yorkers have some sort of sixth sense that tells them who is an outsider.

We decided to do the double-decker bus tour after all.  You can get on and off again at all the major landmarks.  Like I told the kids as they slouched in the back row, shielding their faces with newspapers, native New Yorkers take these all the time.  The pitchman  said our savings in taxi fares that day would more than pay the $80-per-head ticket price!  

And in the end, I couldn’t pass up the chance to own a genuine Kate Spade bag for only $19.95.   I didn’t even know she made fanny packs.

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About pegoleg

R-A-M-B-L-I-N-G-S, Ram...Blin!
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30 Responses to I, Tourist

  1. Jane says:

    Sounds like a great trip! Those double decker bus tours are the best!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It was fun, but our dream of hopping on and off all day didn’t really pan out. We hopped off to go on the Ellis Island tour, which took most of the day with line time, then hopped around on the broiling hot sidewalk afterwards, waiting, waiting for a bus to come by that wasn’t full.

      Like

  2. Jackie says:

    Hahaha – ugh I can’t stand New York. It’s just too much. Too many people with not enough space. Very frustrating. I love the side-by-side comparison.

    Do you seriously have a Micky Mouse fanny pack? I need to know.

    Like

  3. Ohmygod, the comparison was hilarious. We see so many tourists here in DC. And some of them do look like the foam head guy. On the other hand, no one looks like Carrie Bradshaw.

    Like

  4. bigsheepcommunications says:

    Gee, Peg, I can’t imagine why you were singled out. You don’t look at all conspicuous. As for your kids, they’re your kids so it’s their duty to be embarrassed by you and they’d feel that way even if you looked just like Carrie Bradshaw (or maybe ESPECIALLY if you looked like her).

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You don’t think being hot and stylin’ would give me an in with my kids? You’re probably right. They’d choose to embrace dweeb-dom in rebellion.

      Like

  5. Natalie says:

    So funny! Living in Chicago, we see you types all the time!

    Like

  6. I actually live in Los Angeles, but that doesn’t stop the folks around Hollywood & Highland from shoving their wares at me! I’d love to have some kind of shock system set up that delivers a light jolt whenever they’re moving in for the “kill.” Continuing the approach would result in increasingly large jolts.

    What’s that? Lawsuit, you say? Well, maybe with totally literal interpretations of law . . .

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Hey, the Personal Space Maintenance Tool. You could have a force-field around you to deter those idiots from getting right up in your FACE. Want to go halfsies on this – I think it could be big!

      Like

  7. I only heart NY for two or three days at a time, when it’s not hot enough to reaaaallly be able to smell the urine. Fortunately I can avoid the touristy look… but last time I was there, I may or may not have bought a real, but stolen, Louis Vuitton messenger bag on Canal Street. For a friend of a friend. “Uh, it’s possible these aren’t knockoffs,” my friend grumbled lowly to me as we were pulled around a corner to a van and two guys got on their cell phones.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Ha ha! Enjoy your ill-gotten gains. I’m sure my bag was real, because the nice saleslady huddled in the doorway of the Chinese meat-slicer repair shop told me so.

      Like

  8. I’m laughing while I’m typing. That picture and comparison of Carrie and photo-shopped tourist You is just too hilarious. And you put into perfect humor the reason why I dislike going to “The CIty.” (People in New Your State and surrounding countries all NYC “The CIty” as if it was the only city that exists. I resent the implication for the multi-millions of people who live in perfectly legitamate, tourist-taunting other cities.) Thanks for making my day!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      You’re right – there are plenty of snobby, tourist-taunting cities, all over this great land of ours. From New York to LA, from Nome to Miami. From sea to shining sea!

      Like

  9. winsomebella says:

    The souvenir tote is to die for.

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      How nice to meet a woman with such fine taste. Most people notice my Mickey Mouse fanny-pack first, but that tote is fab. I got it in New York City, by the way.

      Like

  10. There is a street in Buenos Aires, Argentina that is like that…leather seems to be the core of their economic system, and I was accosted so many times on one street by in-your-face leather dealers that I couldn’t shop at all because I needed to escape!

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      Isn’t Argentina the beef capital of the world? Don’t they sell the purses right out front of the shop where they make the hamburgers? (Yeah, I’ll have a Big Mac with the works and a Kate Spade on the side)

      Did you end up buying something?

      Like

  11. Big Al says:

    This is a side-splitting funny post! It’s also the best side-by-side comparison since Patrick Swayze and Chris Farley did the Chippendales audition skit on SNL. That puts you in some rarefied air.

    Like

  12. MKC says:

    Beware what you buy in NYC. The shirt I bought in Chinatown saying, I Love New York, came apart the first time I washed it. I lost the Love part! Great visual. MKC

    Like

  13. anne says:

    I don’t get it. You look exactly like Carrie. I cannot imagine why anyone would confuse you for a tourist.

    LOL love this post! BTW, I have a 13 year old daughter, whom I remind regularly that embarrassing her is truly in my parental guidebook, and so there is nothing I can do but comply!

    Like

  14. We get a lot of cruise ship passengers here in Saint John, New Brunswick…one day, a friend of mine observed that you could always spot them by their bright white running shoes (always brand new!)…she was right! It got to be funny after a while…

    From page 97 of the parenting handbook: “Thou shalt take every opportunity to embarrass your children in public, especially once they have reached the magic age of thirteen!”

    Fun post!

    Wendy

    Like

    • pegoleg says:

      It’s the age-old tourist dilemma. Wear white tennies and fit the stereotype, or wear strappy sandals and have to stop sightseeing after only 2 blocks.

      Like

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