When the first cherry blossom blooms, they swarm to DC like frenzied locusts.
They’re easy to spot. Clunky cameras draped loosely their necks. Neon fanny packs affixed tightly to their hips. Splotches of sunscreen smeared haphazardly across their faces.
Tourists descend on the nation’s capital year-round, but from April to August, it turns into an incursion.
This isn’t to say Washingtonians don’t appreciate the visiting hordes. Last year alone, 17.4 million tourists injected $6.5 billion into the local economy.
It is also important for all of us to remember that, at one point or another, we’ve all been tourists. I’ve cluelessly meandered the streets of countless cities, trying to blend in with the local population. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
But ask any DC natives how they feel about the tourists who overrun the city each summer, and they’ll respond with a pained grimace. Here are 10 reasons why Washingtonians loathe summertime tourists:
1. Escalator Etiquette
STAND TO THE RIGHT. If you want to find the quickest way to make an enemy of DC’s locals, plant yourself in the middle of an escalator with both hands gripping either side of the handrail.
Washington is a city constantly on the move. Unlike New York’s subway, trains in DC appear about as frequently as a solar eclipse. Missing your train could mean missing your next promotion, as you’ll inevitably be at least 20 minutes late to work.
So when on the Metro, do Washington’s working class a favor and just move to the right side of the escalator. The left side is reserved for sprinters.
2. There’s An Awesome Invention Called Deodorant, You Should Look Into
One of the more common missteps that DC tourists make when visiting the city in the summer is failing to account for the oppressive heat and humidity.
Washington was built on a swamp. Spend two minutes outside in August and it will look like you just took a dip in the Potomac River.
Sweating is unavoidable, but body odor isn’t. Challenge yourself to walk into the Museum of Natural History on Labor Day weekend and spend more than five minutes in the front lobby amid the throng of under-deodorized travelers.
So do us a favor and pack an extra bar of Right Guard in your suitcase before you leave home.
3. Stopping The Car On The 14th Street Bridge To Take Pictures
DC is a commuter city. It’s also a terrible city to commute in.
A 2013 study found that Washington ranks first in the nation for traffic congestion based on time and fuel commuters lose in traffic delays. Annually, Washingtonians spend more than 67 hours on average stuck in traffic.
With this in mind, the last thing anyone needs is someone parking his car on the shoulder of 395 or the 14th Street Bridge for a photo op in the middle of rush hour. If you must drive in our city, please do as Washingtonians do – travel at least 20 mph faster than any posted speed limit, and stop for nothing.
4. We’re Not Zoo Animals
Walking in Farragut Park can leave you feeling like a gorilla in a caged exhibit.
Tourists eagerly peer over the sides of gaudy, open-top double-decker buses as they feverishly snap photos of the native species prancing around in their business attire.
It’s important to remember that not everyone in DC is a congressman or White House staffer. These people are not strutting around for your amusement. Most are simply just trying to get some lunch, and the last thing they want is for you to take a photo of them that will become the centerpiece of your travel photo album.
5. No, We Don’t All Know Obama
So please stop asking.
6. It’s Called Rush Hour For A Reason, So Pick Up The Pace
Like I said before, Washingtonians are a people in a hurry. Be it on the sidewalk, in the Metro or on the roads, visitors need to either join the fray and hustle or move well out of the way.
7. Do Us A Favor And Don’t Leave Your Hotel Before 9:30 AM
Scratch that. You won’t be able to keep up, so just avoid being outside between the hours of 7:30-9:30 am and 5:00-7:00 pm.
8. Riding The Metro Is A Time For Quiet Reflection
In all the hustle and bustle of professional life in Washington, there are few moments afforded for quiet introspection.
For most DC natives, the train ride to and from work is the one opportunity they have each day to throw in a pair of headphones and shut off their brains.
But when they’re drawn out of their meditative moment by the shrill scream of your undisciplined toddler, don’t be surprised if they greet you with a piercing death stare or something worse.
9. Sometimes, Kids Need A Leash
Speaking of undisciplined children, please remind your kids that a stranger’s tie is not meant to be a climbing rope. Be sure to reinforce the whole “keep your hands to yourself” rule before heading eastward in the family minivan.
If I had a nickel for every time a 5-year-old slapped me on the back and said, “Tag, you’re it”… well, I’d have at least 25 cents.
10. No, The National Mall Is Not A Shopping Destination
It’s just a really, really big grass lawn. No, you cannot go find an Abercrombie or Bloomingdales at the National Mall, so please stop asking us to help you find them on the map.
If you must satiate your inner consumer at the Mall, there are plenty of “I Love DC” t-shirts and expired hotdog venders eager to take your money.