Who’s that doing 45 in a 25 mile per hour zone, snaking through traffic in a blizzard as if the pavement were dry, sticking as close to your rear bumper as possible? Why, it’s one of those gosh darn tourists who instead of slowing down on vacation have brought their urban zest for speed and reckless abandon behind the wheel from an urban area with snow-free streets to our fair city.
And before a vocal few in the local tourism business go completely bonkers and start posting rants that I’m anti tourist, let me say that I’m writing this in defense of those zany, wacky driving tourists. Their minds are simply on vacation and many things they normally wouldn’t do at home, like driving like a maniac, go out the window when they go on vacation.
Let me amplify. Years ago I attended a tourism conference during which there was a presentation by a senior executive of a major hotel chain. His subject was expecting the unexpected when you are in the hospitality industry.
“One thing I’ve come to know over the years,” the exec noted, “is that when people go on vacation, they turn their minds off.”
He went on to describe episodes of very bright people did stupid things. One of his prime examples was of Fortune 500 CEO famous for his brilliance and fast reactions to business crisis locking his keys and his infant son in his car on a 100-degree weather on the first day of his vacation.
There were more examples and all augmented his thesis that people tended to do things they never did at home during their normal lives when they went on vacation.
I grew up in a Colorado tourist town and my teenage summer jobs were at a famous resort hotel. There, I experienced a lot of what the Hilton exec cited. “I locked myself out of car/room/lost my wallet/can’t find my child,” were commonplace complaints.
And a member of the constabulary told me they got a lot of “I didn’t realize I was going that fast” or, “I can’t believe I did that?” statements when they pulled drivers over.
And so early on I developed pity on tourists doing, well “stupid tourists tricks” like driving like a maniac in a snowstorm or treating Bend’s neighborhood streets like high-speed freeways.
When I become a tourist, as I do for a few weeks every year, I go to a resort area where I don’t have to drive and can do everything on my bicycle. In the back of my vacant on-vacation mind, I think that if I cycle I’ll be less of a hazard to locals. Probably not.