At the mercy of the beasts. — The Social Experience
I work in a very small store located in one of the major (tourist) shopping districts in downtown Portland. As a result of this location, and perhaps also as a result of the store being small and cozy and generally not bustling with activity, I receive a million stupid questions a day from people off of the street, like I'm a fucking tour guide. The majority of the people who come in to ask me these questions are not customers of this store. Instead they are simply a passerby who thought it wise and not rude at all to walk into my store to ask me where this other store is, where that restaurant is located, or that park, don't I know the one? I am not familiar with the Pearl District at all. In fact, other than it being a peaceful and clean place to work, I really don't like the neighborhood all that much. Too many collared shirts and tennis bracelets, not enough tattoos and black clothing. So, in turn I don't spend my spare time in this neighborhood. I don't know where all the restaurants are located, I have no idea where the art galleries are, and I've never even heard of that store you're asking me about. When I politely tell the rude-fucking-tourist that I'm not very familiar with the Pearl District and I'm sorry but I'm unable to direct them, some of them act ... snooty! As though I'm not doing my job properly because I can't suggest a good place to grab lunch. Other times they barely mutter a thank you before they're turning on their heels and heading out of the store. Never do they browse or buy anything, never do they apologize for the imposition. Then there are those who come in and ask for meter change. Seriously? Do I have the word Teller on my shirt (hi Nat!)? I go to the bank for change very rarely so no, you cannot have four quarters, maybe you should try, um, I don't know, a fucking bank? And, do I know how to operate the parking meter? Can I show them? Do I know of a hotel they can stay at? Can I tell them what time the grocery store on the corner closes? What's the weather supposed to be like tomorrow? And excuse me but can you please tell me the square root of pi?
Now granted, some of these people are customers, and I happily use my Internet power to find answers and give directions to those people, I even print shit out for them occasionally. And while I don't mind it as much as I mind the people who walk in for the sole purpose of asking me something, it's still getting pretty damn annoying. When I travel I go prepared with lists and maps and printouts and telephone numbers and directions and hours of operations and weather forecasts and it all gets sorted and stapled together and put into a binder and placed into a bag alongside of at least two small tour guide books. Do I expect others to be as awesome as myself? Clearly that's hardly possible, even I find it difficult to maintain my awesomeness on such a level at all times, but I manage, and no I don't expect others to, I guess. But my god people, at least use good sense enough to ask your dumb questions in a place that has a Customer Information booth, like Powell's! Which is literally around the block! And is probably why you're in this dumb neighborhood anyways!
So, as a message to my readers, be considerate, be mindful, don't be a rude pain in the ass to all of those around you. Go to the bank for change, read the instructions on the meter to figure out how to use it, do your research before you travel and if you need information while you're out, use your cell phone and call Information. Do not ask people dumb questions that doesn't pertain to their place of business unless you're buying something from them. Even then, know that you're probably the millionth person to ask such a question and know that you're probably being just a little bit annoying. Don't be fooled by their sweet-as-sugar replies, the welcoming smiles, the apologetic frowns, the departing well wishes and waves. Because I do all of those things, and here I am, writing a post filled with frustration and curse words. Now, if you'll excue me, I have a customer. Time to smile!
Freakin' customer service jobs!!!! There is a special place in hell for people who don't realize their rudeness and general social blunders when it comes to people in the service industry. Little do they know how their snooty replies have me plotting their death.
So, yes, I feel your pain. I also have been the stupid ass tourist askin' the questions, so I feel their pain too.
But not as much.
And I am prone not to care.
I've stood outside Macy's on 34th St and have more than 3 separate groups of tourists within an hour time span come up to me and ask me which direction the Empire State Building is. I pointed up at the massive building in clear view obstructing half the sky, they turned, looked, and walked away in that direction. No thank you's, no oopsies, no damn i'm oblivious, no nuthin.
The world keeps spinning. The universe does not care. I've learned not to either.
PS - I also had a guy pull up next to me on 125th st and 2nd ave, and ask me "How do I get to Manhattan?" I replied, "You're on it." He said, "No, the part with white people." I drove away. Apparently, if your in a black neighborhood, it doesn't actually exist. It's a void.
So don't fret - it's not just tourists on the west coast - it's the human race. Pray for tidal waves.
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