San Francisco: Ups and Downs in Tourist Town

January 10, 2018|Posted in: Uncategorized

Sometimes, the biggest problem with living in San Francisco is the people who DON’T live in San Francisco.

I’m sure that’s true with most places that considered ideal vacation destinations; if all the tourists in Orlando at any given time decided to work together, they could stage a coup and overthrow the local government just from sheer numbers. And don’t get me started on Branson, Missouri … you could populate a small country with the amount of people there at the same time we were, but only like 12 of them were actual residents.

It’s not that bad in here, but it’s bad enough. I secretly believe that small earthquakes like the one a couple weeks ago are actually triggered by local seismologists from time to time, just to shake fear into a few of the non-residents so they’ll run screaming home to Des Moines or wherever.

Don’t get me wrong: I love San Francisco. I fit in. And being a fairly nice guy, I actually kinda like the idea of sharing what I love with others.

In theory, anyway.

In reality, having some 25 million tourists a year in your back yard can get a bit annoying. That’s 20-some-odd times our actual population; imagine 25 to 30 strangers per family member traipsing through your house every year, getting in the way, making a mess, and acting like you should adjust your life to fit their needs. I’m not a grumpy guy by nature, but it gets old.

Having said that, I’ll also readily admit that part of the problem is the mindset of people who live in tourist towns: to us, it’s not a tourist town, it’s home. I read a comment on this blog post the other day where a woman was realizing that because she travelled so much in her job, she didn’t really take vacations: to her, vacations weren’t really vacations, they were just more travel.

Same basic principle: my mindset is on my choices, my city, my way of life. I didn’t move to San Francisco to be entertained, I made a commitment. I actually contribute to this community, and work to support it.

Tourists don’t do that, as a rule.

And worse, too many of the locals play specifically to that crowd. Self-focused, shortsighted businesses trying to cash in, doing whatever they want or can in order to grab all those tourist dollars. Damn the community, full speed ahead … until it’s used up, at least. Then we’ll move on to the next area or venture.

But as judgmental as I know I sound, it’s really hard to blame them. We’re talking about people, after all–people who have families to feed and lives to lead. It’s all well and good to talk about preserving the city’s special charm and cultural uniqueness, but if it comes down to a choice, people are going to pick food over clean streets, every time.

And honestly, it’s pretty selfish to complain about too many people in my little corner when the fact is, there are way too many people on this planet, period. I’m smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough to fix that problem, but simple math shows that the problem does exist.

But at the end of the day, it all gets back to the same problems: people not caring. Lack of respect for others, for life. Whether we’re talking about carelessly trashing a town you don’t live in … or decimating a rainforest to put up another Chuck E. Cheese … it comes down to common courtesy, and taking responsibility for our actions.

It’s not something we’re particularly good at, but for the sake of everyone, we really need to try.