Muni Stories: Hands Off My Tourist

30 Stockton yesterday, heading to Union Square. I noticed this weird phenomenon of possessive townie “pissing on” their tourist and thus marking them as Theirs.

It started with a dark and stormy night…

So I get asked for directions more than all of my friends combined. I just have that face that says, Information Booth. Standing at the cable car stop at Lombard and Columbus, British ladies started asking me my opinion on various advice they’d received over the day about how to get to Polk and Sutter. It was a pretty tough question, and I was interested, looked at their map, etc, and gave them options. Later on, I ended up with them on the 30-Stockton since I’d missed the Cable Car. While on the bus, this Italian guy kept asking in a loud voice, “Rest-AU-Rants, Italian, I want to go,” and this old guy kept saying, “I’ll take you there. Stick with me. I’ll show you a great restaurant.” All the while we are heading out of North Beach and into Chinatown. A woman leaving the bus stopped and told him to get off at this stop if he wants Italian. “This is Little Italy.” She gets off, and Italian guy is like “I don’t know what she says. I want restaurant. Italian.” Old guy again repeats that he’s the man, as we’re now in Chinatown. I tell the Italian guy. “That was Little Italy.” (Just keeping consistent- I’ve actually never called it that.) Old guy looks at me. Gets this mad look on his face. I realize, oh, that’s HIs Tourist. I have my British ladies, he’s got this Italian guy. OK OK. Hands-off. Message received.

9 Comments so far

  1. Lauren (unregistered) on November 10th, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

    great story! I have inherited the Information Booth look from my mom, and so I am ruling out North Beach as a possible neighborhood for when I move.

  2. anna (unregistered) on November 10th, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

    I’ve surrendedered to it. No need to fight it. I was mad for a while when it made me late to places, but now I just have a 10-minute “tourist interruption” buffer in my plans. The other day this lady asks me, “Where can I get a good breakfast, like eggs and bacon?” I’m game, and we’re downtown, and far from Union Square, so I’m like, “Uh, there’s nothing really here like that, except maybe Posh Bagel on Battery.” and she goes, “What do they serve there?” Beat. Deadpan. “Bagels.”

  3. Adam (unregistered) on November 10th, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    I actually like helping tourists! I think it’s fun to show people my favorite bits of the City . . . which is why I write for this blog, I guess. :-)

  4. Bradley Allen (unregistered) on November 10th, 2006 @ 10:10 pm

    Great story and comments. I enjoy being helpful to ‘visitors’ (I’ve decided not to call them tourists anymore). And yeah, I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m here too.

  5. Colin (unregistered) on November 11th, 2006 @ 1:57 am

    Sunglass + headphones = never having to give directions. Of course, if you like giving directions, that’s cool too. I think it just makes me anxious because I don’t know my way around all that well (moved here last Jan.) so I turn into a stammering idiot when asked for help.

  6. Otto Matik (unregistered) on November 11th, 2006 @ 2:27 am

    Gee, do you think you “get for directions more
    than all of my friends combined” is better
    explained by having “face that says, Information
    Booth” or “Standing at the cable car stop at
    Lombard and Columbus”, i.e. it’s not who you are
    but where you are [and what you do, like take the
    cable car].

    I get asked “What part of Potrero Hill do you live
    in?” more than all of my friends combined!

  7. anna (unregistered) on November 11th, 2006 @ 1:15 pm

    Otto- I get asked for directions in the Mission, on Market St, in other cities… true that Lombard & Columbus is the definite nexus of tourists.

  8. Nancy (unregistered) on November 11th, 2006 @ 7:10 pm

    I have “information” printed on my forehead, too. No matter where I am. The worst is when people ask, and I’m so out of my element that I can’t give them anything. When you tell them that you don’t konw, they kinda pause like “yeah, sure. you just don’t like tourists.”

    I mean, visitors.

  9. charles sears II (unregistered) on November 14th, 2006 @ 11:15 am

    I will see tourists with their maps out standing on the corner and I will just ask if they need help.That way,if they are conducting a survey about “friendly” cities and tourists,I will have done my part,and SF will hopefully not get dinged.I really do try to help them and steer them to my favorite restaurants,etc..tell them about the plays to etc,etc.I travel 2 times a year,so I have been a tourist asking for directions in London and Rome,Moscow..and have been surprised and met great people in those cities to share a meal,a laugh with.I have played tourist to my family members who have come to visit me and gotten a birds eye view of our city also.

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