Thursday, August 25, 2005

Exploration

Traveling Circus


I hate tourists. I hate em with a fiery passion that rivals a school's hatred for political incorrectness. Especially the American ones: they remind me that the rest of the country is not nearly as decent as New York, and that people aren't nearly as interesting as they should be.

Please note that I perceive a fundamental difference in tourists and travelers. Travelers explore a new location, take in the local culture, explore the side-alleys, and return with a heightened sense of the world. Tourists go to the big tourist traps, take a bunch of photos, make no effort to actually enjoy the City, but rather affirm their preconceived notion of what they want the City to be, and go back home. They learn nothing. They gain nothing. They might have an enjoyable moment with the family, but they will not, in the long run, gain anything from their trip. And it's a damn shame.

You can always tell an American tourist in the City. They hover around the major landmarks, with their entire family wearing t-shirts, shorts, and sandals, the mom with a Polaroid camera around her neck, the kid(s) glued to some portable electronic device, the father looking at a map. Most of the time they're obese. A traveling family is another matter. They pursue their interests individually, and wander towards their destination instead of using a map. They interact with the locals, even if only to ask for directions. The kids are actually interested in their surroundings. The mom might have a camera, but it's discreetly hidden in her purse. No Fanny packs. Those people earn my respect. They will gain far more than tourists ever will.

The Subway of the Beast


Personal story, one I think is of enough note to post. I'm taking the subway back home from work. For no real reason, I'm wearing all black - black shoes, black pants, black socks, black shirt, sporting a goatee and slicked-back hair. Two stops into the ride, a guy gets on. Jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt with "Got Jesus?" on it. He then proceeds to do something completely unique: he preaches. He wants us to atone for our sins and love Jesus. He doesn't want money, he doesn't want food, he just preaches. For 7 stops. I, meanwhile, tune him out, and continue to read the Art of War. Finally, that computer-generated voice announces that we have reached my destination. I begin to get up, trip, and smash head first into the guy just as he says: "Show me a man that truly does not love Jesus, and I will show you Satan!". He looks up and stares at me. I give the most evil grin I can possibly imagine. "SATAN! THE DEVIL! STAY BACK! THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!" and he runs like a bat out of hell. I get up, do an auto-check for wallet, and walk out of the subway, with a spring in my step that only a terrified Christ-bitten man could give.

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