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Marvin on Appreciating the Tourists

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

“A lot of people talk about the tourists in D.C. like they are a nuisance because they can clog up the city or dumb because they ask a lot of questions. I don’t see it that way. I just see them as people who are interested in our city and want to learn more about where we are from. I mean, if I were in New York or Las Vegas, I would ask a lot of questions. When you are not familiar with something, you are not dumb, you just don’t know what the locals know.

“I was born in this city and my parents started taking me and my brother down to visit the sites, monuments, museums, buildings, and parades, as soon as I could walk. My father is a native of North Carolina and my Mom is from Trinidad. They wanted to show us how multicultural this city could be and let us know that our mixed household was a representation of how America was built. They were very proud of this city and how it tells its history through its museums and other buildings. Until I was 18, we spent a lot of time seeing Washington like tourists. My favorite was always the Air and Space Museum and the National History Museum. If it had a connection to science or airplanes, I was all over it.

People knock the tourists, but I don’t see things like that. I mean, I have a job because of them, and I like that people are interested in where I live.

“After I finished Community College in Prince George’s County, I took jobs working for Enterprise Rent a Car and then started my own moving company. One of my moving customers thought that I was very professional and a good people person and offered me a job working for the City Sightseeing Double Decker Tours. They hired me part-time and liked what they saw and made me a supervisor. It is a great job because it takes me back to when I was a kid and spent my time as a tourist in this city. Now, I spend my days interacting with tourists and making sure that things are running smoothly with the buses.

“If you figure that I work a nine hour shift and four to five buses leave during that time, each with the capacity for 100 people, that means that I interact with almost 500 tourists a day. Plus, I meet all of the people who have questions about the bus and just walk by with questions about the city. People usually ask the same questions, things like, how much is the bus; is there a bathroom on the bus; where does the bus stop; where are the popular places to stop; and other things like that. I don’t take no mind to all of the questions. I let my employees know that they need to do the same. Tourists are not familiar with the area and we should be patient with them. Even if this is their second or third trip here, they are not asking to be spiteful, they just may need some help.

“This job has really taught me a lot about myself and the city. I learned that I am good people person and I like what I do. I also learned all of the specifics about the places that I would see all of the time as a kid. Now, I know the history behind places like Union Station and the monuments. That means, that I can share that with my family and friends and help them to better understand this city.

“The last thing that I want to say is that I always knew that Washington was a tourist center. Working in this job lets me see the actual volume of people coming through here. The numbers are incredible. Just think about this, our tour company has over twenty buses that go around the city. At Union Station alone, there are three or four other companies, all with a similar number of buses. That means that you will have hundreds of tour buses travelling around the city every day showing people the city. That does not even include all of the tour buses coming in from out of town. Like I said, people knock the tourists, but I don’t see things like that. I mean, I have a job because of them, and I like that people are interested in where I live. It makes me feel good about living here.”

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  1. I think that all of the tourism in this town is one of reasons that it can feel like a soulless place. It truly is a transitional place from those who come for a weekend to those who stay for a few years and then bail.

    Comment by Carmel — August 17, 2010 @ 10:03 am

  2. i dont think dc is just a transitional place. they are plenty of people that grow up here and stay or move here and stay. it depends on the social circle u run in. if all your friends work for non-profits or the world bank, then yes it is a transitional place.

    Comment by jonny — August 18, 2010 @ 1:03 pm

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