28 July 2006

Come Back When You Can't Stay So Long

Not only has the quality of life in New York gone steadily down in recent years; so has the quality of tourists.

Used to be, folks you knew would give you weeks, nay months, advance notice of a visit, and invite you to spend as much time with them as possible. These days, I find visiting friends and relatives try to sandwich you into a brief slot like you're a job applicant or something. I had a friend from far off come to the city a few weeks back. Hadn't seen her in a year. She gave me about 48 hours notice or her arrival and then offered to meet me between 2 PM and 4 PM on a Wednesday. How convenient. Now, she knows I'm a working a stiff, but this is the option I was given. I said, impossible on such short notice; are their other times? No, was the answer. So, we didn't meet. Thousands of miles, and we didn't meet.

Another recent visitor expressed a desire to meet me and my wife, but at 8 PM or so in Manhattan. This pal knows good and well that we live in Brooklyn and have a young son. If that brain of his was working, he should have understood that a night in Manhattan was a no-go. Kids don't have bedtimes of midnight, and they don't much enjoy nightspots. But, again, this was the only option offered. And God forbid that anyone should have to go...all...the....way...to.....(pant)....Brooklyn! (There is no match for insensitivity in this world than the carefree childless when confronted with the demands and needs of the parents with children. Unless, of course, it's the carefree childless on holiday.)

What's going on here? Now, before you think me oversensitive, keep in mind that these are people on vacation. They are free and easy, with no pressing engagements. I, meanwhile, am still a functional drone in my native city, with working hours and other sundry responsibilities. Yet, THEY are the ones with no flexibility. It's like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Perhaps there is no such thing as a good tourist. Even if you know 'em.

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