Tourists and Visitors

Dear Paris, We, who come to visit you every so often, would like to apologize for getting in your way. We do understand, especially since we are a destination city as you are. Our longings, dreams and ideals may not meet your standards; you may laugh at us or get upset when you find we are crowding your space or sitting in your favorite spot in a park or restaurant, but do forgive us, svp. Many of us don’t know it is considered impolite to be eating as we walk down the Paris streets. We just don’t stop to think and we do change our pace when on vacation in the City of Light. There is just so much to do and see… and you live there, so please have pity on us, just a little? We, in San Francisco do know when you are in town. We hear your accents mainly in July and August, and see you looking up and taking photos of all the tall buildings. Of course I may get irritated when I bump into you, but I did manage to look up for perhaps the first time in years, to see what tall buildings were so interesting. Perhaps the Transamerica building reminds you of Le Tour Eiffel? My, but I had forgotten it was there until you got in my way as I were rushing down the street. At the Ferry Plaza Market last week, I hurried in to buy some fresh bread, and a group of six of you got in line in front of me to buy just a couple of sandwiches! I am sorry if you could read the frown on my face. Eventually one of you spotted my frown and got most of your group to stand aside. Thank you! I also saw you pick up a few other items from the fromagerie next door, and then take them outside to sit in the sun, eat and watch the ferries. Interesting…I might have to do that one day, when I can slow down. Then there was the Crocker Galleria Farmer’s Market and there you were again. I had hurried there on my lunch hour because they have some of the best organic produce and prices. Don’t think I didn’t notice you, and your family, including the children. I could barely get to the vendor to pay because your son was in my way. You were taking care to get just the right pieces. I even noticed how politely your son moved aside even if I could not think fast enough to say “pardon moi” or “merci” .You see, I had eaten at my office so that I would have my lunch hour to run up to that same market where you had stopped. Oh, la, la….you have found one of our best little secret places. How do you tourists find our hidden gems? Then there was the young woman who asked to take my photo, because I was wearing what she considered The Colors of Summer in San Francisco. What was she talking about? Oh, yes, she was making a film. Well, I guess it did not take that much of my lunch hour time to let her take a few pictures and she did thank me profusely. The two Mademoiselles who passed by one of our local street performers were interesting too. This older gentleman was singing to them, and bowed as they walked up to where he was standing. They asked, “parle vous francaise?” and when he just kept singing, I heard them switch to anglais and all of them were laughing together as I continued up the street. I must admit, that was a nice interaction. I would guess we could share our cable cars with you, even though you seem to hop on when it is commute time! This is the only transportation for many of us to get to and from work, you know. However, I haven’t noticed you being obnoxious, and you do seem to enjoy seeing all the sights as you ride up or down our famous hills. Well, in a few weeks I will be in the City of Light and it will be my turn to be the one getting in the way. I will be ”oohing” and “aahing” and trying to get up to the vendors along with you. Now that you have spent some time in my city, I will try to remember how it feels to be on the other side of the “tourist” label, and not get in your way on purpose. Please remember that when you run into me, as you speed to work or hear me stumbling with mon francais and others are trying to help make sure I am understood….that I am having a ball, and…please… don’t forget that!
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