A Licence to Censure

1956 licence plate in woods

A_Span is not a traveller. The notions of places far-flung and exotic cause an almost immediate sense of a homesickness. Granted, sometimes going to the nearby mall causes homesickness, or at least a sense of disorientation and bewilderment so intense that there is a kind of travel sickness involved. It occurs to me just now that perhaps it is not homesickness but simply a combination of sensory overload and anxiety, which is experienced much more often away from home than at home.

Even though ideas of travel are unsettling, it isn't just fear of the unknown. The comforts of home mean being reasonably sure that the taste, texture and quantity of certain foods will not cause a lunch to be lost, that the sights, sounds and smells of environs and landscapes won't instantiate a headache or migraine or a deep wish to be anywhere but there. The excitement and enthusiasm about going somewhere new have to more than offset the absolute dread of airports. If they've figured out individual screens for airplanes, why the frick do they put televisions everywhere in airports? Why save all the oxygen masks for the fairly unlikely situations of drops in cabin pressure? Provide a gas mask or two instead for those more likely to deprive themselves of oxygen as they travel through duty free sections on the way to the gate. Another belated occurrence: airports are malls.

A_Span is most certainly a tourist. That crane-necked ambling gawker who gets in the way of some cynical urbanite who lives there and has a very important place to get to, who does not want to be bothered by the likes of me taking up sidewalk space. No, I would not want to live there but it's kind of fun to go to a metropolis every now and again.

The economy here in the back of beyond counts on 3 months of peak tourism to make it through the remaining 9. Is it annoying when those people show up in their home away from homes? (It would not be surprising to one day see not only a hybrid car in tow, but also the garage to keep it in). Sure, but all the visiting vehicles loaded with bikes and kayaks and filled with people who have been looking forward to vacations and adventures, vistas and trails, help make it possible to maintain and improve the damn roads. There's a 30-mile stretch I often drive that used to be mostly two-way traffic filled with blind-curves and sand-gravel shoulders lying in wait to capture any tire veering ever so slightly near the road's edge. Now it's kind of sweet driving with half a dozen passing-lane sections, bike-lane worthy shoulders and doesn't get pockmarked and rubbly within a year of any hot-topping. In the right season, there's often not another car for a mile or two. Best bonus: it's not a breath-taking-heart-stopping-please- don't-make-me drive in the winter.

Should everybody bloody well keep to the right in those passing lanes if they are driving below or at the nominal speed limit (i.e., lower than the posted limit plus 5, probably 8, maybe 10 depending on conditions)? Should people maybe for the love of god not exclaim about the wondrous natural beauty of the place into their fucking phones? Yeah, they should. But maybe that woman in front of me at the grocery store should re-think her diatribe about how she simply could not wait for the invaders to leave so they were not clogging up her trails and positively ruining her summer? Actually, she should get out of my way and shut the fuck right up.

Did the cashier perhaps get more hours exactly because too many people are apparently mistaken about their rights to visit national parks, to get to see night skies, to look at tidal pools with their kids? Did she have to smile and go along with the truly disturbing entitlement of someone who probably never experienced concern, much less worry, about paying for groceries? Maybe she can't wait for all the tourists to leave either. I can only hope that her customer never again has cause to leave her island, feel pretty damn confident she wasn't born anywhere near it, and highly doubt she ever contemplates her responsibility to pay her full share of the local, state and federal taxes that support it.

Comments are closed.