Those Damn Tourists.

The life and times of a tourist destination.

Robert Cormack
ILLUMINATION
5 min readJun 5, 2024

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“I quit flying years ago. I don’t want to die with tourists.” Billy Bob Thornton

We live in a former fishing village, what is now referred to as a “tourist destination.” I don’t know why the town chose tourists over fish. I think it had something to do with smell.

Tourists smell better, supposedly, which is why the town tore down many of its fishing shacks, putting up condos instead. Not that tourists live in these condos, or smell any better because of them.

They just prefer condos to fishing shacks.

There are no public washrooms in the condo lobbies. This confuses tourists to no end.

They’ve even been known to wander into condo lobbies looking for washrooms. There are no public washrooms in the condo lobbies. This confuses tourists to no end.

Fortunately, there are plenty of things to keep tourists occupied in our town, including a beach, foot-long hot dogs, miniature golf and a store that sells inflatable whales.

People ask why we don’t have real whales. We’re a freshwater port. Maybe we should post “Whale Tours” at the pier and then sail them over to watch other tourists floating around on inflatable whales.

Another attraction is our Marine Museum. This is where we tell tourists we used to be a fishing village. At the entrance is an old diving suit with helmet and attached hoses.

“How can you fish in that?” one child asked. They’re much happier looking at the old sepia pictures of fishermen from the early 1900s. Most of these fishermen seemed to smoke a lot.

“Can I be a fisherman, Mom?” another boy asked.

“Not if you want lung cancer,” his mother replied.

Litter is a growing problem in our town, filling our roadside ditches with beer cans, coffee cups and assorted water bottles.

I hope I’m not painting a bad picture at this point — since this is the good picture. The bad one consists of town locals calling tourists “damn tourists.” This pejorative stems from something concerning all tourist towns, and that’s the subject of litter.

Litter is a growing problem in our town. Every day we pass roadside ditches filled with a circus of beer cans, coffee cups and assorted water bottles.

And each time the subject comes up on social media, the same conclusion is reached: “It’s those damn tourists!”

Funnily enough, though, the highest incidence of littering occurs off season. Since it isn’t tourists — or cidiots (retirees like my wife and I who don’t litter because, frankly it’s stupid) — that leaves the people calling us cidiots and tourists “those damn tourists.”

Crazy irony, but small towns live for irony. They also don’t call it irony because they don’t think it’s ironic at all. It’s more like a statement of fact that’s only factual if those calling it fact feel somehow put upon.

When someone refers to a report showing a higher than usual litter count on routes used by transport trucks and service vehicles, one person wrote, “I travel those roads all the time. Why are you picking on us instead of those damn tourists?”

It’s a good thing tourists don’t read these social forums. Considering the capital they infuse into the local economy, they could think we’re ungrateful. Here’s the irony: The town devotes a lot of time to tourism.

“It’s disgusting,” someone wrote. “We certainly don’t need those people in our town — even if they do buy hotdogs.”

Yet it’s not uncommon to complain about their habits, including the burial of used diapers in the sand. “It’s disgusting,” someone wrote. “We certainly don’t need those people in our town — even if they do buy hotdogs.”

It’s a common belief that tourists are an inexhaustible resource. If someone writes on the social forum, “We won’t have tourism if we don’t clean up our act,” they’ll get a response like “Maybe they should clean up their act.”

Sometimes the locals get particularly militant if they feel someone’s messing with tradition, something small towns hold onto more than most. When some disgruntled individuals complained about the Canada Day fireworks scaring their dogs, the response was, “We’ve had fireworks since I don’t know when. Get your dog some earplugs. Or put her out in the woods.”

“That’s just plain mean,” one woman wrote back, claiming her chihuahua still shakes from last year’s panorama.

“Cidiot,” someone replied.

“Is it possible we’re trying to be too clean?” I asked.

The locals here obviously aren’t crazy about the influx of cidiots to the town. “We didn’t have water problems before they came on the scene,” a man wrote. “They’ve been driving up real estate prices, too.”

I mentioned this to my wife earlier. I’ve heard the “driving up real estate prices” before, but how have we created water problems? Do the locals think we shower too much? I remember being down in Florida and the locals complaining about “snowbirds” taking showers all the time. Is that what the townsfolk think about us?

“Are we’re trying to be too clean?” I asked my wife.

“I’m sure our neighbours bathe as much as we do,” she replied.

She was looking out the window, checking people on the sidewalk. They all looked clean enough. A few could’ve used a shave and a change of clothes. One couple even waved to my wife as they passed by. She waved back.

Then I came over and waved, too.

We waved at the next passersby as well.

It seemed like the local thing to do. I still want to put a sign out saying, “We aren’t extreme bathers.” I don’t know if it’ll help or not, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Perhaps “We don’t litter, either,” is worth mentioning, too. It might be overkill—we don’t want to come off as, well, cidiots—but we do want to show we’re good citizens.

Anyway, we keep waving.

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Robert Cormack
ILLUMINATION

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.