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Randomly Helping Tourists

weather: sunny
outside: 25°C
mood: cheerful
I helped a lost tourist couple today. No, I don't point people in the wrong direction for fun.

I haven't had much of a chance to do this lately because the area where I work isn't a huge touristy area. It's a business and yuppy district. It's not that exciting. But it is nice here, so they do come out in the summer to walk around and especially because it's been so warm out lately.

I used to do this when I was still in school. We had tourists on campus all the time, doing the Universal "I'm Lost" Gesture of scalp scratching and squinting at maps, occasionally accompanied by loud, angry yelling at the male travel companion for one reason or another. Usually because he came Second in the Idiot Contest, he was too much of an idiot to come in First.

I just go "Hi, you kinda look lost, did you need some help?" and take it from there. I think because I'm small, Asian, female, well-dressed, well-kempt, etc. people trust me.

Sometimes, they're not lost, they're just engaged in the classic linear optimization problem of how best to go about doing all these things they want to do while they're here.

So, that was a small bit of non-work.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 6th, 2003 08:53 pm (UTC)
Bah, all that matters is that you don't give off serious danger vibes. I'm big, spazzy, and odd looking... but not really dangerous looking. Tourists may be afraid to ASK for directions, but they're mostly okay when you offer it. I've never had anyone run screaming, at least.
Jun. 6th, 2003 10:15 pm (UTC)
I get asked for directions a lot when I'm home in Philadelphia - and, oddly, occasionally here in Harbin too. I think it's because I'm small, clean-cut, and too weak to be threatening.

I always worry about giving people driving directions back home, though; I'm not a driver, and so my perception of the city is from a pedestrian's/bicyclist's standpoint. I live in constant fear that I'll accidentally tell someone to take a wrong turn somewhere, and that they'll end up driving into the Delaware River, and that their last thought, as the waters close above their car, will be "He lied!"
Jun. 8th, 2003 02:55 am (UTC)
Re: I think because I'm small, Asian, female, well-dressed, well-kempt, etc. people trust me.
I rarely approach people and offer directions, personally (I tend to be so focused on various assignments and projects, when on the college campus, that I'm relatively 'oblivious' to these 'side thoughts', I think;> ;/), but I often have people approach me to request them. I think, in my own case, it's more because I probably appear to know where I'm going, I tend to smile quite a lot (even when I don't realize I'm smiling, apparently, I often have a friendly, relatively 'open' expression, I've been told;>), and, possibly, because I tend to dress fairly neatly, as well. I'm relatively big/tall, Caucasian, and male, though, so I'm not sure these other characteristics of size, ethnicity, and gender really play a significant part in how 'approachable' a person may seem. However, these are two different situations, really: one where you are approaching others (you may seem less 'threatening', due to you size and gender, neat dress, etc.:), and one where I am being approached (I probably seem confident, open and unafraid of being approached by strangers, and knowledgeable of the area:). I'm sure there have been quite a few sociological/psychological studies on such situations, though, and this makes me curious what their findings might actually be.;>

'Small bits of non-work' are definitely moments to be cherished, whatever the reasons/excuses may be for them.;> I hope you're not working too hard, but then, I do that all of the time, myself, and I think I'm probably happiest when I'm very busy and active, so I believe I can relate.:) Those small 'respites' are very welcome, at times, though.:)

Your Friend,
John :)
Jun. 8th, 2003 09:34 pm (UTC)
This is so cool... because I was a tourist in Vancouver this weekend!!! :)
Jun. 28th, 2003 11:04 am (UTC)
. I think because I'm small, Asian, female, well-dressed, well-kempt, etc. people trust me.

Oh, *that's* why I'm approached for directions on a weekly basis! I live in Berkeley and work in San Francisco. No matter how cross I think I look from another stressful day at work, I still get asked for directions in either city. Even when I'm with my boyfriend (who's blonde, blue-eyed, and from England), I'm the one who gets asked.

Anyway, I saw your comments in nicosian's journal, and I had seen one of her fabric store posts in customers_suck, which is how I found you.

Great journal. Love the layout. I'm of Filipino descent, but I went to high school with ABCs (American-Born Chinese) and went to college with FOBs (Fresh off the Boat Chinese). I hope you don't mind if I add you, since I like reading about culture.
Jun. 28th, 2003 11:07 am (UTC)
Hello *wave* *wave*

No matter how cross I think I look

You use the word "cross" that way too! =D
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


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