Smells Like Tourists

April 27, 2001

Recently my wife and I took a vacation. This was earlier in the year than most people take their annual vacations, so for those of you who haven’t taken your mandatory two weeks (or seventeen days, if you live in Germany) yet, here’s something to consider: No two vacations are exactly alike, but if you’re actually going somewhere (and not taking a "vacation at home", which is merely a euphemism for "lots of yard work") there are some things that are constant in every vacation. Here are a few of those things:

  • If you actually get on the road earlier than you had planned, something will happen that will delay you twice as long as the amount of time you saved. For instance, if you get on the road fifteen minutes early, you’ll realize you need to change the oil in the car, and this will take thirty minutes. If you get on the road an hour early, one of the tires will go flat and it will take two hours to replace it. If you’re really eager and get going a day early, your car’s engine will explode.

  • No matter how fast you’re travelling, someone will pass you. If you’re cruising along at 90mph (note: I’m not advocating this, unless you’re in Montana) someone will blow by you doing 120mph. There’s a 50% chance that they will then move directly in front of you and slow down.

  • Traffic will slow down for no discernible reason. Sometimes as you’re travelling along, you’ll notice that traffic will suddenly slow down, come almost to a stop, then, after passing a point that is no different from any other part of the road, everyone will speed up again. This is known as a "phantom accident". Several hours before an accident occurred that slowed down traffic, and even though the road is now completely clear, people are still slowing down as though there were something there. Scientists don’t yet understand this phenomenon.

  • The same five people work at all fast food restaurants. Scientists who were frustrated by their inability to understand traffic slowing phenomena took up cloning and genetic engineering in their spare time. By splicing genes from Dolly the cloned sheep and the Three Stooges, they’ve created an army of fast food workers. Improvements are constantly being made, and it’s expected that future workers will understand that a customer who’s getting a "to-go" order doesn’t need "free refills".

  • No matter where you go, no matter what you do, and no matter what you wear on vacation, waiters, waitresses, and store clerks will all ask the same question: "So, where are you folks from?" Strip malls have become so ubiquitous that the only way to tell Athens, Georgia from Athens, Maine is to look for palm trees and spanish moss. Despite the growing homogenization of the United States, tourists can be spotted from a mile away. Even ones who aren’t wearing loud clothes with enough zinc oxide to coat a 747 plastered on their nose, even tourists who are dressed like everyone else, who talk like everyone else, are known to be tourists. I tried to ask a scientist once, but all he said was, "You’re not from around here, are you?" 

Enjoy this week’s offerings.

You Know You Live in California When…

  1. Your co-worker has 8 body piercings and none are visible.

  2. You make over $300,000 and still can’t afford a house.

  3. You take a bus and are shocked at two people carrying on a conversation in English.

  4. Your child’s 3rd grade teacher has purple hair, a nose ring, and is named Breeze.

  5. You can’t remember… is pot illegal?

  6. You’ve been to a baby shower that has two mothers and a sperm donor.

  7. You have a very strong opinion about where your coffee beans are grown and can taste the difference between Sumatran and Ethiopian.

  8. You know which restaurant serves the freshest arugula.

  9. You can’t remember….. is pot illegal?

  10. A really great parking space can totally move you to tears.

  11. A low speed police pursuit will interrupt ANY TV broadcast.

  12. Gas costs $1.00 per gallon more than anywhere else in the US

  13. A man gets on the bus in full leather regalia and crotchless chaps. No one notices.

  14. Unlike back home, the guy at Starbucks wearing the baseball cap and sunglasses who looks like George Clooney IS George Clooney.

  15. Your car insurance costs as much as your house payment.

  16. Your hairdresser is straight, your plumber is gay, the woman who delivers your mail is into S & M and your Mary Kay rep is a guy in drag.

  17. You can’t remember… is pot illegal?

  18. It’s barely sprinkling rain and there’s a report on every news station about "STORM WATCH."

  19. You have to leave the big company meeting early because Billy Blanks himself is teaching the 4:00 PM Tae Bo class.

  20. You pass an elementary school playground and the children are all busy with their cell phones or pagers.

  21. It’s barely sprinkling rain outside, so you leave for work an hour early to avoid all the weather related accidents.

  22. Hey!!!! Is pot illegal????

  23. Both you AND your dog have therapists

  24. Your power goes off before you finish reading thi…………..

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