Most of our summer visitors are down-to-earth families having a great time who actually enhance our experience of life in Tahoe, but, too often, we have to deal with people who are totally unreasonable, uncooperative, outrageously demanding, petty, stupid, and who demonstrate a complete disregard for living in peace and harmony with others.
It makes you wish you could use good old fashioned frontier justice on them.
The good people are observant and understand how vital it is to follow the basic rules of common courtesy and civil propriety. They have a good time, enjoy some great laughs, great conversations and think of others. We wish everyone could be like them.
I know, we are not supposed to judge. It’s all good. Forgive and forget. Live and let live. Let them walk all over you and use you as a punching bag.
I’ve discussed the problem tourist with many of my esteemed colleagues, and have heard plenty of stories more appalling than mine. They have grandiose theories as to why full grown adults in their 40s, 50s and older — people who appear to be mature, well-to-do, sober, experienced, intelligent, well-dressed homo sapiens — can be such complete imbeciles, even racist toward some of our fellow Latino brethren.
My pet peeve with problem tourists is when they block private driveways that are clearly posted, and take their sweet time loading or unloading all their outdoor recreational gear, preventing you from getting in and out of your property and conducting business. They casually do their thing, make you wait, and don’t allow you access to your business and property. When you call them on it they treat you like you are the problem.
You want to be nice about it and give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they can’t read. Maybe they didn’t see the sign. Maybe they don’t know what a driveway looks like. Maybe they think you will be extremely nice and won’t mind being inconvenienced to the point that you can’t function.
Maybe they think their needs are more important. Maybe they only have an IQ of 32, in which case, because there are so many of them, you know the world is doomed.
This sort of thing happens frequently every day where I work. The problem is not inadequate parking. It happens when there are plenty of clearly marked parking spaces within spitting distance of the trespass.
At times like these it seems that anything you say will sound insensitive, so you try, “Hi. How are you folks doing? I’m sorry, but I have to ask you to move, please.”
They respond with, “We’ll just be a minute.” Ten minutes later they are still there. Or they say, “We’re leaving right now” as they get out of the car and open the trunk to load their gear or tie it down. At least they are on Tahoe time.
Then you say, “There is parking available right over there. Could you move so we can get through?” You strain to say please again, and even offer to help them move their stuff.
Then they become indignant and tell you that you need to be patient, so you say, “I’m sorry, but this area is posted no parking except for us and our guests.”
Almost without fail, their response to that is, “We’re not parking, we’re just loading.”
So, you ask them if their gear shift lever is in the “park” position, and you know it is. They look at you dumfounded, like you are a total jerk and say there is no need to be rude.
So I tried something new this year, just to keep my sanity. I asked a guy for the name of his town and his street address. He asked why. I said I wanted to camp in his driveway and have a picnic just to return the favor. Surely that would be OK with him.
He answered, “Yeah?! You do that and I’ll blow your head off!”
Now why didn’t I think of that? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.
Bob Sweigert is a Sierra Sun columnist, published poet, former college instructor and ski instructor. He has a B.A. and an M.A.T. from Gonzaga University. He has lived at Lake Tahoe for 30 years.