Bad Tourist: Five Thoughtless Things In DC

My niece Amy and I visited the District of Columbia last weekend, and I returned with a fresh installment of Bad Tourist, listing five transgressions I saw travelers commit.

5. A woman at the Kennedy gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery loudly called another member of her party over, despite several signs asking for quiet, and then argued with the guard who tried to shush her.

4. A man laden with cameras at the National Zoo, offended when when a giant panda turned its back, commenced to whooping and shrieking at the animal to try to get it to turn around. (I later saw a woman clapping at a tiger.)

3. On landing at BWI, a man seated on the aisle toward the back of the Southwest jet leaped out of his seat, grabbed his bag and pushed his way to the front of the cabin.

2. A man visiting the National Museum of the American Indian arrived in a T-shirt bearing slogans insulting immigrants. (I found him worthy of his own blog entry.)  

1. OK I cheated on this one — it’s from my visit to DC earlier this year. A boy among a group of teenagers at Union Station sneered at a man wearing large sunglasses: “Nice sunglasses, dude.” The man was blind.


5 thoughts on “Bad Tourist: Five Thoughtless Things In DC

  1. EdFromDC


    #1 in my book, as a local, is tourists standing on the left on Metro escalators. Or getting off an escalator and immediately stopping to figure out where to go.

    1. Jeanne Leblanc Post author

      Hi Ed,

      I hear you on that one, and I noticed it myself. If it’s just one person, you can say “excuse me” and get around them, but big clumps of tourists can really get in the way.

      It seems to me that lots of Americans grow up far from any mass transit and they really don’t know the rules. I wouldn’t know about standing to the right myself if I hadn’t seen it in a number of places with subways. Maybe more signs and announcements, especially at the Metro stops at tourist spots? I suppose, though, that there will always be people who don’t listen, or don’t care.


  2. Kate

    Probably the most annoying thing in the world is when people needlessly stop right at the bottom of the escalator to decide where they’re going. It’s incredibly dangerous and on multiple occasions I’ve had to literally jump over and around people and their luggage just to avoid being crushed by the flow of people coming off the escalator. The escalator does not stop just because you did! So get OUT of the way!!! This is not something that you’d need to be a native to know, it’s just plain common sense. There’s no excuse for it.

  3. Someone's evil twin

    The escalator problem gets really bad at the top when it rains and people just hang about the station. Another DC problem: people getting onto the train or bus and stopping at the entrance, rather than moving towards the center of the car or bus to allow more people to get on. Some people stand so as to block people from moving further in, or block people getting off. I’ve also seen young people sitting when older people – or in one case a pregnant woman – are standing. On the bus I often take in the morning, it’s many kids on their way to elementary or high school, not one of whom have I ever seen give up a seat for anyone. Would it be politically incorrect to remark that in my experience, this doesn’t happen in neighborhoods which are heavily Hispanic?


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