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An Open Letter To Tourists From A Local

A South County resident from birth shares some pearls of wisdom to the tourists who come to visit.

Dear visitors to our fine communities, 

First off, thank you very much for choosing us to be your go-to destination for your summer vacation.

No, seriously. Tourism and beaches are what helps keep our town running smooth. We appreciate the business more than we let on and we hope that you will find this place to be well worth the money.

With that being said, there are a few small rules that some of us local folks would like to address. These may seem like things that you may take for granted, but for us, it can be a real hassle. 

  • If you are ordering lunch somewhere like Iggy's, Aunt Carrie's, or some other place that usually has an absurdly long line, please know what you want BEFORE you get to the window. It is very annoying for not just the people behind you but for the people at the window who are trying to order. We get that it's your turn, but you have no idea how bothersome it can be when you're holding up the line because you don't know what the hell a doughboy is and need some super complex explanation. Plus, sometimes the people who are working there are trying to meet a certain quota and if they do not meet that quota then the owner may not be very happy. This happens a lot more than you think. So please, decide your order before you get in line. And don't forget to tip! 
  • Be prepared for very convoluted directions from us Rhode Islanders. If you are a fellow Rhode Islander, than you may disregard this message. If you are not, then let me explain. A lot of Rhode Islanders have this tendency to give directions by landmarks (or in the case of the extreme Rhode Islanders, landmarks that don't even exist anymore). We know it's not the way that you are familiar with, but just bear with us and do not get too frustrated. We will be more than happy to meet you halfway, especially if you happen to have a map handy or there's a random piece of paper around. We promise we won't try to mislead you with directions. 
  • Do not act like you own the place. You're only here for a certain amount of time. The rest of us live hear year round. Nothing gets locals more riled up than a tourist who acts like a jerk to everybody and tries to act like they own the place. 
  • If you are at the beach and you need to go to the store then for the love of God PLEASE dress properly. There is a reason that "No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service" exists. In the words of a hilarious sign at Stop n' Shop says "Your perfect tan makes our pasty employees feel bad". It doesn't matter if you're running in to get a drink or checking on something, have the common courtesy to cover up a little.
  • If you're going to stay down here, while it's fine to have something familiar like a chain restaurant or fast food at couple times, don't do it every night. Sample the local cuisine and go out to the local restaurants! We have some fine seafood restaurants out here and even if you don't like seafood, you can always go out for Italian, Chinese, or Japanese. There are restaurants around that serve those types of foods too. Regardless of where you go to eat dinner, be sure to be courteous. 
  • While at the beach, pay attention to the flags on the Pavilion. They don't change color just to look pretty. They are an indicator on the safety of the water. Green is good. Yellow is cautious. Red is bad. And by bad I mean riptides. Riptides everywhere. And from personal experience, riptides are NOT to be trifled with. When I was 10 I was only chilling out up to my waist and I lifted my feet up for five seconds and next thing I know, I'm caught in a riptide. Thankfully, a lifeguard saved me because as much of a good swimmer as I was, I did not know the proper way to get out. By the way, the proper way to get out, which I learned afterwards, is to swim parallel to the beach and try not to fight the current too hard. 

By this time all of you locals are probably thinking "Yeah yeah yeah...now what about the traffic?! Come on, you know that's the biggest thing!" and I completely agree with you. So these next three tips have to do with traffic and driving related matters. And let me tell you, there is a need to go over these. 

  • First things first – Yield. Means. Yield. And if you don't know what yield means, it means you must slow down in order for the other person the right of way. It does not mean speed up just as they're going around and nearly get into a car accident. It doesn't matter if it means that you are going onto Route 1 or you're at the Narragansett Rotary (where I tend to run into this way too many times to count), just remember what yield means. And if you're on the rotary and you hear a beeping horn and someone swearing at you, then you likely are doing it wrong. 
  • Second thing, do not invent parking spaces at the beach or elsewhere. Parking is where parking says it is. I can understand if you may mistake an area for parking that is right there. But don't block an area that is supposed to be a thru way just because you want some primo access to wherever it is that you're going. That also reminds me. 
  • If the Town Beach parking lot says Lot Full, it doesn't mean that you get a special exception. It means that the lot is full. You must find parking elsewhere. I understand that parking at the Town Beach is terrible and you have to get there at an absurdly early time in order to get any kind of good spot, but that's the way it goes. Get there early if you want that awesome parking space. 
  • And one more thing to round this out to an even ten: Be respectful on the road. If you see someone who looks like they've been waiting for ages for some kind of opening, don't be afraid to let them through. And if it happens to be someone in a gold Chevy Cavalier with glasses and a Montreal Expos hat on saying "I LOVE YOU" then it is likely yours truly. Be polite on the road and remember that unless if it's an emergency or you really need to use the bathroom (true story -- the only speeding ticket I ever got was a result of me speeding home to go to the bathroom), try not to speed and cut people off. And please, do not pretend to be Vin Diesel and peel out everywhere you go. Actually, that one goes out to everybody, not just the tourists. 

These are our communities. We live here year round. We see the chills of autumn usher away the summers, suffer through the bitter winters and we see this place in all of its glory. We don't mind sharing our stuff, in fact it helps us a lot when you enjoy our geographical assets. Just be gentle with it and don't try to ruin it for everybody else. Don't make us have to yell out "THIS IS WHY WE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS!!" We don't want to do that. 

Just remember these little points of discussion and your summers shall be made all the better and all the more fun! Hope you enjoy your stay in South County and be sure to try the chowder and clamcakes!

Sincerely, 

Mel

p.s. I'd be a terrible daughter if I didn't put in a shameless plug for Catarina's Italian Village down on Boston Neck Road in Narragansett. My mom works there and the restaurant has some great Italian food. So be sure to check that place out too!

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Govstench July 18, 2012 at 12:06 PM
To me,the act of littering is showing no respect for the town and its people. I would sum it up by saying that tourists should show respect to the place they are visiting and residents should have more pride in their town by not littering.
Ted Geisel July 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
I think the point she was trying to make was that in most fast food places the menus are placed up high so that you can see them before you're standing in front of the cashier. It can be frustrating when people get to the front of the line and they just don't know what they want. If they need to be told what a doughboy is that is one thing, if they choose to socialize instead of making up their mind then they have also chosen to waste the time of those behind them. I do agree with you about the tipping though. I tip for service but handing me a bag isn't something I considering tip worthy. I find it interesting that no one would dream of tipping the cashier at McDonalds but obviously some employees feel they are entitled to a tip for performing the same function at a more local venue.
Ted Geisel July 18, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Normally I agree, for the most part, with what Mr. Trager has to say but in the case I have to disagree. While I don't agree with a lot of what Mel has said I think that the Patch does provide some insight into how the people in my community are thinking. Especially with regard to the newer "entitlement generation" that seems to be out there. What you see here is a sign of things to come. We have chosen to move away from being dependent on our community to being dependent on the government and it shows. You don't need to respect your neighbors when all you need is the support from your government.
Dave100AP July 19, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I think it could best be stated by asking that tourists treat our towns and residents as if this were their home too, not just some place they spend a few days or weeks. That's not asking too much, or condescending.
Lisa herbert July 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM
I honestly think the visitors are usually happy and busy , spending their money in this piss -poor State. We are lucky to live near such a great sea shore.The locals are usually the grumpy, impatient..rude-driving folks...I always try to be open and kind to visitors , while at the same time, ducking the snotty eye-rolls from locals.

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