Dear Stupid American* Tourists In San Francisco,
Summer’s right around the corner, so I know that we’ll be seeing each other real soon. And you know, I’ve been good over the last few years, I haven’t complained about you (too much), I’ve let you go about your business. So this year I thought I might make a few requests. You certainly don’t have to oblige me, but at least hear me out.
Firstly, San Franciscans aren’t really big on tourists. Loud, arrogant Americans who have no desire to learn about local history or customs are about as welcome in SF as they are in Paris. I know we’re part of the same country and all, but we’re also kind of...artsy. And liberal. And sometimes progressive. And I know this may be hard to believe, but we’re not actually embarrassed about this. So even if these traits are laughable in your neck of the woods, they’re the heart and soul of this city. You might want to wait till you’re home to insult us. No, that protest isn’t a joke. Please stop pointing at the gay couple holding hands.
Now. I might recommend you look at a map before you get here. No, no. Not of San Francisco, of the United States. Okay? See there, how California is really big? Where the part towards the bottom – we call that Southern California – touches Mexico? And how Mexico is kind of warm? And how like, when you think of California you think of LA and Hollywood and Beverly Hills? But see how those parts are also near the bottom? And then how San Francisco is not? And also, if you look closer at the state, you see how SF is located on a bay? On the Pacific (brrrrrr) Ocean? Okay, remember that. Now, look at some weather reports. Any light bulbs yet? A ha! Yes! There it is! San Francisco is located in NORTHERN California! You WILL have to bring long-sleeved shirts and pants! It may be July, but that fog is going to roll in and you will want your coat and scarf. Yes, scarf. In July.
Don’t buy new shoes for the trip. Those hills you see in all those movies and pictures? They’re not pretend. “Uphill both ways” is entirely possible around here, and just walking a couple blocks can take some serious effort. Your unbroken-in (glaringly) white sneakers are going to give you blisters.
Don’t wear a fanny pack. Ever. Think of your children.
And speaking of children. Look. San Francisco is a “big city.” That means there are lots of “big city” things here, like homelessness and people who swear on the street and service people who don’t speak English in addition to those gays you were pointing at. If you want to protect your children from seeing these sorts of “unsavory” city things, I recommend you vacation elsewhere. Like your backyard.
The cable car is totally fun, but it is a little dangerous. If you lean too far out, you can get hit by things that you pass by. You will note that there is no guard rail. Not even an invisible one. So if it looks like your leg is going to hit that pole unless you pull it back inside the car, you’re probably right. And then if you don't pull your leg back in and it gets all banged up, do you know whose fault will that be? No, not the fault of the cable car, the cable car drivers, or all of San Francisco. It will be YOUR fault for being too stupid to understand laws of motion in the absence of a seatbelt. Double true for falling off the cable car entirely.
Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY: Do NOT go around bitching about how San Francisco isn’t really that great if the ONLY place you go is from Union Square to Fisherman’s Wharf and back again, the ONLY food you eat is from chain restaurants, and the ONLY shops you visit are stores you already have in your own damn mall. Unless you’re drunk and have a tremendous sense of irony, there are about a million billion things to do here that are cooler** than going on a Segway tour at Ghirardelli Square.
*Immediate caveat: I don’t think that most tourists, most Americans, or most American tourists are stupid. But I have been insulted directly and indirectly by enough visitors that I am writing this for them. Not you.
**Like going to a wine festival at Ghirardelli Square, where your friend will have the opportunity to take this picture.