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We intimidate tourists

Some frou-frou travel magazine ranks us as the fifth most unfriendly city for tourists:

Beantown denizens put off readers with their Brahmin-like brains and their skillful backtalk.

Brahmin-like brains? What does that even mean, you pusillanimous codswallopers? And we wouldn't be backtalking if the tourists weren't getting all up in our grills and stuff, amirite?

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Comments

...now go home!

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... which I bought from Newbury Comics in fall '87, just after I finished unpacking.

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it means we're smart asses.

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It must mean that Bostonians have brains like cows. I suspect the writer has confused the two groups he's talking about.

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I've been living in Boston for years and I'm still a little disappointed that I've never met anyone who talks like Charles Emerson Winchester III.

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John Kerry does.

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If you listen to Kerry's speeches in the Vietnam era, he definitely has a Brahmin accent: "how do you ah-sk a man to be the l-ah-st man to die for a mistake".

These days his accent is a lot less distinctive.

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his supposed convictions.

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Boston was founded by people who fully believed that they were better than everyone else - so much better that they embarked on a perilous transatlantic boat ride to get away from the riffraff. I like to think that spirit continues to guide us in our attitude to the rest of the masses that visit us: if you can't keep up, then get out.

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Tough guy I see.

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...we're just being jerks.

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That list is uncannily similar to the list of the 15 biggest American cities. And no way does New York beat Boston for snobbery, even though their own self image is unjustifiably gargantuan. We are world class here. Just a super lazy hat draw fluff piece to shoehorn in a few more mentions of their paid advertisers.

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At the first word when they referred to us as "Beantown".

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When the ridiculous Sarah Palin gave a speech (for God knows what reason) on Boston Common a few years ago, the first words out of her mouth were "hello Beantown!". I suppose she thought this would make her appear "folksy" or "of the people". If she, or her staff, had done any research at all they would have known that no Bostonian ever refers to the city as "Beantown". Ever. If she didn't already have zero credibility, she would have lost it all right then and there.

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was that her cray-cray anti-gobmn't fans were super jazzed to cram themselves into our oldest-in-the-country public transit system afterwards.

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My first reaction on some hearing some tourist to use the word "Beantown" is to punch them in the nuts. They don't say stupid things they get the niceness.

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But you don't because that would be assault and battery. Right?

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You must not be from around here, sarcasm is one of the smartest forms of comedy.

Oh, and to be true to the article, please GTFO of town. lol

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Way harsh.

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I have to say, reading that gives me an odd surge of hometown pride.

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Before I moved here, I found Bostonians nothing but helpful and friendly when I'd visited prior. Granted, there are jerks no matter where you go and maybe these folks just didn't get lucky?

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You probably didn't play the part of a tourist.

If you ask someone for help finding a place or getting around town and you just ask, then you get the good side. If you act like the rest of us are cast members in your own private Colonial Disneyland or expect someone to put up a sign leading you back to the Freedom Trail and now you're pissed you have to ask someone for directions or you drive around staring out your windows at the MIT dome while you crawl at 15 mph across the Mass Ave Bridge (and call it the Harvard Bridge even though that's its proper name), you're gonna get the bad side.

Also, don't go to Southie and ask someone to "talk like Matt and Ben". That gets you the bad side too.

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Back when I worked in one of the music stores where Piano Alley used to be, we'd get tourists coming in all the time asking where Cheers was.

One of my coworkers (a Cabot, no less), would direct them to go inbound at Boylston Street, transfer to the Blue Line at Gov't Ctr, and take it to "Airport." Exit at Airport, then take the convenient shuttle to whatever domestic terminal, and buy a ticket to Los Angeles. From there, they were on their own.

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Absolutely brilliant response from that co-worker of yours. :)

Technically, he or she was correct. Cheers was filmed in Los Angeles.

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number of people forget to bring their brains, common sense, and manners on vacation, no matter what city you go to.

Be respectful that your "resort" is a place where other people are trying to go to work, run errands, and generally live, and your vacation will be infinitely better.

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Boston, or really any city, is a different kind of tourist experience for many people. Unlike a resort, when you visit a city you're among people who are just living their daily lives. Visitors are here to relax and see the sights; locals have to get to work, NOW. If a tourist stops someone in Boston and says, "Can you tell me, um...I'm looking for, uh, what was it Ashley? We're looking for a restaurant, ummmm..." they may find that they're talking to someone's back as it recedes in the distance. But I can't count the number of times I've seen commuters on the T help confused visitors get where they're going, without waiting to be asked.

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Tourists will spread out all the way across the sidewalks like they are in a mall. They don't know how to walk on a city sidewalk. They get confused because they don't have any skills for navigating an old city on foot. It isn't Vegas or EPCOT.

Boston isn't staffed with helpful employees to point the direction to this or that experience.

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Like some in the south.

They sing your praises then gossip behind your back.

"Bless their Hearts"

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There is a building off the Mass Pike Eastbound just over the line in Brighton that has a lot of graffiti on it. "HAVE A BAD DAY" is painted atop the rest of the graffiti.

Nice entrance to the city, eh?

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That's a great example. It sounds mean-spirited if you take it at face value but they're just turning the hackneyed phrase Have A Nice Day on it's head for ironic humor.

When I moved across the state to Boston in the early 80s, I thought people on the street and around town were disengaged from each other. I still do but I also appreciate the wry humor offered in passing. It's an acquired taste well worth acquiring.

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"Locals upset at 5th place finish, riot like they just won a world series"

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Today's Globe editorial about the city's tohrism services needing an "Olympic upgrade", since we are apparently losing ground in world classiness after all. For some reason the editorial focuses on lack of services for visitors from Asian countries, and includes a few good points, like the need for adequate restroom facilities along the Freedom Trail.

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9 am Sunday outside of Back Bay:

Tourist: Do you know where Winston Flowers is?
Me: Uh …
Tourist: They said between Dartmouth and Clarendon.
Me: There's a lot between Dartmouth and Clarendon. Do you know which cross street?
Tourist: No.
Me: Well, it's probably Newbury but maybe Boylston. Are they open?
Tourist: They guy in the shop at Back Bay said they were open.
Me: Do you have a phone?
Tourist: No.
Me: Do you want me to look it up for you? It's on Newbury, but it's closed until 11. It's Sunday morning; I doubt there's any florist open, but you can try.

Then someone at Alewife asking me if I know where the bus to New York is. Do I exude a) a sense of direction and b) a willingness to help confused tourists? I guess so.

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because the "Go Bus" to NYC leaves right from the Alewife busway. Last time I looked, its berth was well-marked.

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a). There actually IS a bus that goes to NYC from Alewife. I was surprised when someone asked me about it.
b). I told the guy I didn't know where it was and that I was surprised to hear there is one. I guess I didn't act in a Masshole fashion.
c). What is wrong with someone asking you a question or directions? Is that something you can't handle?

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Do I exude a) a sense of direction and b) a willingness to help confused tourists? I guess so

Do you get asked for directions in cities where you are a tourist? If so, you must be an unwitting Cosmic Concierge. Embrace it.

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I just wish that some would not use those touristy maps that are not to scale and are missing half of the street names. It makes giving directions tough.

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People often ask me for directions too. I guess I look approachable. I usually know where to point them, but it can be challenging, particularly in an area where I'm walking but they're driving. The answer is something like:
"Well it's right over there but because of the one-ways you'll need to go left and then right and then right and then left and then make a U-turn." Followed by "uhhh ok thanks....."

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The assholes who intimidate tourists didn't live here before they graduated from college.

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Speak for yourself!

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... lousy signage -- and (unlike many tourist destination cities) Boston doesnt seem to do very well at handing out free tourist information, transit maps etc.

One of the least welcoming cities for tourists (on an official level) I've ever seen.

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There's a tourist information center right on the Common that's chock full of the stuff. There's another visitor center run by the National Park Service near the Old South Church. Every hotel in the city no doubt has an ample stock of free tourist information, as does every conference venue. Every T station has maps. Outside of these organizations, who do you think should be "handing out free tourist information"?

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Like the ones that are readily available in NYC? Even for residents this can be quite a task. There is plenty of advertisement-esque free literature, but if there is anything more comprehensive, I have yet to see it. I didn't say "no information" -- just that the overall quality is fairly substandard for a place so dependent on tourism.

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...I look at the wall, or I go online.

How do you think a paper transit map would be helpful? The scale will make it useless for the average visitor who is only visiting a small area of the city. It wouldn't even be legible.

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Perhaps not everyone operates the way you do, however. We found the bus and subway maps in NYC extremely useful.

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Many years ago the MBTA had laminated map cards. They were so handy to have and I always kept one in my wallet.

I wish they still had them as its sometimes qucker than fumbling with a phone.

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Two different cities, with different transit systems and different geographies. Can you accept the possibility that it might be easier to create a workable transit map for one and not the other?

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It sounds like you haven't if you think Boston is vastly more complicated.

How's the public transit system in Heath doing these days?

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I tend to collect transit maps from cities that I have visited and put them on my corkboard at work.

Boston has nothing on Barcelona or Paris for transit complexity, but I have maps from those systems and I can read them. They worked just fine in practice, too.

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...looked at a Boston bus map? Like, of the entire system?

Waiting for "...yes! I have! (on google just now kinda)" in 3...2...

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The T doesn't have many rapid transit line maps available, even. That's the problem for most visitors.

It isn't fair to move the goalposts, darling.

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... (or at least had, when we last visited)... 2 system maps. One showed subways and indicated what bus routes were available at each subway stop. The other showed bus routes. So, you sort of needed both maps if you were using both buses and subways. It might be hard for one person to handle, but there were 5 of us...

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I'll start by saying that Boston is far better than it was 30 years ago when it comes to signage, availability of tourist information, and overall cleanliness and state of repair.

However, MK is onto something here - I think intimidation starts with "place", and I'm not sure what we can do about that. It is true that Boston isn't very good with signage or maintaining signage, particularly outside of the core city (a lot of tourists originate in the Back Bay area and end up in Kenmore, etc. and then get lost). However, the city is very maddeningly laid out if you aren't familiar with older cities, and a lot of people have simply not encountered such environments in their life before. Touring Boston also requires a lot of walking on frequently uneven surfaces, which can also be distressing for some who are not used to that.

I'm also unwilling to believe that people here are hostile to tourists as a rule. I suspect that the "intimidation" factor is because people are not extroverted friendly or approachable. Most people are pretty reasonable about helping out tourists when asked, but people don't always have time to stop. That's where some strategically placed city ambassadors or similar would be valuable in areas outside of the central tourist areas - people would then know to look for the person in the orange shirt for help.

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... that you are more likely to find a Bostonian downtown willing to provide tourist advice than one could find in Chicago (at least back when I lived there).

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I agree with the signage point, though, as swirly points out it has improved. Just not enough.

I've been places that were much worse regarding tourism outreach. Having said that, Boston is organically not tourist-friendly.

Look, for example, at how we describe direction on the T:
First, a rider needs to understand that "Inbound" means towards downtown, and "Outbound" means away from downtown. That knowledge is neither intuitive or obvious-- especially as many stops/stations do not have complete T maps that show that downtown is a hub for changing lines. This is not explained anywhere.
Second, a rider has to have a working knowledge of the city so he can tell where he is relative to downtown. That might be easy from Washington Street on the Green line, but a first-time tourist getting on the Orange Line at Haymarket may not be able to figure that out.

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Really? My neighborhood sees plenty of tourists -- I'd say on the weekends, especially during summer and fall I get asked where things are and where should people eat multiple times per day. The tourists always tell me how much they love Boston. Certainly no one has ever complained about signage! I guess you've been running into grumpy tourists.

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do it nicely in our tasseled leather loafers.

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How many times can we use pusillanimous cods walloper today. That is sheer poetry!

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