Be Kind to Tourists

I recently moved to the Washington DC area for a job. I’ve been in town for about two months now. That’s apparently long enough to look like a local and not a tourist. I know this because I have been asked to help people around town.

The first time was helping a couple of German tourists figure out how much money to put on their metro card based on where they were going. The second time was to help someone figure out which train to take on the metro. Once I got asked for directions on the street to a Smithsonian.

Most other times have been like this. It’s probably happened about a dozen times now. I guess I just look friendly and helpful.

Anyway, last Monday was Inauguration Day. I planned on meeting a coworker to watch the parade. I figured that I would be so far back on the National Mall that going to the Inauguration itself wouldn’t be as fun. The ceremonies started at 11:30am and the parade started at 2:35pm. I got on the metro at about 10am, thinking I would get to the parade early so that I could actually see things. I was happily riding along, when a man asked me how to get from the yellow line (which we were on) to the red line. I explained which station he could transfer at and said that I was getting off at that stop and could point him in the right direction. He asked if I was going to the ceremonies and I replied that I was going to the parade. He asked why not the Inauguration itself and I explained that I would be near the Washington Monument watching a jumbotron, so I was going to the parade instead. He then asked if I would go to the Inauguration if I could be closer to the Capitol Building. I said yes. He then proceeded to explain that he was part of the Presidential Press Corps and pulled tickets out of his pocket.

Then he gave me one. Suddenly I had the opportunity to be right near the Capitol Reflecting Pool.


We got off the train and walked to the red line, chatting on the way. As I got off a stop before him I thanked him profusely; he gave me his business card and asked that I email him my experiences during the day. I said that I would and we parted ways, since his ticket was for a closer seat.

When I got home I google searched him. His facebook appeared and the cover picture was of him shaking hands with President Obama. He writes for Pacific Times and is the President of a College in California. His name is Dr. Hong Beom Rhee is you want to look him up as well.

The next day, I was asked for directions on the metro by a different tourist. Alas, this one didn’t give me any free stuff. However, the moral of the story is to always help tourists. You never know who you might meet.


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