The wait is over

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There is a palpable energy in the air in my small town – a feeling only locals can understand when we are within arms reach of getting our town back.  The Labor Day Long Weekend is upon us and, for those who are fortunate enough to have today off, that means a three-day weekend.  The multiple-lane highways that once allowed travelers to reach our vacation destinations in Muskoka are already becoming congested in the Southbound lanes and the stress levels of those trapped in their cars in slow-moving traffic is escalating exponentially.

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But as the tension increases in those turtle-paced vehicles leaving our little piece of paradise, the stress in the minds of the locals slowly abates.  Faces that have not been seen during the summer daylight hours slowly peek out of their windows, tentatively gauging the right time to emerge from their summer hibernation and engage in the life we left behind a few months ago.

The summer is over.  We have survived the tumultuous invasion of a population that we graciously accept for two months, although their civility leaves much to be desired.  We have overcome the barbarity of those who demand instead of ask, of those who expect instead of request.

And along with the manners of our city guests, my writing brain and my spare time to read have been held hostage but the window of those long-lost opportunities has finally been cracked open.  The breath of rekindling those passions has been blown into the stale air that I have been breathing the last few months and the breeze of creativity has begun to churn the dead leaves in the corners of my mind.  There really is light at the end of our summer tourism tunnel.

I hope you all had a great summer and I look forward to greeting the many faces, and blogs, I have missed over the last couple of months!

“Touricide” and a brief message to the transient population

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It has already begun and the long weekend is still days away.  The simple act of easily turning left onto any of our local roads is a shadowed memory of its former self.  They have descended upon us and the seemingly mundane tasks we used to perform with ease now require an expletive filter and a great deal of patience (or high blood pressure pills) (or both).

Almost three years ago, I wrote this post about the tourist season in our small town.  It was that post that sparked some interesting conversation about these wayward travelers and also got me Freshly Pressed.  To those not ensconced in the WordPress blogging world, being Freshly Pressed was a nice pat on the back.  We were recognized for writing something interesting that would encourage a discussion.  And that it did…..on many levels.

I will preface the words that follow by reminding you that I work in the hospitality and tourism industry.  My job is to serve people and I truly enjoy it.  Our lodge guests have slowly become like friends and family and it is a pleasure to go to work.  But the myriad of other temporary inhabitants of our little village are a like a box of chocolates and, as Forrest Gump so eloquently put it, you never know what you’re gonna get.   I realize that these summer vacationers are the bread to our butter, the wind beneath our small town wings, but, as each year rolls into the next, the level of courtesy and manners shown by a substantial percentage of these visitors leaves much to be desired.

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The act of “Touricide” has crossed my mind at many points throughout our busy seasons.  I’m sure if the facts of my potential case were presented to a jury of my peers the charges against me would be dropped and the crime would be ruled as justifiable.

I don’t mind that our population explodes exponentially in the summer months.  I plan accordingly knowing my routine tasks will take much longer because the lines have quadrupled in length.  I leave my house much earlier to deal with the sudden onset of traffic in a town where six cars on the road in the spring is considered gridlock.

What I cannot tolerate is the arrogant attitude of so many of these visitors, thinking we live in this town only to serve them in the summer.  You have entered our home.  We have greeted you with courtesy and respect and all we ask in return is the same level of civility.  We will bend over backwards to meet your needs and we ask so little of you.  Smile.  Say thank you, and mean it.  Take a moment to appreciate that you are on vacation and relax.  Things may not get done at city speed but they will get done and we will make sure they get done properly and that they meet or exceed your expectations.

I wish everyone celebrating the long weekend a safe and happy holiday.  Take the time to smile and say hello to a stranger.  Perhaps all they need is a little small town warmth to melt that cold city shell.