Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Vacationing is Overrated

Why do Americans vacation so much? Do we really think it will make us feel better to go somewhere else? Why do we invest so much time and effort into the process? We’re still the same people we are at home. The only thing that changes is the scenery. And then we always have to return back to our mundane lives afterwards. In my opinion, the entire procedure is highly overrated and a real letdown.

Besides, vacationing is exhausting, expensive and a helluva lot of work overall. You either have to get on a plane or drive in your car, usually going far away, which means you have to spend an inordinate amount of time and effort getting there.

Going to a destination is stressful because of the anticipation. And returning is stressful because of the depression. (Especially if you’re coming back from Las Vegas penniless, which has happened to me more than I care to recall.)

This is the tourist season here in San Francisco. People from all over the world converge on this place every summer. You can tell a tourist a mile away. They wear those silly t-shirts that say things like “I Was a Prisoner at Alcatraz” or “Take Me to Fisherman’s Wharf,” or even worse, they wear those really insipid Hard Rock CafĂ© shirts. They walk around with those cartoon maps of the city and ask locals questions like, “What do you people eat around here?” and/or “Is it always this windy?” And they take pictures of everything in sight. I saw a guy the other day taking a picture of a seagull. I guess they don’t have them in Missouri.

I like where I live. I have all my creature comforts right here. There’s my local bar, my favorite dry cleaners, clubs and restaurants. I have my dogs, my baseball cable package and the guy at the liquor store down the street sells me beer at a discount. If I want to go to Europe or Africa or some exotic location, I can always watch it on the Travel Network. I can live vicariously through the people on the show. It costs a lot less, I don’t have to fly and I can turn it off when it gets boring.

And besides, going on vacation usually means you have to spend a lot of time with family and relatives, many of whom you would never associate with if they weren’t related to you. When I walk around Fisherman’s Wharf or in Chinatown here in SF, I notice a lot of families fighting. The kids are annoying the parents, the parents are being heavy-handed with the kids, and grandma and grandpa are whacked out on Thorazine. They look miserable and probably wish they were back in Tulsa rather than stuck in an unfamiliar, very expensive place like San Francisco.

They were looking forward all year to a wonderful vacation, they did all this planning, they even bought new luggage and now they’re having a miserable time. Welcome to the American tradition called the vacation.

And with that diatribe out of system, I must leave you if only for a short while. Where am I going? You guessed it.

No comments: