Far Out: Post-Vacation Blues
By: Jeannette de Beauvoir, April 17, 2012
I have them, all right: the post-vacation blues. I recently spent a week on Isla Mujeres, an island in the Mexican Caribbean where the water is aqua, the sand is soft, the air is warm and the service is spectacular.
Coming back to the outer Cape was a rude awakening in a number of ways.
One cannot help but compare the two places. Both are tourist destinations; both, in fact, are primarily able to exist thanks to tourism. Both offer sun and sand, excursions to see sea creatures (on the Cape we have whale-watching; on Isla Mujeres there’s the opportunity to swim with dolphins and manatees), fishing, food, and nightlife.
And that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
Like many other Cape residents, I cringe when the first carloads of tourists arrive. And for good reason: people on vacation are not people on their best behavior. They act as though Commercial Street belongs to them, personally; they party late and often; they forget the niceties of “please” and “thank you.”
In Mexico, I observed the same behavior. Tourists getting drunk and loud and boorish. Tourists behaving as though everything around them exists for their benefit only. Tourists complaining, under-tipping, getting in the way, and ignoring the fact that their playground is in fact somebody else’s home.
And do you know how the people around them reacted? With calm, with courtesy and without judgment.
Picture that happening on the outer Cape. We’re too busy working on our superior I’m-not-on-your-vacation smirks.
Service with a smirk?
Don’t get me wrong: I like the summer season. Well, parts of it, anyway. I like seeing people having a good time, and — selfish beast that I am — I enjoy a lot of what they enjoy: the myriad restaurants, the shows, the beaches.
Yet I’m constantly amazed at how I (or anyone, for that matter) am treated at these various venues.
In many places out here, you’re lucky if someone notices that you need service. If they do notice, they make it very clear to you that waiting on you is a burden and an interruption. There’s a certain malicious pleasure taken when the payment card you offer isn’t one they accept, or when — heaven forbid — it’s rejected.
Sighs and eyerolling ensues. They want to keep you moving, because it’s all about quantity: more business, more tips, more, more, more …
Quality, not quantity
In Mexico, you can sit at your table for as long as you like. You don’t have to keep buying drinks. You don’t have to keep buying anything. There’s no frenetic push to keep you moving and there’s nothing but pleasure taken when the workers around you notice your pleasure. People work harder there than anyone I’ve ever seen on the Cape, and complain a great deal less.
We could learn a lot from them.
As I sit here feeling my own post-vacation blues, I’m thinking about what I can learn from my experience, and how to apply it as we enter our own busy season.
Except for performing weddings, I’m not personally directly involved with any of the tourist industries; but I do interact with tourists. Perhaps I can take a page from the Mexican playbook and be a little more pleasant to them this year. Be more forgiving of their slow and erratic driving, their whining children, their entitled natures.
It might be the nicest tribute I could make to my hosts on that faraway Caribbean island. And that would be pretty far out, wouldn’t it?