Thursday, October 15, 2009

Crack Tourism Office

In my hotel here in Hawaii (did I mention that I am staying at a five-star hotel on the big island of Hawaii), there is an office staffed with smiling folks with perfect teeth, wearing hotel-issue loud Hawaiian shirts. This crack team of elite locals has the soul purpose of giving advice on activities, both here on the hotel grounds and in the local area. I can only assume that they have attended some sort of tourism boot camp where they must go potty in standard military-style latrines using old corn cobs for toilet paper. This is necessary for them to be able to deal with whiney, overbearing tourists. The staffers then surely spend several years studying flash cards and life-size wall charts to be sure they know every street name, shop, and tattoo parlor in a 50-mile radius. Finally, they must spend years building up their tans. This is somehow necessary to make them look more professional, more authentic, and more relaxed.

With all of this completely fictional background information, I strode confidently into their office seeking some information to plan a half-day excursion with my daughter. I was seeking something fun and exciting. Perhaps a jaunt to help me learn more about the local culture and customs. Perhaps an outing to explore the local fauna and flora. Certainly to do something that I could not experience in my own everyday (i.e. non-paradise) existence. I was called to sit with a very toothy, tan, and Hawaiian-looking lady. She was wearing a professional-looking, gold-colored plastic name tag. I was filled with certainty that in a matter of moments, she would plan me up a trip that would give me something to talk about until I keeled over, possibly from eating too many cheesy poofs. This tourism "expert" then proceeded to fill out a map highlighting the local Walmart, K-Mart, and Safeway! She followed up this coup-de-grace with an inspired idea for my daughter and I to go on a coffee-tasting tour at an old warehouse. I looked over at my daughter who was sitting next to me. She looked over at me and ever so gently shook her head. I had to pinch my thigh to keep from busting out in giddy laughter that could have lead to my eviction from the hotel.