Anybody who frequents From The Land of Palm Trees on a regular basis, and there are many who do, knows that I am an advocate for Charleston as the World's Best Tourist Destination. Her people, her places, her history and her beauty are second to none. This fair city, my city has earned numerous awards and accolades over the past decade, and I have trumpeted her worth all over the blogosphere like Louis Armstrong blowing his horn. My wife and I are smack dab in the middle of two straight weeks of various out of town guests visiting with us in our home. We love to have friends and family visiting with us. If nothing else it gives us a chance to be tourists in our own city.
For instance, since last Wednesday we have kayaked the Folly River, enjoyed happy hour at the Pavilion Bar, dined at Husk, King Street Grille, Bowen's Island Restaurant and Bocci's. We did the Cooper River Bridge Run and spent the day on the beach at Sullivan's Island, visited the South Carolina Aquarium, enjoyed a carriage ride around the city and shopped on King Street with our guests. Tomorrow we will greet yet more guests, as my brother and sister-in-law arrives for The Masters and the Easter Holiday, so don't look for this tourist in your own town lifestyle to end any time soon.
For the most part, our guests have experienced the Holy City at it's finest. They have recognized just what I mean when I write about Easy Livin' and Southern Hospitality here in From The Land of Palm Trees. Tonight, however while we waited for what ended up being an absolutely wonderful Charleston Ghost and Graveyard Tour with Bulldog Tours our guests got to see a thankfully rare occurrence in a city that prides itself on treating people as guests in a world class tourist destination. While waiting in the corridor outside of the Bulldog Tours box office with a large group of guests who were taking one of several Bulldog Ghost Tours I made the mistake of standing in front of a doorway leading to what I didn't realize at the time was another Tour Company box office, located across the corridor from Bulldog Tours. The website for this tour, The Original Pub Tour of Charleston, indicates that it is operated by the Lesesne Tour Company and offers it's guests the chance to experience a tour operated by "experienced beer brewers" and offering "a very intimate and specialized tour placing quality over quantity so that everybody can enjoy a comfortable atmosphere" as they tour historic pubs located all over Historic Charleston. What you won't read on the website is anything about the rude and nasty treatment that visitors to the Holy City who make the same mistake that this guy did by standing in front of the their doorway might receive. As I was standing and talking with some other guests waiting for their Ghost Tour, the door to the Pub Tour box office opened and a young women whom I presume to be an agent for the Pub Tour appeared in the door and said, in a very abrasive tone, something to the effect of "would you move and quit standing in front of our doorway." Those who heard her were somewhat taken back by the rude and condescending tone, to the degree of raised eyebrows. I guess I wouldn't have been taken back if she would have kindly reminded me that I was blocking her entry way, but the tone was mean spirited and ugly, not what those of us who live here proudly proclaim as Southern Hospitality. After a couple of seconds to digest what had just happened, I opened the door to the office and spoke with the young lady and as I was reminding her that she really shouldn't talk to people with such an abrasive tone, she looks at me and says, "yeah, right, whatever, just get out of the way and don't block my door."
I guess that as a local, one with an extreme knowledge and understanding of how hard most Charlestonians who are in the tourism business work to get it right, I should be glad that this experience happened to me, and not one of our thousands of guests. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that If it happened to me the nastiness from this person who represents one of our tour companies has and will probably be shared elsewhere with others including those who may be visiting this wonderful city for the first time and may not have an acute awareness of the true Charleston experience.