August 2021


Don’t Be Stupid Fucking Tourists

I actually uttered this words on a bus earlier this year.

I was somewhere random and needed to go somewhere else random and, like magic, there happened to be a bus that connected the two points. You might think that this is a one off, but the professionals at BVG, the Berlin Public Transit Group, have strung together the most amazing collection of bus routes that connect places in a single seat ride that you wouldn’t think are possible.

Anyhow, I got on this bus, sat down and started reading, not really paying attention.

At the next stop, two people wanted to get on the bus, but the back doors were not opening – the front door was open. Then a woman on the bus, pressed the button to open the doors so that she could get off and these two people got on the bus and immediately sat down.

This I did notice and I knew immediately that these bozos were engaging in fare evasion, thinking to myself, “what assholes.”

Unfortunately for these two people, the bus was quiet enough that the driver noticed and he yelled at them over the PA system, in German, to come to the front and show their tickets.

These two geniuses remained seated and said back, “We don’t speak German.”

So I intervened.

“He wants to see your tickets, so go show them.” – or something like that — The guy got up with his backpack, went to the front of the bus, and started rummaging through his bag. Another clear sign of fare-evading assholes: my public transport ticket is something I show at least twice a day, so I keep it easily accessible.

The girl continued to look confused, and I continued to talk, “Don’t be stupid fucking tourists.”

Clearly It isn’t rocket science to figure out that when you’ve entered a bus in the middle or back and the bus driver starts yelling at you, you need to show your ticket. You do not even need to speak the same language to figure this out.

Perhaps my second comment was unnecessarily cruel, but it’s the basic truth: if you are a tourist, it is incumbent upon you to figure out how public transportation works in the place you are visiting. I’ve made it a point to study how bus systems work in different places – before I get there: Chicago, London, Washington DC, Lisbon, and Kiel – to name a few.

About the only place I’ve ever been completely stumped in advance (and in person) was Lund, Sweden. At the time, the only way to buy a single ride was to use your Swedish mobile phone and to do it via SMS. Otherwise, tourists from outside the country could only buy expensive day-passes and I wanted only one ride. (Even today, you still cannot buy tickets on the bus in most of Sweden unless you use a contactless card; it’s obtuse and confusing, trust me; this from somebody who figures it out in advance.)

Still, after not figuring it out in advance or in person, I approached the bus (mind you I do not speak Swedish) at the front, with the driver, and begged to be let on. I didn’t brazenly behave like an asshole tourist.

I have zero sympathy for tourists (and locals) who evade paying fares.

It gives me a thrill when I see ticket inspectors haul people off of the u-bahn or bus (and not frequently enough from the bus) and fine them for not paying.

What’s also funny is that even though I rarely ride the u-bahn, I have come to recognize some of the fare inspectors, already pulling out my wallet to show that I’m an honest customer, even before the doors to the train are completely shut.

1 comment to Don’t Be Stupid Fucking Tourists