Monday, August 01, 2005

Interns vs. Tourists

Another summer in DC. Another season of bitching about the heat, women's shoes and the lack of easily accessible beaches. Yet perhaps the heartiest complaints a DC resident will hear are regarding the twain poxes on our fair city-- Interns and Tourists. Like Beatles versus Stones, pop versus soda, Christianity versus everybody else, the side you take in this Beltway version of Who Sucks the Most? says a lot about you. Yet, for all the blogging bitching about both groups I've read this summer, to say nothing of the conversations I've heard for five years now, no one has done a side-by-side comparison to declare a "winner."

I feel that I am a worthy judge for such a noble competition. Having had recent experience making a complete ass out of myself as a tourist in many foreign lands, I am sympathetic to the disorientation that accompanies all travelers. Likewise, I have held no less than three internships (Senate, think tank and media outlet) in my youth and can navigate the icky world of the intern like the street I was born on. Personal biases now accounted for, I can also be a real bitch, too.

So let's consider some of the major categories in which Tourists and Interns compete to become the most annoying guests in Washington since the cicadas.


Tourists: Cannot dress themselves to save their lives. Pleated demin shorts, a fanny pack and a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap do not a fetching travel outfit make. Oh, and put away that fold-out map with the 3-D Washington monument-- you look like a douchebag.

Interns: Cannot dress themselves to save their lives. Miniskirts, Steve Madden platform heels and epaulet-clad blue blazers with khakis do not an approproate work outfit make. Oh, and take off your ID badge before you get on the Metro-- you look like a douchebag.

More Annoying: Tourists


Tourists: Hordes of crying children and angry teenagers. The shrieking, the whining...oh, the humanity! However, Tourists are often accompanied by Locals who guide them into quiet alcoves, usher them to kid- and Grandma-friendly restaurants and generally bear the brunt of their most obnoxious questions, ie. "But why is it called 'Foggy Bottom?'"

Interns: Each other. Interns who are only in the District for the summer are incapable of doing anything, including having sex, in a group smaller than six people. Like the strain of flu that becomes exponentially nastier as more people get sick, interns get stupider in these groups. I witnessed the ultimate example of this on Saturday night at 3rd Edition, where a group of eight be-highlighted young women bogarted the bartender for a good ten minutes, debating whether they had enough cash among them to buy their vodka-cranberries or if they should try to get the guys next to them to pony up. The angry bartender tried to leave on several occasions but was summoned back with a plaintivly drawled "Ah'm so soooory, we're ready, kay?!" Drinks ordered and put on Daddy's AmEx, they then proceeded to block the door and the only source of ventilation, loudly complaining about how hard they had worked over the last week and what total losers their bosses were. Well, sorry ladies-- those envelopes aren't going to lick themselves.

More Annoying: Interns

Metro Etiquette

Tourists: One more time for the cheap seats: stand on the right, walk on the left. There is no Metro stop in Georgetown but you will survive this; the rest of us do. Please do not ride between 7 and 9 AM, as some of us do live here and would like to get to work on time. And for the love of Pierre L'Enfant, do not greet every stop with an announcement of how many more stations until the Smithsonian.

Interns: I'll give credit where it's due, those little scamps figure out all of the above relatively quickly. Occasionally some poor girl's heel will get stuck in a grate, but that's actually pretty good for a chuckle.

More Annoying: Tourists

Duration of Stay

Tourists: A week, tops.

Interns: Eight to ten weeks, depending on how many credit hours your college is giving you to open and sort constituent letters.

More Annoying: Interns


Tourists: If I can take a moment to be, well, not snarky, I'll confess something. Sometimes, the Tourists are kind of cute. I remember one time in college when I was jogging by the White House and overheard a little boy pipe up "Mommy, I can't believe that's where the President lives!" Yes, with moments of innocence and sweet awe like that, those pesky souls sometimes remind me of what I love about this town despite all that makes me batshit crazy. They are here for all of the noble, educational, historical sights that balance out the spectacular bullshit DC trades for a living.

That said, I wish they wouldn't gawp at people who play sports on the Mall. We're adults playing kickball, not exotic birds of prey in a zoo.

Interns: There are two main kinds of interns; Scared Intern and Cocky Bastard Intern. You know Scared Intern by her quietly preppy clothing and petrified expression, like she's expecting someone to tap her on the shoulder and say "I'm sorry, but you don't belong here." You might not notice Scared Intern, though, because Cocky Bastard Intern completely overshadows everyone else in the office. CBI can be a boy or a girl, and his or her internal monologue goes something like this:

Guy: I can't believe they have me answering phones. Don't they know who my
father is? I have two years of higher education for godsake, I should be running
campaigns right now. Fuckin' morons. Do they not see my red power tie?? I'm gonna own this place as soon as I graduate. Damn, that girl from SMU is hot. I'm so gonna nail her after happy hour at Cap Lounge.

Girl: I can't believe they have me doing data entry. Don't they know who my
daddy is? I have two years of higher education, I should have my own interns to
boss around. And my shoes cost more than my boss will make this month, which
means I am so much better than her. Wow, that nice man from Appropriations who
looks like Uncle Marvin sure is friendly. Maybe I can work that... just have to remember not to use his real initials when I blog about it.

More Annoying: Interns

Congratulations, Interns! You have proven yourselves worthy to inherit the Mantle of Obnoxiousness from the cicadas. Just remember to add this to the list of things you will embellish and brag about when you go back to school this fall. In the meanwhile, keep your nose clean, don't fuck your boss and enjoy your stay in our-- not your-- city.


joefabitz said...

A total rip off from The Sports Guy's "Dr. Jack" style comparisons, but very funny nonetheless. However, I must say I find the tourists wardrobe more tolerable than the interns, at least their wardrobe reflects an innocence that has no part within the Beltway... even if that innocence is partially purchased at WalMart and from Koreans hawking "FBI" hats on the side of the D.C. street.

ejtakeslife said...

Yeah, I know... is it bad that after four years of college, Bill Simmons is probably the strongest influence on my writing?