Opinion » Maxed Out

Maxed Out

Build a better tourist trap and the world…

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I have come to terms, yes, even embraced living in a tourist town. I enjoy living where people come to play and after almost a decade still take some private satisfaction in a stranger’s exclamation of "Lucky you" when I tell them I live here after finding out they suffer through life in Mobile, Alabama.

I do not, however, in any way consider myself a tourist attraction. In fact, I’m not at all sure I’d feel as comfortable living in other tourist towns where there is a less clear demarcation between locals and outlanders. At least in Whistler we’ve built the vacationing hordes a cute little town. True, we failed to take the Resort Municipality concept to its next logical step and fence them in once they’re here – except on New Year’s Eve – but what the heck, we’re still a young town. Maybe someday. A boy has to have something to look forward to.

When I am in the village, I go out of my way to be helpful to tourists. Sometimes it’s my job to be nice, mostly though I’m just that kind of guy. Helpful. Friendly. Courteous. A regular Boy Scout. Unless they’re driving, in which case I often find myself challenging my long-held stand against capital punishment and missing my American-born right to bear arms.

Strangers ask me directions; I tell them where to go. They ask questions on the gondola, I answer patiently, point out landmarks of interest. I always boost the local taxi business by telling them to be sure and take a ride out to Emerald to see the Igloo Village where, working hand in hand with our Eskimo elders, hundreds of Whistlerites volunteer each winter to build temporary shelter for the underhoused, fresh-faced seekers who come out to serve them lattès each season. They marvel at our ingenuity, using as we do naturally occurring building materials and having a whole village recycle itself once the weather turns warm and we no longer need this year’s crop of worker bees.

But I am uncomfortable – and if I really gave it much thought, probably appalled – at Glacier Coach Lines’ plans to turn me into a tourist attraction. They’re going to run a neo-retro rubber-tired trolley this summer for tourists who haven’t bought into the whole X-Treme lifestyle and prefer to see the world roll past their windows. This sightseeing venture will take people to, well, the sights: Lost Lake where they can titter at the knowledge they are only this far – thumb and finger held close together – from nekkid, heathen sun-worshipers; Nick North where they can marvel at rich folks living cheek to jowl; Base II where bears have squirt-gun fights with abandoned snowmaking equipment. Whatever.

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