Let me complain about the tourists

If you’re riding the Washington Metro subway, stand on the right side of the escalator and walk on the right left. Yes, we know you don’t have subways from wherever you’re from, but surely common sense and good manners aren’t dead in the Outer Provinces. When your herd stands two abreast on the escalators, you slow down the system for everyone behind you and you will be asked curtly to move your persons. Probably by me.

Oh, and the FBI and CIA t-shirts you buy make you look stupid.

I can’t help complaining. I’ve just watched the Helsinki Complaint Choir: a brilliant piece of public performance. Such choirs are spreading across the gloomy, cold Northern reaches, but the Finns started the phenomenon.

Oh, locals: don’t eat in the subway. It’s against the law or doesn’t that apply to you?

Hat tip: Philocrites

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I’m telling you, that video made me so nostalgic for my summer in Finland!

    Perhaps we could write the libretto for a Metro Oratorio, with an especially dramatic aria about tourists on the escalator.

  2. I can’t see the video (I’m at work) but let me tell you that stand/walk distinction is lost on many, many people. My guess is that these tourists are from the Midwest (where I now happily reside) because no one here–absolutely no one–thinks escalators are for walking on. No, they’re just funny little elevators that you stand on. This is the case in malls, for example.

    Thankfully our MetroLink system is sufficiently barebones that there aren’t any escalators (turnstyles, either, but that’s a whole other story). Come to think of it, if they’re used to *walking* up/down their stairs to get onto public transit, then why is that such a foreign concept when faced with an escalator? Who knows…

  3. I share your pain. I live in Philly, where there are definitely subways, and even many locals opt to stand on the left. I’d like to think the walk-left-stand-right system works well somewhere. Maybe New York?

  4. This post made my day–both in terms of complaints about DC tourists, and the phenomenon of Valituskuoro, which was unknown to me.

    I already have my contribution for a Complaints choir: “I know a lot but none of it really matters” !!

  5. Not a tourist complaint, but yesterday — during the evening commute — a kid stopped on the top step of a two-person-wide Park Street Station subway staircase and began to retie his shoes. People getting off the Red Line streamed up the staircase to his right; others were stopped in their tracks behind him; and all of us who wanted to go downstairs to catch that train had to stand there until his dad finally shoved him forward and out of the way. I’ve never seen that before.

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