When I was about 11 years old we took a family trip to Paris. My dad's family is Swiss, so we went to Switzerland almost every year, and we occasionally stopped at other places in Europe. I still remember the tiny medieval BnB where we stayed in Paris. It was just a house that rented out a few spare rooms. They made fresh baguettes every morning with homemade jams and local honey. I also remember the French waiters...

My dad took us to Montmartre, which was an artsy part of the city. We sat down to eat and we ordered tap water. I grew up taking trips to Europe, sure, but my family was frugal nonetheless. We NEVER ordered drinks at restaurants. No wine, no soda, only water. Tap water. So my dad ordered tap water for the table as always. The little French man who was our waiter then screamed at us, spat on the ground, snatched away our menus and stormed off.

My family of five got up from our table and shuffled over to the other outdoor touristy family restaurant like 20 feet down the street. We could literally still see the angry waiter. I think he had a mustache but I can't say for sure. I remember my parents half flustered, half chuckling. At the time I didn't really understand what had just happened. My French comprehension was pretty minimal. But the other day, 20 years later, I thought about this little French man, and I wondered about his hopes, his dreams, his losses, his anguish.

I live near the Brooklyn Bridge now, in the quiet, shabbier side of DUMBO, which is supposedly some kind of tech hub of Brooklyn, or so the real estate people would like us to believe. The neighborhood has a neat aesthetic and I really like living there. Good restaurants, a park by the water, a short bike ride away from a bunch of other awesome Brooklyn places. But the nicer, fancier side of DUMBO suffers from an urban scourge which puts even the oft-maligned housing projects to shame: Tourists.

Tourists suck. They wait on line for a bunch of the restaurants on their side of town, clogging up the streets and preventing me from eating there. They walk around cluelessly, causing pedestrian traffic accidents. They invariably come to NYC to shop, to buy a bunch of stupid shit that is already readily available in their own countries, given the global supply chain these days. I want them all to disappear. I want them to go home.

Why? I don't really know why. Little French waiter's very livelihood depended upon tourists but he hated them nonetheless. And maybe that's the point. Tourists are fungible. They don't typically provide repeat business. They leave and often never come back, especially the tourists going to New York or Paris. In market model terms, they don't exist. That means the businesses they support can skimp on quality and service, and still survive. Like a toll booth.

Nobody wants to live in a neighborhood where the available real estate becomes packed with toll booth businesses. And the Frenchie probably never wanted to be a toll booth operator. I wish I could go back and ask him why, but he probably died of lung cancer by now.