When encountering rude, staring people, my mother used to mutter, “Take a picture, it’ll last longer!” I think I’m having the opposite problem. I’ve begun to notice strangers taking my picture…perhaps because it’ll last longer.
Now, maybe this is one of the hazards of living in a well-known tourist town. People flock here to take
carriage tours of historic homes and gardens, to see Spanish moss hanging from gnarled live oaks, and to dine on shrimp and grits. During the spring and summer tourist season, as I stand at my bus stop on one of downtown’s main drags after work, I am often approached by tourists. “Does this bus go to the visitor’s center?” (yes). “Which way to the battery?” (that way). My personal favorite is to watch them photographing the building immediately across the street from my bus stop. It’s a cool looking building, I’ll give them that, but as far as I know, and according to the walking tour book we bought for entertaining out of town guests, it has no real historical significance. More than once, eager be-fanny-packed tourists toting large cameras have stopped to ask me, “What is THAT building? Was it a school?” I usually smile and say, “Well ma’am, I’ve only lived here a couple years, and I don’t know. Right now it’s just an apartment building.” I mean, I don’t want to let people down on the Southern Hospitality portion of their experience, but, WHAT DO I LOOK LIKE, A TOUR GUIDE? I’M JUST STANDING HERE, PROBABLY HOT, AND IRRITATED THAT THE EFFING BUS IS LATE FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME.
And then, one day, as I was boarding my bus, one of the be-fanny-packed socks-with-sandals tourists snapped my picture. AIN’T NUTHIN’ SCENIC BOUT MY SKINNY ASS GETTING ON A CITY BUS. MOVE ALONG. I have no idea what they’ll say about THAT photo when showing folks their photos from their lovely vacation down South. I mean, I didn’t even tell them that I’m a real live curtsey-ing debutante or anything, so as far as they know I’m just some random girl who rides the bus.
I just basically assumed that the bus-stop photographer was an anomaly until I was on my lunch break, shuffling my lil flip flops down one of the main shopping drags immediately adjacent to my work, having made a quick run to The Body Shop for my favorite hair product (Cottonseed Curl Boost– thanks to it, I no longer blow dry). I was passing the Louis Vuitton store and trying not to covet when a man leaned out of his carriage tour and snapped my picture again! I think I scowled at him. Now, I’ve been on plenty of vacations in my life, and Lord knows, anyone who’s seen the number of photos I took in England alone knows I like to document my experiences. But never have I ever snapped random photos of people on the street. What is WITH that? I feel sorta like my privacy has been invaded. Who were those people who thought getting your picture taken stole a little piece of your soul? I feel them.
Late breaking update: as I stood at the bus stop after work today, waiting for a 10-minutes-late bus, some guy hanging out the window of his car took my picture. Pretty sure he wasn’t a tourist, just a creep. Such weird things always happen to me, usually involving my time on the bus.