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Davis Journal

Following the rules – all 13 pages

Feb 08, 2024 02:39PM ● By Louise R. Shaw

It was clear they’d seen it all.

For 13 pages, they told us what to do and what not to do, leaving no doubt that those who’d done it or not done it before had really annoyed them.

Don’t come late. Don’t ask anyone but us about the weather. Don’t park behind the pizza shop. Don’t carry a bag. Don’t walk too slowly. Don’t expect to find a bathroom at the destination. Don’t think that we’re going to have a car seat for your child. Don’t bring a tripod. Don’t bring a selfie-stick.

Some rules over the 13 pages were in caps. Some in bold. Some in large fonts.

It wasn’t so much that they wanted to help us as it was that they didn’t want us to irritate them.

We showed up anyway. It was a place we wanted to see and besides, I was just a little bit curious about what kind of people wrote a 13-page treatise scolding potential clients for something someone else (or maybe everyone else) had done.

I had seen things from their angle before. During my summers in college, I worked in national parks, where it was certainly true that every tourist asked the same questions and as often as not, made the same mistakes.

I’ve also been the annoying visitor who is so lost and confused that I’ve just done the very thing that the hosts knew I was going to do – that was wrong.

So I could understand. But still …

There’s providing guidance and then there’s airing grievances. 

And their grievances made us feel we were guilty before we even showed up.

Just as expected, as we headed out on the tour, we were rushed, prodded, reprimanded and treated like we were more than a bit ignorant.

“This is so stressful,” said one in our group. 

Yet all would agree it was worth it.

Sometimes you’ve just got to play the game. We parked in the right place, we didn’t take the wrong equipment, we didn’t walk too slowly.

And we smiled the whole time.

So their 13 pages worked.

Maybe we should all write 13 pages when we’re hosting, starting with: Don’t think we’ll have dinner ready if we don’t know what time you’re arriving.

Or maybe it would have been nice to get 13 pages of instruction/warning when we got married, starting with: Don’t think you’ll always get to choose which movie to watch because two different people are going to like two different kinds of movies.

Or maybe it would have been nice to get 13 pages when we started out in life, beginning with: Don’t think you can get everything you want as soon as you want it. And moving to: Don’t think so much about the things you want that you forget about what other people need. In caps. And bold.

Or maybe it’s just as good to bungle along and figure things out as we go. Yes, everyone has done their own bungling along, and maybe their bungling is kind of the same as your bungling, but maybe what you learn from doing your very own bungling is what you always needed to know and finding it out for yourself means it’s yours. 

Guidance is good. I’ll take guidance any way I can get it, though I usually prefer it as it usually comes: with a bit of patience and maybe even a touch of humor.

And therein comes the solution no matter what side of the equation you’re on: patience and humor. 

And then just smile the whole time. It will be worth it.

Louise R. Shaw is a writer and photographer whose work was featured at the Lamplight Gallery. She is an avid traveler and currently lives with her husband in St. George.