When it’s all too obvious you’re a tourist
We’ve all seen that person wearing a green leprechaun hat in the middle of July, who orders half a pint of Guinness and then pays a 20% tip. This, in my own parlance, is Glaringly Obviously A Tourist, or more simply; GOAT. Now, if there’s David, there’s Goliath and so, just as there are GOATs, the corresponding antonym must too exist; SPI, someone who is Seemingly Plausibly Integrated. Of course, depending on where you are, it may or may not be advantageous to be GOAT or SPI. This will all depend upon the associated probability of getting directions, overcharged, stabbed, etc. in that particular region. In many instances, unfortunately, you may be GOAT, SPI or both within the same country and find that this is largely outside of your control. However, there are some little tips and tricks that can slightly improve your control of the situation. Please choose below your appropriate stereotype or combination of the two.
International best practice if GOAT:
Speak a foreign language – Speaking a different or non-existent language is the fast track to being GOAT. In fact, by speaking a sufficient amount of gobbledegook, you can even be GOAT at home. Some people take this piece of advice to the extreme and begin to hum or make strange noises. This doesn’t work. People think you are weird.
Become GOAT family – If there were no kids, there’d be no GOATs. Having kids that pester you for helium balloons, touristy gimmicks that fly, popcorn and/or ice-cream is invaluable when it comes to securing your GOAT status. Importantly, whatever you give your kids must be something that no regional SPI could plausible give to theirs. For example, feeding your kids milk with their dinner in France will earn bonus GOAT points. In Ireland you should avoid this at all costs, unless you’d like your kids to be SPIs.
Wear unconventional clothes – Ski-goggles in Ireland, a sombrero in Iraq or a woolly jumper in Greece are all prime examples of GOAT-attire. Remember that you can always augment any costume with map, a camera and a general look of confusion.
Hang around museums – If your goal is to be extremely GOAT, this is the place to hang out... preferably with one or more suitcases. Churches or any buildings more than 20 years old are also suitable alternatives.
International best practice if SPI:
Employ brevity – If your local lingo isn’t up do scratch, avoid at all costs using phrases with more than one word. Learn to pronounce one key word immaculately, such as “good”, and learn to say it with the most condescending and imposing tone possible. A single syllable is rarely enough to reveal you’re GOAT. Note: this is not the moment to pull out the phrase “Don’t shoot, I’m a pencil. (see previous blog)”
Grow a beard – Clearly this SPI strategy has its gender limitations. However, if your identity is uncovered, you can always shave it off and get a second chance. Don’t do anything too style specific, i.e. none of that handlebar, crossbar or crowbar kind of thing. Every society has got the odd person with a thick beard that implies “This guy could really be from anywhere!” Your beard should play on that confusion.
Go shopping for school uniforms – No GOAT would ever go shopping for a school uniform, especially a uniform with an embroidered crest of a local school. Please exercise some restraint when using this tip, i.e. don’t shop for uniforms on a weekly basis. Also, this advice doesn’t work in countries that don’t require school uniforms.
Give directions – If you’re the kind of tourist that always asks for directions but have recently had SPI ambitions, it’s time to stall the ball, reverse the hearse and begin to give directions to other people. Caveat: Don’t give directions to people if they don’t ask... this just doesn’t work. Bonus insight: You’re not required to give accurate directions, although they must remain somewhat plausible.
This is a rather simplified analysis and does have its limitations. For example, if it is your desire to be SPI-GOAT, i.e. you want to pretend that you are pretending to be GOAT... but we won't get into that just yet...