Dear Salem visitors:
Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve come to explore our beautiful city. I rely on your dollars for my living and I am genuinely glad that you are here – I’m proud of Salem and all she has to offer locals and visitors alike. I hope you have a wonderful stay.
So, here is the thing: It’s gonna get really crowded during the month of October and we are all going to need to work together to make this humanity cluster work smoothly.
I promise to be patient with those of you who are lost and moving slower than I prefer – I’ll even give you directions and recommendations if you ask. I will be sympathetic to your desperate need for the following: a place to sit, a way to charge your phone and a clean bathroom. I’ve traveled, I get it.
When driving I will obey all laws and keep in mind that I am driving a scary hunk of metal that could really put a hurting on someone. I will be responsible and courteous (and gracious when I can).
Here is where you, Dear Visitor, could really help us locals out. Please, for the love of Pete – don’t park in resident parking. Parking lots are great, the garages too, the ferry lot is especially lovely, but resident parking around here is pretty scarce already and most of us are tired at the end of a long day of showing y’all a good time; no one wants to park a mile from home at the end of a 12-hour shift.
Oh, and I promise to tell you when you don’t need to feed the parking meters, like at night and on Sundays.
While you are walking the streets of our fine city, please take the time to be aware of yourself and your surroundings. I cannot even tell you how many times someone has stepped backward onto a traffic-filled street to take a photo – directly in front of my moving car (aforementioned hunk of metal). That kind of mischief is scary for everyone. Also, if you simply watch where you are walking you are less likely to be a victim of our charming brick and cobblestone sidewalks.
As a vigilant driver, I am always watching the crosswalks and intersections for pedestrians. If you make yourself known I will always stop for you – with two exceptions;
— I will not stop for you if you are at a properly lit intersection and your light clearly says don’t walk. I don’t run red lights and so I will not encourage you to do the pedestrian equivalent.
And if you press the button to cross — please, in the name of everything you hold sacred, wait for the darn light. If you press it and then just jaywalk anyway, we are all left waiting for your more courteous ghost to cross the street. There are few things that infuriate me more than that particular kind of selfishness.
— I will not stop for you if you are jaywalking. I will politely point out the nearest crosswalk. I don’t drive on the sidewalks, so please don’t walk in the street. Fair?
I beg of you to never pop out fast from between parked cars. Pedestrians might have the right of way, in theory, but in practice cars need time to stop. Don’t cede your personal responsibility to my anti-lock brakes; you may lose, even with my cat-like reflexes.
I know you are just one person or one family, but collectively the huge amount of visitors who are in “vacation mode” and not really thinking before they spontaneously and/or randomly cross the street eventually grinds down the patience and grace of residents. It also causes all kinds of traffic back-ups and snarls, ratcheting up our collective stress. If we all drive, park and walk where and how we should, mindful of everyone around us, things will go more smoothly and everyone can have a mellow good time.
So — welcome to Salem! Please be nice, and more than a tiny bit smart. I promise to do the same.
Diane Wolf is owner of The Lobster Shanty in Salem.