Montana Jones

Montana n: A state of the northwest United States bordering on Canada. Admitted as the 41st state in 1889. The fourth largest state in the union, it includes vast prairies and numerous majestic mountain ranges.
Syn: Treasure State, Big Sky Country, Last Best Place.

Jones n: slang. An addiction or very deep craving.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

What do most people do?

Do most people spend one night or two?
Another caller:
Which airport do most people arrive at?
Yet another caller:
Where do most people go?
Still another caller:
Do most people stay at the same hotel and then backtrack a lot? What do most people do?

I hate that question.

I sit on a tourism related 800 number all day. The John Does of the world somehow find my number and call it. What I do usually has no relation to what they want, but hey, it's a free call. I am not qualified to be their vacation planner but I do my best. I try to be friendly. Being a good ambassador of Montana can only help my own business in the long run. But I hate that question. It comes up a lot.

Listen up dear tourist, most Montana vacationers have different travel plans than you do. They come from different places, they visit for different reasons and they stay for different lengths of time. What do most people do? They do things a little bit differently than you should do it. They have more time or money or ambition. They probably do things that would not fit your idea of what a good time is. I think you should make a plan that fits your interests, itinerary and budget. Don't try to follow the herd. You are an individual, start acting like it.

Okay Jones, don't be mean.

I know what they are really asking. They are unfamiliar with the local lay of the land and they need a recommendation. Should they fly into Missoula or Great Falls? Can they see everything they want to see from a central location or should they reserve multiple hotels? What are some nice attractions to check out? What is the best way to get from A to B? These are all fair questions for people unfamiliar but wanting to vacation here. I do my best to help them. But sheesh, why do they have to ask about "most people"?

The very phrasing of the question speaks a lot about them. Look at the difference between:

  • "What is a good way to get from A to B?"
  • "How do most people get from A to B?"

The first shows decisiveness. It says, "I want to be at B. I need some direction for getting there." The second says, "I don't like thinking for myself. Doing what everyone else is doing is safe. Please herd me along like a sheep."

I guess in the end it does not matter if I am serving men or sheep. Pays the same either way. I just don't like knowing how many sheep people there are in the world.