We’re all tour guides

Published 10:06 pm Monday, September 18, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Dallas with my father and sister.

We packed light — only one bag apiece — and used Uber and Lyft to get around the city for three days.

It was the trip of a lifetime, and one I’ll never forget.

Any time I go to a new city, I want to avoid all of the touristy locations as much as possible. I take advantage of every opportunity I have to talk to locals, whether I’m paying for gasoline at a convenience store or standing in line at a fast food restaurant picking up lunch. I always ask the same questions: “If you had an entire weekend here to do anything you wanted, what would you do?

What is the one thing you’d say someone that had never been here before should see?”

In Dallas, I asked 30 people or more these exact same questions. Many of them had no suggestion, taking several minutes to answer and not really giving much of an answer at all. Others did actually have a response, whether it was a local restaurant, a place to go look around or something unique about the metroplex.

Honestly, every time someone I asked shrugged their shoulders and didn’t have a suggestion, it was like air going out of a balloon. In that second, I was a bit disappointed. Here I was, looking at a gigantic city, and they couldn’t name one thing they’d do?

That got me thinking.

The majority of people reading this aren’t professional tour guides, but essentially we’re all experts on the town where we live. When people visit, they like to talk to locals to find out what the best restaurant in town is or to figure out what to do for fun.

I know I’ve been asked countless times in my life for directions or recommendations on a good place to eat. It’s usually an unexpected question from a person driving by, but my goal is to do a better job at answering in the future.

I hope to quickly point toward downtown LaGrange, Pine Mountain, Hogansville, West Point or the lake and name things left and right. There’s a lot to do in our city, and it’s important we let visitors know that too.

If a visitor asks us for a suggestion, and we give them nothing, they might drive to the next city down I-85.

You could be the only person they even talk to while in LaGrange or Troup County and they could judge their entire day on that one response.

It’s not something we think of a lot, but it’s really a big responsibility. The good news is, there’s really no pressure. There’s plenty to do in LaGrange, so the next time a visitor asks, tell them about it.