My name is Doug Luciani — and I am a tourist
It's that time of year when the locals begin to stir, resenting those interlopers that cause them to be a little late for their tee time, miss prime time for dinner seating, sit a few rows farther back at a concert, or share that "Kodak moment" when the sun nestles into Lake Michigan.
Those of us that live here don't want to hear a ruckus from the rental cottage down the way when we're trying to fish or cruise the lake on our pontoon boat. After all, we paid our dues during winter when we shared our ski and snowmobile trails with out-of-towners who don't really get northern Michigan.
As I shop downtown, I will share a knowing nod with the store clerk as someone naively asks if they can use the restroom. Of course not — anyone from here knows that. Actually though, I could often stand to use the facilities myself, but I just wait until I get home or back to work.
Sometimes I sit in my office looking out over Clinch Park Beach and wonder, "Don't these people work?" If they did, they would be like me and hit the beach at a more respectable 5:30 or 6. Strolling through Cherry Festival greeting my friends and neighbors, I again wondered where all those people came from.
It could get to where northern Michigan is like the Yogi Berra-ism where, "Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded."
The most disappointing part of people coming Up North for their vacations is that I specifically plan my summers to stay in Traverse City. It's so beautiful across the whole tip of the mitten, why would anyone leave then?
The truth is: I'm living a double life. Yes, it's true. I'm a "local," but I'm also a (gulp) "tourist." Sometimes it's me driving slower than the speed limit because the vistas overlooking fruit orchards and Grand Traverse Bay are so breathtaking.
I occasionally "drive like a maniac" downtown, too, even though I know the right lane is supposed to go straight and the left lane is supposed to turn left, except where the left lane goes straight and the right lane turns right.
I don't think I'm the only one, though. Where else do people buy a summer cottage in the same town where they already live? How is it that when I'm at tourist attractions, special events, and festivals, I see so many people I know?
We live where people want to be. Thank goodness we do. That's how we find talented workers willing to move and live here, and to invest here. It's how we can sustain high-caliber arts and entertainment, as well as world-class medical care. It keeps real estate moving and money flowing throughout the entire economy.
In the epicenter of Pure Michigan, it's OK to be a tourist — whether one lives here, would like to live here, or is just passing through. It's all good.
Doug Luciani is president and CEO of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.