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Planning a Trip to The Cape This Summer? Here’s What You Need to Know, From a Local

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Cape Cod is without a doubt one of the most popular vacation destinations for Massachusetts residents in the summer. Being born and raised on the Cape, I think I have a good grasp of the dos and don’ts for vacationing here. 

As a disclaimer, I am incredibly grateful to have grown up in my small town of Truro, the second-to-last town before reaching the end of the peninsula with only a few hundred residents in the off-season. Tourism keeps us afloat and allows us to stay here; we couldn’t sustain our lives without it. However, I think I do have the right to express my complaints and concerns about tourism on the Cape.

I’ve worked a multitude of different jobs. I’ve worked at a penny candy store, as a barista at a smoothie shop, on my dad’s lobster boat as a deckhand, as a hostess, and as a waitress. I deal with tourists every single day. We want and need tourism, and we greatly appreciate those who come here to spend money — but there are definitely right and wrong ways to go about it.

Anyone who has worked in the foodservice industry has had a bad customer experience, as we took the brunt of many during the pandemic and were consistently blamed and yelled at for things outside of our control. This hasn’t ended, though; even when things were returning to normalcy over this past summer, the general rudeness persisted. 

The Cape had a slight population increase during the pandemic when everyone was buying homes here. General tourism increased as well and more visitors equals busier public places. Anywhere you go on the Cape in the summer is going to be busy. Most places will have a wait to sit, most places are short-staffed, and most places are falling apart at the seams due to this increase in business. Be patient and kind, or we have no room for you here. We shouldn’t be feeling the need to put stickers and signs all over the place saying “Be Kind.” We respect you and serve you, so why isn’t that always reciprocated? 

I’ve dealt with quite a few instances where customers have made wrong (and sometimes downright rude) assumptions about my coworkers and me. I wish I could say I was joking when I say that someone asked me if we even went to school out here. I was 16 at the time. I was 17 when someone told me “don’t be a counter helper your whole life, go to college” and then proceeded to tip me a $10 bill. I had a table this summer who said that everywhere is understaffed because my generation “doesn’t want to work.” I had to tell them that every single one of my friends and kids my age work multiple jobs, and it’s actually the housing crisis. My coworkers from Russia and Jamaica consistently get tipped less than myself and my other white American coworkers. 

We want and need tourists to come here. All we ask is that you treat your servers and the locals with kindness and respect. In recent years, we have not experienced that. This is a real place with real people living real lives — it’s not just a playground for the rich and summer visitors. It’s an amazing place and I wish for everyone to enjoy it. We are all overtired. We are all anxious. We are all just trying to enjoy our summers, so let’s coexist. 

Lastly, sharks are more afraid of you than you are of them!

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Caroline Townsend

U Mass Amherst '23

Caroline is a junior at UMass Amherst studying Education, specifically Community Education and Social Change. She is from Truro, Cape Cod Massachusetts and a true beach bum. She lives for beach days, homemade ice cream, and her three dogs!