“Are You Really Going to Be Standing There The Whole Time?!?”
Tongariki is the site of the famous 15 moai statues on Easter Island. This area is opened prior to dawn for anyone who wants to photograph these enormous stone monoliths during when the sun rises. Because this site is so popular, expecting people to stay out of your photograph is unrealistic if you are incredibly fussy about your photography — and yet, simultaneously not difficult to do at all, as the site is rather spacious in terms of acreage.
Some people chose a spot to stay during the entire sunrise — perhaps to create a time-lapse video of the phenomenon. Some people wandered around the vast expanse of the area to get different angles of photographs of the 15 moai statues, as I did.
I was standing on a spot for a few minutes, taking various photographs; and I was about to move to a different spot. The photograph shown above had just been taken prior to me hearing the following question from a male voice, obviously thick with disdain:
“Are you really going to be standing there the whole time?!?”
I looked around and realized that the missive was apparently aimed at me from a portly middle-aged American man who reminded me very much of a character known as Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. He was lying on his side in the grass near a rock, with a mobile telephone mounted on a small tripod on the grass, his face grimaced with a look of annoyance.
I just stood there and coldly glared at him, stunned by his obnoxious attitude. I would have happily moved out of his way immediately had he not been so rude, disrespectful and condescending — and I apparently was not the only person, as other people turned and gave him the evil eye as well.
An awkward moment passed before he rethought what had just blurted out of his mouth unfiltered before he then said “You can sit if you want.”
One woman responded curtly, “Thank you for giving us permission to sit.”
He apparently annoyed some other fellow visitors to Tongariki as well after that incident, who responded similarly to his arrogance.
I had moved out of his way as a gesture of common courtesy despite the disrespect which he showed to me and to other fellow visitors — and none of us deserved it.
Easter Island has a lot of cows, horses and friendly stray dogs which wander around the island unencumbered. A friendly dog will usually approach a person who is kneeling or laying down, as if descending to his or her level is considered a welcome sign of interaction and perhaps play.
One dog approached the man — who was already lying down on the grass — and was trying to play with him. A collective gasp was then uttered by the crowd of people, who were shocked to witness that his response was to kick the poor dog.
A guy who was born in South Africa but currently lives in New Jersey approached me and started talking about this man, smiling as he mocked him. The man became the meme of the day by this guy and a number of people where every time someone wanted to do something, his permission must first be requested.
What I Do When I Am at a Place of Interest
This is a list of suggestions which I keep in mind when I happen to be at a point of interest:
Plan on what to do. When a place of interest is crowded and a photograph of it is not ideal at the time, I scope it out to not only enjoy it and appreciate it; but I also think about where I want to take my photographs — as well as when to take them, if applicable.
Be patient. What may not seem important to you or I can be rather important to other people. I have no problem with waiting for others to do what they need to do. In fact, I am often asked to take a photograph of others while I wait; and once I do, they are more than happy to step aside while I take my photographs.
Once done, leave. Leaving does not mean going away from the place of interest if you are not done with experiencing or admiring it. It could mean only stepping aside or going inside or outside to get out of the way of others — which is what I always do. I never stand in the way of others while using a mobile telephone or waiting for someone else.
Someone was standing right in the way prior to me taking the photograph shown above. He was simply asked very politely to please move for just a moment until I took my photographs; and he complied immediately with no issue whatsoever.
Politeness, respect and patience will usually be met with voluntary compliance to grant the wishes of a request — not being rude and condescending.
Common courtesy suggests allowing people to have the same — or, at least, similar — opportunity to enjoy a place of interest, as they too have likely traveled from afar to see it. That includes having a few minutes for the ability to capture the place of interest in a memorable photograph which could be passed on to future generations.
By the way, I am not averse to people in front of a place of interest in general. Sometimes people walking by in front of it or doing something interesting near it can actually add character to a photograph.
I find it difficult to conjure a viably important reason to loiter in front of a place of interest — especially for an extended period of time and while doing something as boring as tapping on a portable electronic device — and simultaneously deny other people…
…but usually, the “offender” is a person who is merely unaware that he or she is blocking others from enjoying a place of interest. I do not believe that the person is purposely trying to be discourteous.
Regardless, being unnecessarily rude and condescending is usually not the way to resolve an issue of someone who is loitering — or even standing in the way of a photograph for only a few minutes — and people generally do not take kindly to someone who treats others that way for his or her own selfish purposes.