The easiest thing we do by the end of August is to begin to resent some of our summer visitors. Looking at them from our native perspective, it’s clear that they aren’t too sure where they’re going, not too urgent to get there, and may in fact be coming home from a brain bake at the beach with the brain in the off position. Yes, they’re the ones whom you might easily feel trapped behind, as they meander down the road at 15 miles per hour under the speed limit, when your schedule is telling you that you (and they) should be stepping on the loud pedal to pick up the pace. You remember that desire to use your neutron side arm to move the slow poke in front of you to another dimension, so you can get moving and get where you need to go.
Well before you slap the “If they call it tourist season, why can’t I shoot them” bumper sticker on your F150, stop to remember, you too have driven someone crazy as a tourist. It may have been Mexico, Asia, Europe, or even another part of the United States. There you were, more than likely, poorly or inappropriately dressed, asking the local equivalent of “Can you tell me how to find the Kennedy Compound?” and you were the 10th person that week to ask the poor local that same question! Please tell me you haven’t stopped in a travel lane somewhere with your map spread out on the steering wheel, or that you are not one of those drivers who makes up their own right of way etiquette while entering a traffic rotary in the midst of an argument with your GPS. I’m sure that you have never worn mid-calf black socks with boat shoes or (gasp!) sandals while on vacation.
Some years ago, I once saved the life of a poor family from New Jersey. I was driving a lumber truck on a Saturday morning, and the dad was at the wheel of the family grocery getter with a full crew aboard. I was in the traffic pattern inside the Airport Rotary in Hyannis and Captain Minivan executed a bold entry move that he must have seen work at the prior year’s Daytona 500. Thanks to my anticipation and deft maneuvering, his entry succeeded, he took the very spot originally intended for my 35,000 pound Kenworth and certain fiery disaster was averted. I hoped he appreciated my lifesaving technique. Some 10 minutes later, back in the office, I got a call. The caller wished to report a dangerous driver. As I took the plate number, I realized he was calling about me. Rather than launch into an investigation as to whether he knew what a rotary was, or had ever actually experienced one before, or whether he might know the traffic rules governing rotary rights of way, I listened. He said his piece. I explained that I knew the driver quite well, that he had been with us a long time, and that I would take the matter up with this driver. I think if I had explained what I had seen from my vantage point he wouldn’t have heard a word. After all, he was on vacation. I thanked him for calling. He said he appreciated my listening, and I wished him a nice rest of the week. I did not encounter him again during the rest of his stay, but I must say I was just that much more ready for him or for anyone else who attended his driving school. By the way, when I asked my wife, who is from New Jersey, what the rotary rules are in New Jersey, she told me they really don’t have rotaries there!
My takeaways...1) No, I am not on his vacation, but I have to be thankful people come here to the Cape and Islands to spend their time off and their free cash to support our economy. 2) I am the professional driver and it’s up to me to be good enough for both of us. 3) the reason they call us strangers is because that’s how we all act on vacation. Instead of resenting our visitors, let’s roll out the welcome mat to make them want to come back!