Have you ever seen a car with wipers and wing mirrors scotch taped and thought, “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy”? Let me be clear, said car didn’t suffer some mishap; someone was trying to make a point, in a rather humorous way.
I’m no advocate of vandalism, but this is what end of summer here will do to a person. In fact, I was so taken with that original non-destructive kind of punishment, that I immediately snapped a pic which I will gladly present if I happen by when someone else contemplates perpetrating a similar kind of offense.
I start my summers full of joie de vivre, optimism and insane thoughts of “It’ll be different this year”. True enough, that insane thought has become reality over the past few years, it has been different… worse and worse different. I happen to live in a town by the sea, and most of the time I love it, I wouldn’t live anywhere else. As it happens, it’s not a resort, it’s not a small town either, but one of the largest in the country, so life for us locals goes on busily and constantly, with or without summertime tourists, or rather in spite of them, just like it happens everywhere else. I’ll be the first to admit that living in what becomes a sought-after touristic destination every summer has its perks and I enjoy them thoroughly, but come the end of summer, all I can wish for is for all the “invaders” to pack their bags, crawl back to whatever holes the came out of and leave us alone, so we can go on with our lives.
I won’t get into the fact that in so many cases we, as a species, tend to revert to animals when we’re in vacation; I won’t even rant about the fact that for some reason, “they” find it acceptable and desirable to prance around town in their bathing suits, even when there’s no beach in sight. I think I’ll just stick to one of my favourite pet peeves this time. You see, I live in this usually quiet neighbourhood, not the best and not the worst one, some 10-15 minutes away from the beach. I have the sea close by, a nice park even closer, green areas around the buildings, quirky neighbours of all ages and from all walks of life, so what more could I ask for, you might wonder… Well, there might be a thing or two…
Sure, a good part of us actually inhabit the flats we own. Then there’s the other part… Coming to the seaside and renting an apartment as close to the beach as possible has always been a thing, but it’s becoming more and more popular these days; and while there are areas particularly designed for vacation flats, there’s a somewhat dark, disturbing vicious circle that has taken hold of most of the town. In a sort of accommodation black market, tourists rent any place they can afford and owners will gladly expand their income without anyone paying any taxes. Everybody knows it, it’s done openly, yet everybody turns a blind eye to it as well; meanwhile those who try to go on with their everyday lives are suffocated by the unwelcomed “guests”.
It wouldn’t be so bad, I imagine, if certain people on vacation didn’t simply forget everything they’ve learnt about civilization. It’s no longer a surprise when we find garbage bags in the garden. After all, it’s so much easier to throw them out the window then move your behind all the way to the bins outside; you’ll be leaving in a few days anyway, so who gives a damn… And that big space outside the window, that’s surely just a giant ashtray, just like the beach… One of my fun summer pastimes is gathering cigarette butts and empty packs from my flower pots, and I’m so grateful my temporary “neighbours” are considerate enough to provide me with something to do every day. What would I do with myself otherwise?
I no longer need to go the gym either, I get to exercise when I stand for minutes holding heavy grocery bags while 8 to 12 invaders are blocking the entrance. Somehow diapers can only be changed in the doorway; that’s also the best place for packing and unpacking your beach back, searching for that long lost thought, updating your Facebook status, taking selfies and arguing with your friends/family. That’s all right, I’ll wait, I’ve got nowhere else to be, and by now the heavy bags have dug so deeply into my palms and fingers, cutting off my circulation, that I can’t feel my hands anyway.
They’re very social, these invaders of ours. In fact, they enjoy and need human connection so badly, that they only travel in large groups. They’ll fill a car or two with as many people as possible and head to the seaside. Somehow they will find this particular place and decide it’s the ideal one for them to take residence in for a few days, or maybe even a week or two. One of this building’s little quirks is that it only has small flats, the kind just right for one or two inhabitants. Yet when rented over the summer they turn into those clown cars and you’ll see a minimum of 6 persons coming out of them. On more than one occasion I’ve seen 10 or even 12 people living in such a place and it’s an interior design wonder, because much as I try, I cannot figure out how they all manage to fit in there. But if you think this is as bad as it gets, think again… the sh** is inevitably going to hit the fan (or in this case flood the basement) every end of summer, because the building plumbing is also not made to handle that many occupants. But it’s only good manners to clean up after the guests, you can’t very well ask them to do it…
Much like the plumbing, the narrow streets snaking between buildings are not designed for this sort of madness either… which brings us back to the scotch tape situation. Like many of my neighbours, I have a parking space, for which I actually pay a yearly fee and taxes. But that’s no guarantee that I will have where to park my car when I come home… After all, there may be these metal poles and signs on each reserved space, indicating that parking is not allowed, but that’s not to say you can’s simply ignore them and abandon your car there, between them, for several days. Short of using barbed wire, there’s no way to stop them; sure you can call the police, but let’s be honest, they’re already overwhelmed by more important issues. So that’s how one can end up driving around for over an hour, desperately looking around for a parking space that’s not more than a bus stop away. What can I say, they’re thoughtful that way, how else would you get your 10000 steps done every day… As for leaving their cars where they shouldn’t even if not on someone’s reserved space… well, that just happens. Plus, we’re also so very spoilt and picky, wanting to leave enough room for an ambulance or a fire truck or even the garbage truck to pass. Besides, gates and building entrances don’t necessarily need to be clear, just make an effort and squeeze between the wall/fence/bushes and the parked car. Really now, if that’s not complaining just for the sake of complaining, I don’t know what is.
So I see the car with its taped mirrors and wipers and I want to congratulate the witty worker who did that. The poor guys have been struggling for days and days, putting up all sorts of signs to deter people from blocking that gate, because they’re renovating the school behind that fence and they need access to it. But nothing seems to work. Unlike others in the neighbourhood, who really lose it and no longer can handle their destructive impulses, these guys found an original way to send a message – and they didn’t even use that kind of very sticky tape, which I think was rather generous of them.
Come the end of summer, I take it upon myself to try and educate at least a few of the visitors. For instance, when they mistakenly ring my intercom, expecting to be buzzed in for no good reason – which they do at least once a day – I no longer ignore them. Instead I let them in the building, wait for them outside my door and give them a lecture about how the damn contraption should be used. Are you living with me, are you my guests by any chance? Well, if that’s not the case, why are you ringing my number at 2 o’clock in the morning? And how would you like it if someone did that all summer long at their place? I bet you’d welcome them with open arms… And I go on for minutes, while they’re staring at the floor, pinned by the surprise outrage attack. Let me tell you, I’ve learnt how to shame people from the best of them… well, at least people who at some point have understood and assimilated the concept of shame.
I will also have something to say about those who expect me to hold the door open for all 12 of them to enter the building. I won’t take kindly to those who come to the seaside to argue with their girlfriends and kick them out, so they end up crying by the door. And don’t push me, the end of summer is not the right time to take my parking space – I may not be one for vandalism, but I will relentlessly call the police until they do come over to fine you and hopefully tow your car as well – if there’s room for the tow truck on the street.
Come end of August, gone is the nice, understanding me. I’ve had enough. Buh humbug! What, have I made your stay less pleasant? Good, punish me and don’t come back next year! Or here’s a thought – go to a hotel!
Of course, just like a reformed Scrooge, I will keep an open mind early summer, next year. Then another end of season will bring out my cynical jaded side. And so goes the vicious circle…