5.16.2021 – a day at the beach

a day at the beach
sun, sand, surf, salt, birds, crowds, fun
ugliness showed up

When I say that where I live is just this side of paradise and it has everything, it really does.

This side of paradise DOES have everything.

The good.

The bad.

And the ugly.

Yesterday was a great day for the beach.

I understand the May weekends are better as there are fewer ‘tourists’ before the season starts on Memorial Day and the humidity is less than it is in mid summer.

And it certainly was yesterday.

Clear blue sky.

A little breezy.

Great day for the beach.

By chance we set up right next to a Beach Patrol station.

These are the places on the beach with the red umbrella and someone in red swim shorts who is both a lifeguard and the agent for renting beach chairs and umbrellas.

Also by chance I had just finished creating a web page for my job on ‘Tips for the Beach’ that covered how you can rent beach chairs and umbrella’s right on the beach so I was familiar with their operation.

Just look for a Beach Patrol person in the red swimming gear.

These folks, I wrote, are set up to take cash, check or charge right on the beach.

The young man who was working the Beach Patrol station next to us seemed like a nice enough kid and a good ambassador for the beach and the island.

This is stressed in the hospitality industry of which I now find myself to be a part.

Be a good ambassador.

Represent the island.

And this kid was okay.

Approached by one beach goer about renting some chairs, the Beach Patrol kid quoted the all day price of $45 and then dropped it to $25 as it was ‘almost past noon’ and gave the guy the half day rate.

I caught his eye and he smiled and said under his breath, ‘hey, I work for tips.’

The beach goer offered to pay and the kid said not to worry.

‘Just take two chairs and I’ll come find you’, he said, ‘Right now I am taking lunch.’

And off he went happy and off the beach goer went, just as happy.

Little while later a Mom and her three small girls came up on the other side of us.

They were carrying a Beach Patrol umbrella that the Mom started to set up.

Trying but without a lot of luck as it was a little windy.

My wife pointed out to me that ‘that lady is having some problems with her umbrella.’

I walked over and asked if they needed any help and then started digging a really deep hole for the umbrella pole.

The Mom was very nice and her daughters were really funny.

While we worked on the umbrella, one little girl quickly buried her sisters croc’s in the sand.

While I dug the Mom told me that this was their first time at the beach.

They had just moved from the bay area.

The now lived in the small town nearby of Okatie.

She pronouncedit OHHHHH-ka-tee.

My wife said we knew where that was, but we called it oh-KA-tee.

I said I got in trouble when I said it was oh-KATIE.

Then, without warning, the umbrella disappeared.

It was gone.

Yanked out of the ground where it had been between me and the Mom.

I had been on all fours digging in the ground with my head down and I sat back and looked up.

It was Beach Patrol kid.

A very angry Beach Patrol kid .

He closed up the umbrella and snapped, “You can’t do this. We can lose our license.”

He took the umbrella and stalked off.

No words of warning.

No words at all.

No explanation.

Just one mad Beach Patrol kid.

And me and the Mom and her girls in the sand staring at each other.

The Mom looked at me and says quietly, ‘that was rude.’

She looked like she could cry.

I was at a loss for words.

I asked her had she rented the umbrella or made arrangements with the Beach Patrol.

She said no.

She said it was their first time at the beach.

She said she had money if she had to pay.

She was hurt and confused.

I was sorry and confused.

I apologized for the way things happened.

The Mom shook her head and said again, ‘that was rude.’

She went and talked to the Beach Patrol kid who explained how it all worked but he didn’t help her find any available chairs in our area.

Maybe there weren’t any.

The Mom called the Beach Patrol rental number and they set up with a location further down the beach.

We chatted for a second.

Chatted with the girls.

I did the magic pull my thumb off to make them laugh.

Then they walked off to find their chairs and umbrella.

But the moment stuck with me.

The Beach Patrol kid was still sitting about 10 feet from us.

I couldn’t help myself and I went over and chatted with him.

I wanted him to know that we were locals and that we understood the beach ambassador role and that maybe what we had just witnessed wasn’t the way it should have been handled.

Truthfully I wimped out and didn’t tell he him that in my opinion he had really screwed up.

But there it was.

We went back to our towels and he went back to his chair.

Later walking along the beach my wife and chatted about the incident.

I was still upset.

We tried to figure out what happened to the kid.

Why was he so brusk.

Why was he so mad about?

Why couldn’t he have taken 30 seconds to explain what he was doing?

Trying to rationalize it out we decided that he had just come back from lunch and instead of getting back into the groove of his afternoon he saw someone who had taken an umbrella.

To be sure, in my conversation with him, it turned out that the umbrella was broken and he had put it in a ‘broken equipment’ pile for the beach patrol to pick up and repair.

So maybe he was embarrassed that he had left it out where Mom could find it.

Maybe somehow he was on the spot for letting this Mom find the broken stuff.

It had all been so sudden and so odd.

About an hour later the kid was walking around the beach and checking on the other rentals,

There were two ladies opposite us, on the other side of the spot where the Mom had been trying to set up her umbrella.

‘That lady with the umbrella,’ one of the ladies called out to the Beach Patrol kid.

The Beach Patrol kid walked over to her.

‘I just wanted to tell you,’ said the lady, “we saw her and we called it in.”

The lady said with such pride.

The lady said it was such satisfaction.

The Mom and her small girls were using an umbrella that the Mom had not made arrangements for and that just messed with this lady’s day.

It was a bright beautiful day on a sun splashed beach with pelicans over head and dolphins swimming by.

But the sight of this little family who didn’t know the rules just bit this lady in the butt.

Well, what should she do?

Talk to the family?

Help out the situation in a kindly manner?

In the words of Madea, HELL NO!

Call in the Beach Patrol and inform them that some one was using an umbrella without permission.

That is what you should do.

Get the manager of the Breach Patrol to get on the case of the kid who worked that sector and roust him out of his lunch break and tell to get his section under control.

That is what you should do.

I am sure the manager told the Beach Patrol kid, ‘Don’t you know we could lose our license!!!.’

The Beach Patrol kid runs back out to the beach, sees the umbrella and yanks it out without much of an explanation.

Because these other ladies had to ‘call it in.’

Please understand this all took about 5 minutes.

In other words, the minute this Mom and her daughters came on the scene, those other ladies were so upset, so offended, so small, so mean, that they were grabbing for their phone and ‘calling it in’ faster then might have called in to report a fire or a car accident.

Please understand also that this was a day at the beach that anyone anywhere anytime might dream about.

To have been at the beach yesterday and not be light hearted and care free would have been a sin.

Besides being a sin, it would have been IMPOSSIBLE to have been at the beach yesterday and not be free of any care in the world.

Unless, of course, the sight of a Mom and three little girls struggling with an umbrella made you so upset you had to ‘call it in’ to make the world right again.

You had to ‘call it in’ instantly.

You had to ‘call it in’ with pride.

You had to ‘call it in’ with satisfication.

Not only did you have to ‘call it in’ but you had to make sure the folks in the area gave you credit for it.

I don’t know what else to call it but small.

I don’t know what else to call it but mean.

I don’t know what else to call it but ugly.

Yes-sir-ree Bob – this side of paradise has everything.

The good.

The bad.

And the ugly.

Did I mention that the Mom and daughters were Hispanic?

Did I mention that those other ladies were not Hispanic?

So small.

So mean.

So ugly.

And so very very sad.

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