White rabbit, white rabbit. I’m sitting down to write this week on July 1st. I remember when I was younger, the Fourth of July seemed like the middle of summer. Now it seems to be the start of it. I remember getting out of school earlier, around the 15th of June, maybe. And of course, in college, I got out in May, so I guess there was more time before the Fourth. I miss that. Now summer just feels like one big race to pack everything in and make sure to enjoy everything, and get to the beach, and take part in special events, and so on, and so on, and so on. It feels so frantic. I’m working hard on actively slowing down the pace. I feel like I say that a lot, and usually fail. But this summer, it is a definite focus for me. That and losing some of the grief weight I’ve put on. Lofty goals, I’d say.
In lieu of big news in this week’s column (I’ve got none), I thought I’d do a Top 10 etiquette suggestions for summer on M.V. Last week, while on a field trip to Boston with fifth graders, I was constantly reminding them of proper etiquette, such as staying to the right on sidewalks, letting others go first, etc. At one point I said to them, “You know all those things that summer visitors do on the Island that drive you nuts? You’re all doing similar things up here, and driving the people who live here crazy.” Their eyes lit up with a comprehension that I don’t always see. They definitely got it. So here we go, in no particular order:
No. 10: Don’t stop as an entire group and clog the whole sidewalk. If you are in a group and stop, move off to the side so others can still get by.
No. 9 (Related to No. 10): Don’t walk shoulder to shoulder down the sidewalk. If people are coming the other direction, walk single file, and pass them shoulder to shoulder. Everyone gets to use the sidewalk.
No. 8: Please don’t stop in the doorway of the store or shop you’re walking into or out of. Go in or out, and move to the side. Let’s keep things flowing.
No. 7: If you are turning left in your car and have to carefully go around a car coming out of the road you are turning onto, just let them go first. It’s so much easier for everyone.
No. 6 (Related to No. 7): Stopping in traffic? Don’t block cross-roads and driveways. Others can get in and out if you don’t block their exit. Chase Road and Upper Main Street by Stop & Shop come to mind.
No. 5: Use your words. Cutting through people or squeaking by them in a small area? Say, “Excuse me,” or, “May I get by?” Don’t just push your way through.
No. 4: Let another person go first sometimes. If I have a lot of stuff at the store and the lines are full, and someone comes behind me with a couple of items, I let them go ahead of me when I can. Kindness never hurts a situation, and often helps.
No. 3: Throw your trash away. Not out the window of your car. Don’t leave it on the beach. We don’t have beach cleanup staff here, like some places off-Island. Pick it up and put it in a trash barrel. This is a beautiful place. Let’s all work to keep it that way.
No. 2: Respect each other. Tourists: Respect islanders. We live here. You don’t. We have Island ways. Try to respect them. And we are not servants. We are workers who deserve the same respect as everyone else. No one should ever be treated as “less than.”
Islanders: Respect tourists. Like it or not, many of us are dependent on the industry. They are trying to enjoy a bit of what we get to have all the time. While this is our home and we want it respected, we aren’t actually special just because we live here. We are lucky that we live here. Everyone: No road rage, no long wait rage, no rude comments. Patience is a virtue, and it really is necessary here on M.V. in the summertime. We have about 100 square miles of space here with about 125,000 people. No matter how you slice it, that is too many people in a small space. Something’s gotta give. So just be kind. Just be kind. Just be kind. Read that one more time. Just be kind. And if you can’t be kind, keep your mouth closed.
No. 1: This is for everyone, but particularly the white BMW with the New York plates: Don’t set your car alarm on the boat. It will go off. More than once. They will call you down to the freight deck. Yes — lock the car. But the alarm is not needed, and is always annoying. And your car isn’t going anywhere without you.
OK, that last one is Island humor. But really, don’t set your alarm on the boat.
It really is pretty easy to coexist here if we just remember the things we learned in kindergarten. Be kind. Share. Be patient. Use nice words. Let others go first. It can all be hard to remember at times, but it really does work.
Happy birthday to Brianna Strelecki on July 7, Betsy Harrington, Scott Ellis, and Melissa DeOliveira on July 8, Anna Dillon on July 10, Courtney Corwin and John Cavanaugh on July 11, and Elsa Vieira and Dalila Vieira Burns on July 12.
After two years of COVID keeping us apart, the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury will hold a Berry Festival on Saturday, July 16, from noon to 4 pm. This festival combines our customary Strawberry and Blueberry Festivals into one glorious Berry Festival, with
delicious Berry Shortcakes and Parfaits, as well as home-baked pies. In addition, there will be a raffle with lots of fun Island items! They will take precautions to ensure this is a safe and festive event.
Have a wonderful week. Stay safe. Stay sane. And stay kind. And as an addendum to the list of rules above, leave the house 15 minutes earlier than you think you need to.
If you have any Edgartown Town Column suggestions, email Gail Gardner, email@example.com.