Outside of New England, I've been to St. Martin, France, Ohio, Canada, Florida, North Carolina, Arizona, and Colorado. So needless to say my experience of the world, even my own country, is limited. But that's never really bothered me. Maybe because I live in a beautiful place, but I think it's more that I have a vivid imagination and I allow myself to become totally lost in books and movies.
That being said, it's interesting to be a stay-at-home introvert and live on a place that is populated largely by visitors for three months of the year. Most of the people I interact with are people who enjoy seeing new places or traveling. It makes me sad how many people seem to be miserable while on vacation. I haven't really been on a vacation is years, life hasn't allowed for a stretch of time off. And being how I am, my ideal vacation is staying at my house for a week. Going anywhere involving an airplane, rental car, luggage, hotel rooms, etc, just sounds like a lot of work. Not to say it's not wonderful, but its not a vacation to me if its that much work. The most strenuous vacation I'd enjoy is driving to Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine to camp for a few days in the woods and sit by a fire in a place where there is no shower. That sounds wonderful to me.
So when I wait on tourists at the restaurant, or get stuck in lines with them, or any other interaction, it strikes me that so many of them seem viciously unhappy. I'm generalizing, mind you. Many tourists are wonderful happy people who are kind to the people serving them and courteous to the locals. Unfortunately, the vast majority are not like that. I've been treated so poorly by other human beings while waiting tables during tourist season that it shakes my faith in the goodness of humanity. I've watched other servers break down crying while someone screams in their face. Apparently, having a slightly overcooked burger is cause for this kind of behavior. I'm not prone to crying, no matter how nasty someone is to me. I worked on fishing boats as an observer for 2 years in a dangerous profession, surrounded by strangers all the time who weren't happy I was there. It takes a lot to intimidate me, and in all my years working in the service industry, I've only cried once. It's tempting to publicly shame the vicious man who was shouting at me and calling me stupid when I was the only server trying to take care of about 65 people, but I won't. He's just lucky I kept the cooks from taking revenge for me. Always be courteous to the people who handle your food...
People on vacation sometimes get this air of entitlement that is very hard to tolerate. It's as though the moment they leave their home, they become the center of the world. Everything has to be exactly as they like it and no one else even exists. I've seen countless people come into a restaurant during the busy summer season and start literally shouting at a host or hostess because they have to wait 45 minutes to an hour to sit down. Do they not see the 40 other people already waiting and that all of the tables are full? And they always demand to know where else they can go where they won't have to wait. I'm tempted to tell them to go home, but I restrain myself. Cape Cod in the summer is absolutely overflowing with more people than it can really hold, so there is a wait EVERYWHERE.
Our roads are not designed for the amount of traffic, so it's going to take hours to get anywhere. We have one highway that goes through the lower Cape. Through parts of Wellfleet and Truro there is literally ONE ROAD that goes through. There are no back roads. People don't really grasp what that means until there is a car accident and they close the highway for hours and there is literally no way to get out of or into P-town, Truro, or Wellfleet. There is not enough parking, and nowhere to add more. Every restaurant is going to be full of people. On the lower Cape, we have 2 large grocery stores that serve five towns, from Orleans to P-town. If you've ever looked at a map of Cape Cod,(like the one below) you'd notice how much space that really is. So the Stop and Shop is going to be mobbed and there are going to be lines and it's going to be hard to move. That's just the way it is. And while I realize it's annoying to the tourists, take a moment to think of how it feels for the locals who are just trying to get to work or get groceries after working a 10 hour day.
This blog has been somewhat of a rant. I hope it's not depressing or a downer. But I want to express what it's like to really live on Cape Cod, and it's not all sandy beaches and nice restaurants. It's a hard place to live, with few work opportunities outside of the service and labor industry, and many of those are seasonal, Beauty has a price.
I want to counter this rant with a bit of positive. I try and be a balanced person. While summer tourists have a tendency to be cruel, fall tourists are amazing. I've met the nicest happiest people in September and October. They tend to be retirees, or couples without children, so there is usually no rush. They like to chat with staff and will sit and enjoy their bottle of wine. It's still decently busy but no longer insane. I can make a left on the highway again. There might be a wait at a restaurant on a Friday or Sat, but no longer than 20 minutes for a large party. It's true that the water is cold and it's not really beach season anymore. It's also a reality that half of the summer restaurants close on Labor Day, and another quarter close on Columbus Day. There are 2 restaurants that stay open in Eastham year-round. That's it. We are not a place of variety in the winter.
Fall is wonderful here. My hours at work get cut back, and I have some time to actually go to the beach. I can start going for walks again. And the people I do interact with are so much happier. They tell me about where they are from, their lives, and they listen to my story as well. I wish summer was more like fall. I don't know why people need to rush, push and shove, yell, and demand. All of that behavior just makes things worse and slows things down further. I guess it's just human nature to be that way. So I'll be a fall person. Take my time, be kind to others, listen, and walk on the beach alone.