My Summer Hat
Published July 3, 2012
By Tony Law
Like many Hornby Islanders, I wear a different hat in the summer when jobs open up to serve our influx of visitors. In my case, it’s not just a metaphorical hat. I have to don a uniform provided by my employer, the company contracted to manage provincial parks. Unlike other people walking in Helliwell and Tribune Bay parks, I actually get paid for doing this! Of course, there are responsibilities involved: some are enjoyable, some less-than-pleasant and some challenging.
I always enjoy providing information or colour commentary to enhance visitors’ appreciation of the parks and island. And I never tire of witnessing the delight of people experiencing Helliwell or Tribune for the first time. But best of all is reconnecting with returning visitors, including some I have seen grow up year by year and who are now bringing their own offspring to Hornby.
Not so pleasant is picking up garbage and cleaning outhouses. But it keeps one humble, which is important for an elected official like me. I recall overhearing a resident telling a French visitor: “That’s Tony, he’s an island trustee.” To which the visitor responded: “Ah, it should be this way in France too; all politicians should have to pick up garbage!”
The big challenge is in finding the right balance between friendliness, tact and authority when approaching people who are blatantly ignoring the rules in place to protect the parks and their enjoyment.
There are days when it seems to go like this…
I speak to a guy with a can of Lucky in his hand and empties at his feet and he says: “What’s the harm in having coupla beers? You should do something about that loose dog terrorizing my toddler!”
So I speak to the dog owner and she says: “My old Rex would never hurt a flea. You should do something about that awful loud music ruining everyone’s afternoon!”
So I speak to the kids with the amped-up sounds and they say: “Chill man, everyone likes Bob Marley. You should do something about that smoky fire stinking up the beach before it sets the logs alight!”
So I speak to the family with the fire and they say: “Have a heart, we are just starting to cook lunch for our hungry kids. You should do something about that guy drinking all those Luckies!”
Sometimes, to retain my sanity (or my personal brand of insanity) I am tempted to have fun by indulging in Monty-Pythonisms such as: “Excuse me, but do you have a permit for that kite you are flying?” or: “I’m sorry, the beach will be closed tomorrow because we are sending the sand away to be cleaned.”
When summer is over it feels spookily quiet for a while. But then the Fall Faire provides a time for the community to regroup and get into winter mode again and for me to hang up my summer hat until next year.