Letters to the Editor

Characters make life richer and are part of genuine community | Letter to the Editor

A recent letter about rudeness toward summer people (“Summer residents bring money, deserve respect,” July 10) coincided nicely with an all-islander gathering, where the first comment I heard upon arrival was, “Oh! The summer people are here!”  I laughed, mentioned the letter and enjoyed as we regaled each other with stories of the cashiers at Thriftway through who’s lane we, too, will not pass.

So, dear summer person, take heart. You are not in the minority. Your focus on money, however, clearly marks you as a non-islander.

By focusing on the money you spend, it’s strikingly clear that you are asking us — islanders — to sell ourselves. Voluntarily. Even gratefully. And, I understand why. In non-communities, employees are expected to leave themselves, their opinions, their attitudes and their personality in the break room. So, having a cashier act like a disgruntled neighbor (rather than an automaton) will likely result in culture-shock. But there is value here.

Ever read a great novel with blandly polite minor characters? Probably not. Character is what makes a character worth knowing. And, it’s also what you get when you have “real community.” The boisterous butcher in New York, the curmudgeon who owns a hole-in-the-wall book shop in San Fran, the gossipy housewife in Birmingham, the sweetly naive ice-cream girl in Santa Barbara and the good-looking college guy who smirks coolly at you from behind the bar in Cancun. These descriptors make the moment. They create a story worth reading.

In contrast, the vacant smiles and false courtesy of dehumanized employees in the city is, to me highly unsatisfying. I worry for these people, having to pretend they care for a paycheck. It can’t be healthy.

So, my dear summer person, I offer you a hearty and direct welcome to Vashon-Maury Island. Where the people are real!

— March Twisdale

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