As I was loading my beach gear back into the car after another glorious beach day today, the woman who had pulled in next to me asked how crowded it was on the beach. I told her it was pretty busy but that I had just come from the corner which was quiet and she should head that way. In that moment, she realized I was a local, like herself, because I so quickly understood what she was asking. “How bad are the tourists today?” My direction was enough to clue her in that I was just like her. I mentioned they seemed worse this summer and she completely agreed. We talked about how she couldn’t make a left turn for 10 minutes trying to get here. I mentioned some of the interactions I have had with workers in local businesses being so grateful for me being polite and when they realized I was local, they would open up about their experiences with the tourists this year. She further validated this by telling me where her daughter works and how she comes home from work each day complaining about how entitled the tourists are behaving this year. It’s unlike any other year.

The conversation was very pleasant and we parted ways, wishing each other a great rest of the day. As she left, I noticed a bag of dog poop sitting next to her car that had been left there by a tourist (photo above.). What’s disturbing about this, beyond the fact it was within feet of a sign indicating no dogs allowed between a Memorial Day and Labor Day, is that even closer was a garbage receptacle. It couldn’t have been easier to just throw it out, erase all evidence of having given the middle finger to the beach rule. I couldn’t think of a better metaphor for the ever pervasive behavior of most tourists visiting this summer.

When I was a teenager, my parents were thinking about buying a house down here. I was adamantly against it to the point my father brought me with him to meet the real estate agent and look at houses to see if he could change my mind. My argument then was that it was such a crowded, overdone, elitist tourist Mecca. It’s where all the entitled rich people went every weekend and our family wasn’t like them. I protested greatly about the amount of time that would be wasted commuting back and forth with so many poor, entitled drivers. I wasn’t quite as articulate or “woke” on white privilege then as I am now but I think that’s the concept I was hinting at. My parents certainly didn’t need my permission to buy a house but I was pitching enough of a fit, they decided maybe I did need to be part of the process.

Once down here and seeing houses with my dad, I did start to envision what it might be like to live down here for the summer, get a summer job, learn how to sail a boat, go to the beach with my siblings. I was a good swimmer and even pictured becoming a lifeguard. While it was the dead of winter, my dad did take me for a walk on a beach near the house he really wanted. It was then I fell in love with the beach in winter. Nearly every year since then, I have found a beach for at least one winter walk. I don’t know if it was truly the Cape I fell in love with that day or just the time spent alone with my dad, not fighting (a very rare occurrence) but I got on board and told him it would be ok to buy the house.

When it got down to the wire, my parents decided not to go ahead with buying the house and, instead, decided to put a pool in at our Natick house. A few years after that, the real estate market and economy struggled to the point my parents were relieved at their decision. They said that had they bought the house, they would have eventually gone into debt and lost both houses. By adding a pool and having a house in very sought after, Natick, they profited exceptionally. When they sold the Natick house, they were able to buy 2 houses; one locally for the work week and one on a lake in NH. They were then able to continue profiting off the NH real estate to the point they traded up from a condo to a house and from a house to a land purchase where they built their dream house. The problem was, once they retired and moved to their dream house full time, they found themselves bored outside the summer season because it became a ghost town. When they realized they had a lot of friends on the Cape and that there could be year round activity, they moved down here.

I have now spent a good chunk of time down here over the past seven summers, moving here full time last August in the pandemic. My parents once mentioned they will probably have to sell their house to pay for a nursing home in the future. Because I had been coming down every weekend, I realized I could be helpful with some of the things they have lost the ability to do. I am also staunchly against my parents spending their last years in any sort of nursing home. They are remarkable people who deserve much better so I am here and prepared to take on additional responsibilities as they need. I will worry much less being 15 minutes away from them and having to commute back to the office a few days a week than how much I was worrying a few hours away and spending a bunch of time commuting on the weekends. The commute time will eventually be the same, just “flipped” in a way which allows me to both work and attend to aging parents without giving myself an ulcer. I had also been living in a Townhouse association which became a real nuisance when the Pandemic hit. Having to trust close neighbors to cooperate with social distancing and masks in common spaces wasn’t as easy as it should have been. It was a very “conservative” Trump town I had been living as it bordered New Hampshire.

I have a quaint little ranch house that’s smaller than the Townhouse but I have a huge yard and it’s all mine. When I step outside with the dog, I don’t have to worry that Covid danger is lurking right around the corner. I enjoy gardening and landscaping. For years, my dad said I could never handle owning a house because he couldn’t see me mowing a lawn or shoveling a driveway the way association fees covered for me at the Townhouse. Regardless, I have still spent the past 5 winters shoveling myself in and out of my parking spot in every storm because they started doing a very late and lazy job with it so my fees weren’t really getting me that much. Fast forward to buying my own house, I actually enjoy mowing my lawn and I only had to shovel once this winter. I am much happier having the fees back in my pocket and helping with my mortgage.

I haven’t gone out much since moving in becAuse of the Pandemic. Only this summer did I start going back to the grocery store. I have seen my family without masks and have been out to dinner 3 times; all with appropriately safe “bubble” people. I stopped wearing a mask from the beach parking lot to the sand. But I never stopped wearing my mask and rubber gloves any time I go to an indoor establishment. That turned out to be very smart considering the tourists brought another Covid surge down here – namely Delta, which we discovered is transmissible to and from vaccinated people because of our very own Provincetown getting over 800 cases right after the 4th of July. 75% were in vaccinated people. This means that amongst the non mask wearers were not just vaccinated tourists, but unvaccinated ones virtually “lying” about their safety to us.

I’m a beach girl. Have been my whole life. In fact, I think our parents taught us how to properly “beach.” When we were kids, the beach was a full day event and we knew we had to walk a long way on the beach because it was important to give others their space, especially when you have children with you. We complained every year about the walk and everything we had to carry. They didn’t make yuppie beach wagons back then. Coolers didn’t have wheels. Chairs were not collapsible and toteable like a purse. Since then, when I go to the beach, I don’t just drop my stuff in the first spot I see. I look for a space away from others and I expect them to do the same for me. The pandemic put this need into overdrive for me to the point I actually have trouble sleeping the night before the beach for fear I won’t get to the beach in time to find that remote space and keep the tourists away from me. Every day this week, I progressively started setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier just to get me beach spot and stop worrying.

My dad jokes that I’m a snob. I can’t deny that. I am very much a snob about my beach space and I do feel entitled because I live here. I have had depression my whole life as well as pretty severe anxiety. I have found the beach to literally be the only place where I can truly relax and breathe normally. I also have PTSD so having people behind me or too close and making me feel boxed in does cause me panic attacks on the beach. It sucks but I don’t need any more space than some 5 person family uses with their circus tents, toy wagons and giant Yeti coolers. I go to the end corner of the beach where the twigs, ticks and bugs are and set up my space far from prime, close to water beach space, so there really is zero reason for anyone to sit near me. There is plenty of space elsewhere so when they do it, it’s by inconsiderate choice …probably because they figure I am quiet and won’t disturb them. But they disturb the Hell out of me. Tourists only think of their own experience. My brain is hyperactive so I can’t focus on reading a book if I can hear someone else’s conversation or music nearby. I get physically very anxious when I find myself re-reading the same sentence over and over again. Plus, people need to hear this. NO ONE, not a local or a tourist, wants to listen to your music on the beach so either use ear buds or keep it off.

The beach is slightly better this year than last. When I first moved down here and decided this was my preferred beach, it was also the only public beach in Yarmouth. It’s very small with a small parking lot. During the pandemic, the rules on beaches were 12 feet between beach blankets, 6 feet between each other when walking/swimming and mask wearing when walking out of your blanket space. People were very obviously not doing this. In addition, fights between soccer moms were breaking out in the parking lot over who perceived should have been the one to get the last space. I had a woman intentionally try to run me off the road and when I got the spot first, she jumped out of her car (with Virginia plates) and started yelling at me. I couldn’t help myself, I yelled back “typical tourist.” She yelled back “what makes you think I’m a tourist?” I simply said “because the people who live here don’t treat each other that way and your Virginia plates, idiot” which shut her up.

Thankfully, the town recognized how awful this issue and the overcrowding were. People were parking on neighborhood streets, blocking owners’ driveways and walking in once the lot was full. There simply wasn’t enough room on the beach for them and they didn’t care. This year, the town made it a fee beach and once the lot is full you can’t come in. That has mostly improved the space issue meaning there is enough room for everyone to spread out. It’s just some people still don’t and sit on top of you. I had friends here last week visiting from Spain and we went to the beach on a particularly crowded day. I hadn’t seen It that packed all summer. Even still, I found a decent enough spot with space from others. As soon as my friend sat down, a new group came in and literally sat within inches of her, even kept moving their chairs closer to her to the point she had to move. I was so embarrassed. Her culture does not behave like that. I know because I spent time in her country where I was so blown over by the politeness and focus on quality of life I put it on my “someday if I move out of the country” list of places I would go.

Why are the tourists so awful and entitled this year to the point it’s very noticeable amongst all the locals and local businesses? I really don’t know. But it’s literally “the talk” down here. The businesses are definitely struggling with staffing. Traditionally, this is an area where students from other countries come to live and work over the summers to earn college money. Because of Covid, they can’t get their visas so it’s crippled the businesses. Most businesses are family owned and have their whole families pitching in. Wages have been increased to entice local teenagers to take the jobs. There was even a controversy with Chatham Bars Inn telling their workers to actively recruit from other bars and restaurants if they received good service. They were to give that waiter/waitress a business card and a promise of a generous sign on bonus which stole them away from that establishment in order to make sure the rich people at CBI weren’t inconvenienced by staff shortages. Heaven forbid they have to wait an extra minute for valet parking.

I am constantly hearing stories of 16 year olds being yelled and sworn at by adults. Every day at the beach, these teenagers have to do lifeguard rescues of stupid tourists who don’t educate themselves about the tides and ignore the signs of where they shouldn’t be swimming. I watched one rescue last week where the guy didn’t even thank the Lifeguard once they got back onto the beach. My friends and I saw 2 little girls nearly drown when lifeguards went out to save them. The first thing both my friends asked was “why aren’t their parents helping them?” That thought also crossed my mind but, unfortunately, I was used to seeing it. Most of the time, the parents aren’t paying attention and don’t even know the lifeguard running into the water is heading out for their kid. But honestly, the 2 little girls who were struggling, their father was there on the sandbar and he didn’t make a move into the water to help them. Yes, I get it would have been dangerous for him too but isn’t there a parental instinct which just kicks in? Not always. I guess he felt the lifeguards were a service he was entitled to, just like a Starbucks barista getting his coffee for him.

A couple days ago, another unparented child started drifting and couldn’t get back. A total stranger went after her and risked his own life while waiting for the lifeguard to come. He was a tourist. Occasionally, there are good ones. In fact, he was doctor so it makes sense he had a life saving instinct. But, he was also a parent and appeared to have that instinct too. He’s the only parent I have seen all summer respond to a child’s emergency and it wasn’t even his kid. Yeah, that’s how bad it is down here. Lifeguards are just now an expected service you get when you are ignoring your kids; like a nanny which most of these visitors are also accustomed to. I see plenty of them on the beach tending to the kids while mom and dad go God knows where and the kids just scream until they come back. A pleasant experience for the beach goers and nanny left behind.

I am certainly a product of white privilege. I am likely the youngest single woman owning a house down here. That’s privilege, for sure. I also feel entitled because I am a local. By no means am I a perfect little walk in the park. The Cape is an interesting place. People down here are either super conservative or super liberal. There is nothing in between complete hippie and a pickup truck with Trump stickers on it and American Flags draped off the back. Yet, we do co exist a little better than other locations where I have experienced this dichotomy. We do all seem to understand climate change has endangered our location which is usually a topic we do not agree upon on the other side of the bridge. We take pride in our environment as well as supporting local businesses. We treat each other with kindness and respect. We treat our service workers with kindness and respect.

I love living here and want to acknowledge those who work hard to make this such a great place to live. Without our service workers, we wouldn’t have such an eden we want to fiercely protect from the tourists. With that, I’d like to express thanks to the following people I have encountered on my 2 week “staycation.”

To the young man at Apple Nails in Harwich. You did a beautiful job. Thank you for wearing a mask, I am sorry that no other patrons outside my sister in law and I were wearing masks. I am sorry that the tourists have been rude and demanding to you. I am glad you were able to have a little respite working with us, civilized and grateful people. I told you then and will do so again now. Thank you for what you do. You are providing us with a privilege you certainly don’t have to and we are grateful. You deserve to be treated with respect by everyone.

To Black Sheep, I am sorry you have to post a sign outside asking the tourists to be patient with you due to being understaffed. Our waitress was lovely and very welcoming to my friends from Spain. Thank you also for wearing a mask, even outside when serving us.

To the young woman who was crying to her co-worker at Marshall’s yesterday afternoon, you work hard getting all those products on the floor and answering questions from people. I am sorry the patrons are so rude that you ended your work day in tears. I saw you and I appreciate you. There is no earthly reason I or anyone else “needs” throw pillows to the extent you should be that exasperated. I apologize that others don’t recognize this. Also, to the cashier who serviced me, you were a sweetheart and so pleasant. I am sure you ask every customer how they are doing and it gets exhausting but you sounded like you genuinely meant it. Know that when I asked you the same thing, I sincerely meant it as well.

To the helpers at Stop and Shop in the self service check-out. Yes, I know self service is controversial and said to be putting cashiers out of work. From my experience with the self checkout, I think this risk is a little further off considering how touchy the machine is. I have learned you can’t scan your items to fast or the system thinks you have out something in your bag without scanning it. That requires you to come over and punch in a code. Also, the weight limit on the bagging side causes issues if you buy bottled water and litter. Despite it telling you the limit has been reached in your scanned items, when you go to move the scanned kitty litter to your cart, the machine again thinks you are stealing so you have to fix that. And, fruits and veggies, god help me. I wear gloves so it’s hard to get the keys to register the letters I am trying to enter and that jams it up. You typically have to come over and help me 3 times while you hear me talk back to the machine that I did scan the item and I don’t need help. Also, what’s with the Radom food scarcity of tourists? It’s not predictable what food item they are going to clear the shelves of each week. One week it’s Dave’s bread, another week it was all the Pringle’s. Another week, only the non dairy ice cream. This week it was rice pilaf. WTF?

To the lifeguards at Gray’s. You are phenomenal. You are supposed to really just be able to sit there, get a tan and flirt with each other, maybe look for shark fins and lightning every once in awhile. I am sure your friends at the other beaches are having a little more fun than you. You work extremely hard. You are laser focused on every little moment and know you are about to go on a rescue seconds before it even happens. You are constantly having to tell other people’s children not to jump off the marsh into the water; parents nowhere to be found and blatant disregard for the sign in front of the marsh which says to stay off the marsh because it is environmentally sensitive.

To the “gatekeepers” of Gray’s Managing the fees and parking passes. THANK GOD FOR YOU! You are the best thing that has happened all summer. I can’t imagine how much flack you get from people when they realize there is a fee now or if you have to turn them away if the lot is full. By the way, last Saturday, the tourists were parking on the neighborhood streets again and walking in. I saw a bunch of it on my way out. You are absolutely seeing people walk in pretending to be renters within walking distance. They lie. They are probably also unvaccinated. The dishonesty thing seems to follow a certain pattern with the tourists.

Lastly, to whomever gets stuck picking up that bag of dog poop 4 feet from the trash, thank you. You shouldn’t have to do that. ALL dog owners know it’s our responsibility to pick up after our pets. Personally, I don’t understand why they bothered to even bag it if they weren’t going to take the next logical step of taking it to the trash. They don’t deserve to own a pet. If you want to own a dog, you resign yourself to picking up poop a couple times a day for the duration of your dog’s life. The extent to the pleasantry or lack of pleasantry on that depends on the size of the dog you choose.

I am re-addicted to caffeine and obsessed with the Wendy’s large Diet Coke. I go every day. During the pandemic, you were the only people I interacted with every day. Your workers are wonderful and are starting to feel like family. They know my order and who I am. They compliment my outfits, my earrings and even my masks as I pass through. Honestly, if my company would just allow full time remote work, you have at least 3 people I am ready to recruit because their customer service is top notch. You are doing something exceptionally right in your hiring and training.

On behalf of all the locals down here, grinning and bearing it, unable to make left turns until after Labor Day, I leave you with the bumper sticker I once saw on the bike trail in Chatham “I am not on your vacation.” I repeat this mantra in my head every time I leave the house, prepared to blurt it out whenever a situation finally escalates to the point I can’t keep it in any longer. I haven’t had to use it yet. So far, cordoning off a section of personal space on the beach with my windscreen seems to be getting the message across most days; except last Saturday when it didn’t work and I ended up leaving the beach early because the tourists ruined the day. Next time, though, I’m not leaving the beach. I’m going to quote the bumper sticker and see what happens.