By Rick Conti
Welcome to my second post in a row to be inspired by a song. This time it’s decidedly more highbrow than the theme song from “Cheers”. Of late, “Summertime”, Gershwin’s gorgeous aria from “Porgy and Bess”, has been running through my head.
And the livin’ is easy.
Fish are jumpin’
And the cotton is high.
Can anyone hear the luscious, lazy melody that carries those lyrics and not be conveyed magically and immediately to a place of warmth and rest? That’s what summer is supposed to be. Time and nature slow down. So should we.
There’s one class of people for whom the song’s sentiments are indisputably inaccurate: Anyone who lives and works on Martha’s Vineyard, especially those in the hospitality trade. In that world apart from the world, living is anything but easy in the summer. Especially given the populace they have to deal with day in and day out (and night in and night out):
Us. The tourists.
We are the barbarian hordes that invade their precious island every summer. We are the voracious cicadas who can’t wait 17 years to strip their island bare. We are the thorn in their flesh even as we are the butter on their bread.
Go ahead, next time you’re out for dinner at that seafood shack or hoity-toity bistro, talk to your waiter about how his summer is going. Ask the young lady serving you at the sports rental store or the woman with the exotic accent who checks you into your hotel. It’s a pretty safe bet that the word “easy” will not play a major part in any of their responses. “Living” might not even make it in there.
Just the fact that you asked said workers how they’re doing could very well end up being a highlight of an otherwise dreary summer. In the summertime, we unload our burdens. Unfortunately we often dump them on undeserving laborers whose only real desire is to help us relax.
So why don’t we treat them better? We might not realize that how we treat others will have a direct correlation to how enjoyable our island experience will be. Perhaps we’re not thinking about it. Maybe we’re just inconsiderate imbeciles.
Or maybe we don’t know how. To help alleviate that possibility, here’s a short list of ideas to make sure that their summertime as well as yours is just a bit easier:
Say “Hello”. Nice start.
Smile. You’re on vacation, after all.
Leave a tip. A good one.
Ask how they’re doing.
Ask them about themselves. It’s not all about you.
Think a few minutes before you complain.
Say “Thank you.” Why would we need to be told this? But we do.
There are plenty of other guidelines but most can be grouped under the label “common courtesy”, something as uncommon as common sense.
Another way of putting it is to practice the Golden Rule. Treat your servers as you would want to be treated if (heaven forbid) you were waiting on them.
In fact, why not wait on them once in a while? Do something for the people who are doing everything for you.
What a novel concept!