Safety alert! We’ve got a situation on our hands, and it’s imperative that we address it right away before the good will of our town residents evaporates.
I know I do a lot of kidding in this column, but I’m perfectly serious today. In fact, I’m feeling like a poor man’s Zola waking up with the first words of “j’accuse!” on his lips.
Here’s the thing: Our town authorities have voted to remove lifeguard services from the town beach this summer.
Since this seems to be about numbers-crunching, why don’t we, while we’re at it, take out the speed reduction signs in the school zone, eliminate bags of sidewalk salt for winter storms and, oh heck, who needs ambulances? If someone’s sick or injured, why can’t he or she call a cab or even hitchhike to the hospital?
Now if we were going to preserve time-honored protections such as lifeguards at the beach, here are some suggested cost cuts that, while painful, will allow us to put precious human life at the top of our priorities.
We could take a closer look at the extra police force hired in the summer. Let’s face it: We’re not the next Bosnia, we’re not the center of international drug cartels, and even the festivities of our Fourth of July weekend pale in comparison to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. So do we really need to beef up our patrols with more cops than Papa Doc employed Tonton Macoutes? Look at it this way: Give half a dozen of these fresh-faced recruits a life-saving course, hand them tubes of sunblock, point them in the direction of the beach, and no one need go missing a summer job.
And here’s another bit of budget pruning to consider (which is also guaranteed to lose me some friends): Town government officials are campaigning for salary increases. Okay, you guys, so you’re not making as much as people in your positions in Pittsfield or Tewksbury. Let me tell you who’s making less than you here on the Island: Almost all of us. Frankly, outside of those lucky few with trust funds, the only people on the Vineyard in possession of any kind of job stability and steady income are those collecting government checks. So chill, will you? Until we can pay for lifeguards on our shore, you might consider holding back on agitating for that sixth digit in your income.
A Day At The Beach has become the gold standard of cliches for life at its happiest. A Day At The Beach shouldn’t include fears that Aunt Edie will get a stomach cramp and drown or that, without anyone on look-out to shout a warning, Jaws will return to drag off a little kid.
We’re all residents of Oak Bluffs. We honor and respect one another (for the most part). If we love our neighbor as ourselves, or at least make an honest effort to do so, we’ll retain lifeguards at our beach. As Hillel said, “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you [yes, another famous prophet gave those words a little tweaking]. All the rest is commentary.”
In breaking library news, the poetry club will meet for the first time on Wednesday, April 16 at 10:30 a.m. A third-Wednesday poetry group will continue until the end of time or until further notice, whichever comes first. If you come early, at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, you can enjoy the weekly library coffee klatch.
In further library news, springtime marks the fines-amnesty program. No, this doesn’t mean because your book is overdue you need to move to Canada. You can make amends right here in Oak Bluffs. From April 7 to 20, overdue materials can be erased from the records in return for you making a nonperishable food contribution to the Island Food Pantry. And even if you’ve been holding on to that copy of Moby Dick since November of 2002, there’ll be a little credit for you at the Pearly Gates. Of course, you will need to return the book.
And here’s the lineup for the library’s story-telling time: today, Friday, April 4 at 3:30 p.m., a poetry and rhyme theme and a 3-D daffodil craft for those ages six through 10. On Saturday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m., all ages are welcome for Fancy Nancy Extravaganza. Come dressed in your fanciest attire, and enjoy sparkly crafts and cupcakes after reading. On Wednesday, April 9, pre-schoolers help name our new toy kangaroos. And on Thursday, April 10 from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m., teen games for ages 10 through 18.
From Carlin Hart at the Oak Bluffs School: A reminder that the big-bang town meeting is at hand on Tuesday, April 8 at 7 p.m. at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School Performing Arts Center, with town and school budgets scheduled for vote.