I think I’m turning into one of those bears in a bad version of “Goldilocks,” and it’s not because I’m grumpy either.
No siree, Missy.
This transformation began about four years ago, and speaks volumes about what some folks might refer to as the crumbling fabric of our society, or the demise of basic manners, or the sheer disregard of other people’s property. Pick one.
In fact, I have a friend who swears civilization as we know it ended when people quit wearing hats and gloves (but that’s an entirely different story for another day).
This Goldilocks/Bear transformation started during my family’s annual trek to the warm brown sands of South Padre Island.
Like most families, we cart all our beach items out in the morning: a shade tent, chairs, cooler, snacks, towels, summer books.
Around lunchtime, we haul some of our beach paraphernalia back inside, but like all the other beachgoers, we leave the shade tent and chairs out.
For more than 20 years, fellow beachgoers were pleasant and polite. We never encountered any problems — until four years ago. Our first incident occurred after we left about midmorning to bebop across the border to Mexico to do a bit of shopping. When we returned that afternoon, tired, hot, sweaty, and perhaps a bit grumpy, we headed back out to the ocean to cool ourselves off.
After we trudged the 900 feet or so to our little piece of paradise, what did we spy? Why, several someones using our tent. “Someone is using our tent,” I told my husband.
My husband approached the tent hijackers, saying something like, “Hey, this is our tent.”
When no one moved, we just picked up the blue pop-up tent and moved it down the beach 60 feet or so.
We chalked the entire little incident up to an aberration, a drunken lapse of judgment on the tent hijackers’ part, and spoke of it no more.
That is, until the next year. Déjà vu. Beach, tent, Mexico, beach…
As we walked toward our tent, I told my daughters, “Uh-oh, someone is sitting in my chair.”
Jeez Louise, several someones were sitting in all our chairs. (See what I mean about that Goldilocks thing?)
Not only were they sitting in our chairs, they were eating a roasted chicken. In fact, they had quite a smorgasbord going on there under our trusty blue pop-up shade.
“Excuse me,” I said, stating the obvious, “but you are sitting in our chairs under our tent.”
Glares. No movement.
“You are going to have to leave,” I said in a louder voice.
Words were exchanged. Not nice words. Threats. More not-so-nice words.
They stomped off, leaving chicken bones in their wake, but stealing one very nice Lands End beach towel.
The next year we didn’t have to worry about anyone sitting in our chairs or under our shade, because someone stole the entire tent.
So this year, thinking that perhaps the tent thing was cursed, we purchased some cute bright lime-green umbrellas to take out to the beach. When we left for lunch, we closed the umbrella. When we returned, it was gone. We spied it about three families down to the left. Some women had heisted our umbrella.
We walked up to the umbrella hijackers, and my husband, stating the obvious, said, “You have our umbrella.”
“Yeah,” one of the women said, “we needed the shade.” No apology. Nothing. We reclaimed our umbrella.
Later we noticed that the hijackers were staying two floors below us. That evening one of the women was flying a kite by the swimming pool. She tied it to the fence and went inside to eat dinner. I wondered how they would have felt if I had taken the kite for a little spin on the beach. After all, they left it unattended.
I could then just say, “Yeah, I needed a kite” when they came to reclaim it.
But you see, I guess I’m just too old-school, with old rules. You know the one. It goes something like this: “Thou shalt not steal.”
Yeah, that one.