— Otis Redding 1967
We just got back from a nice late summer trip to the North Carolina coast. As expected, it was absolutely terrific.
As usual, I did not want to leave …
Obviously, I could be a beach bum with very little effort.
There is nothing in this world I would rather do than to spend my days kicked back in a lounge chair under an umbrella sipping a beer and watching the waves roll in.
Yes, being a beach bum would take no effort at all …
I’m not sure what it is about the beach that is so very attractive to my wife and me. Whatever it is, we just love it. The beach is therapeutic for us, both mentally and physically. Something about it just “does a body good” as they say.
Even our worst beach trips are always great!
But, what vacation would be complete without at least one mis-step to report? There should always be at least one funny story connected to every vacation
So, anyway my story goes something like this …
As part of my therapy and as a condition of my beach bum apprenticeship this past week, I felt compelled to avoid everything that seemed like work. Especially the strenuous task of schlepping our umbrellas and chairs back-and-forth to and from the room every day.
Early on, I had decided that I would test my theory that nobody steals cheap umbrellas and ratty thread-bare beach chairs. I mean, come-on … why would they? I mean, seriously, they’re not worth much to begin with and besides everybody has their own, right?
Of course they do …
So, as we get ready to go in for the evening, I leave the umbrellas stuck in the sand, but I carefully let them down and place our folded chairs neatly next to them, leaving the implicit message that; Yes … we’ve have gone in for the night, and Yes … we are too lazy to carry our stuff … but, Yes, we do trust you not to swipe it.
Naive individual that I am, I went to sleep confident that in the morning when I took my leisurely stroll down to the shore to watch the sun rise with my mug of coffee, that my chair would be there waiting for me.
Because nobody steals cheap beach umbrellas and ratty thread-bare beach chairs.
Nobody that is, except these lousy Sons of Beaches in this dark green 4-wheel drive GMC pick-up. I’m talking about the one with no license tag, that is currently mired up to its floor board in the dune and abandoned right next to our spot … the spot where I had so confidently left our gear the night before.
These low-lifes had actually slithered in under the cover of darkness and casually crept along, loading the bed of their truck with the possessions of innocent people like me.
There was a pile of thread-bare beach chairs and cheap umbrellas … all obviously headed for somebody’s low-rent yard sale or flea-market booth later that day.
Except for one thing … they had lost their truck in the sand dune (if, it was their truck … Hah! Probably stolen!) and they had obviously fled the scene. Talk about a tailor-made entry for “Dumb Crook News.”
Bad boys, bad boys
Whatcha gonna do, whatcha gonna do
When they come for you …
— not sure who sings it, but it’s a cool song
So, I’m standing there humming the theme from “Cops” while casually liberating my stuff, and I’m running various scenarios through my head as to how to make these guys pay. Yeah, I mean pay more than just losing the truck and having to walk home in the middle of the night empty-handed. I mean, really make sure they get what’s coming to them!
“Maybe I’ll cover their vehicle in sardines and bread crumbs then watch as hundreds of starving gulls with loose bowels make withdrawals and deposits on their truck all morning. Heh heh.”
Nah! Diabolically cunning to be sure, but hardly severe enough for the occasion. The punishment should fit the crime!
“No, here’s a better idea. I’ll leave this nasty note on their windshield.”
“Dear low-life scum: Congratulations! For a few bucks worth of corroded aluminum chairs and flimsy umbrellas, you have lost your truck. Was it worth it?!? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha …..”
— signed The Beach Bum
The more I think about it, the angrier I get … “Forget the note on the windshield. A can of spray paint would be SO much more effective … and permanent! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Spray paint …”
“YA GOT WHAT YOU DESERVED … YOU LOW-LIFE THIEVING SCUM!!!!!”
“Yeah! Spray paint, and … AND … I’ll let the air outta their tires! “
“Just TRY to tow your lousy truck outta that deep sand with four flat tires!!!!! Just you try it!!! BWAHAHAHAHAHAAHAH !!” But, wait …
Deep breath ….
Ahhh. Much Better.
Of course, in the end, I didn’t do any of that mean stuff. Of course, I decided to do nothing. I just went back up to our balcony with my coffee and decided to wait.
Doing nothing is what us beach bums do best. Patience is our biggest virtue. I decided to relax … and take it easy. I’m on vacation. And this is therapy, after all.
Mother, Mother Ocean, I have heard you call … I’ve wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall …
— Jimmy Buffett, from “A Pirate Looks at 40”
Well, it wasn’t long before my patience was rewarded. There in the distance, slowly coming up the beach was a tow vehicle and a town cop. And I’m thinking to myself, “Wait a minute. For all these guys know, this is just some poor fisherman whose truck got stuck this morning. They’ll probably just tow it in and make him pay a towing fee to reclaim his truck and otherwise the crook will get off scott free!”
“NO WAY I LET THAT HAPPEN!”
In seconds I’m back down on the beach ready to give this lawman the facts of the case. Slam dunk! When these guys come to claim their truck, they’re going to find themselves facing whatever appropriate punishment might come from a life of stealing cheap umbrellas and worn out beach chairs.
Justice will be served!
And so, the conversation went something like this:
ME: “Excuse me, officer.”
THE OFFICER: “Yes-sir, how can I help you?”
ME, (FULL OF RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION): “Well, sir, I just wanted to report that when I came down here this morning, ALL the gear I left overnight on the beach, was in the bed of this pick-up truck!
OFFICER: UM-HMMM … I see …
ME: Don’t worry though …. I got my stuff back, but I felt like it was my duty to report it in case you’re actually able to catch the guys who are responsible.”
OFFICER: “Thank you sir. I appreciate your concern, but not to worry. We know exactly who is responsible.
ME: You do??
OFFICER: Oh, yes sir. This is a city vehicle and the operator is assigned to confiscate anything left on the beach overnight.”
ME: “Ohhhh. So … it’s actually … um, against the law … to leave stuff on the beach overnight??”
OFFICER (WITH GRAVE EXPRESSION): “Yes sir, actually it is.”
ME: ” I … um, er … okay … Good -to-know … Thank you officer.”
OFFICER (SMILING NOW): “You have a nice day sir.”
And I did have a nice day … safe in the knowledge that there was no dangerous ring of thieves operating at night on our stretch of the beach … with my faith in human nature restored … I simply went back to my therapy.
It was easy actually.
No trouble at all for an aspiring beach bum like me.