Friday, August 20, 2010

Bonanza Column 199 – Tourist Season

Over the past couple of weeks the Bonanza has run a number of pieces – articles, letters to the editor, person in the street questions – about life here in a tourist destination and its ups and downs. Mostly these have been light-hearted notes, with some serious undertones, the theme of which has pointed to the tendency of some (though by no means all) tourists to behave in ways that are objectionable to those of us who live here.

I've lived in a number of tourist destinations, and the complaints are the same wherever you go. It seems that a significant number of people, when they go on vacation, leave their manners and consideration for others at home. I've spoken to rentors who have horrific stories of vacation properties being trashed in ways that would make a heavy metal band proud, and we all have stories of crazy drivers, rudeness in the super market, on the beaches, and in restaurants. And don't get me started about hairy, sweaty, beer-bellied individuals of both genders who seem to feel that tank tops and no tops are appropriate attire for public places – I object to them on both esthetic and hygienic grounds.

But the one that I think is over the top is the boater who, when told that he would need to decontaminate his boat before putting it into the Lake, went to another inspection station, lied, and launched his boat. In case you missed this story, this person came to Cave Rock wanting to launch on June 28th – his boat had last been in Sand Hollow Reservoir in Utah — a mussel-infested body of water, according to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District. In addition to having been in this water, the boat had water in it, and so was very likely to be carrying mussels. The inspectors deemed that decontamination was required and told him to return on July 1. This worthy then went to the Meyers station on June 29th, told the inspectors there that the boat had been in Lake Powell, which is not infested, that it had been out of the water for six months, and, interestingly, the Meyers inspectors found no water in the boat, so they issued a permit and allowed him to put the boat in the lake.

The TRPA Governing Board will most likely fine the man at its meeting on Wednesday, but if there is damage, it is done. I don't know how this individual justifies his actions, but you can be sure he does - people who place themselves above the law and above the common good always do. I have no doubt he thinks he had a "right" to launch – after all, it's a public lake, he pays taxes that support TRPA, he made sure he got rid of the water, etc., etc. Friday's article about this on the Bonanza website said that the paper is trying to contact him, and I hope they do – as a Psychologist it would be very interesting to me to hear how he rationalizes what is, at its heart, an anti-social and anti-nature action.

We've all heard the old joke – why do they call it tourist "season" if we can't shoot them? In my experience the vast majority of tourists who come here Winter and Summer are nice people, act civilly, and follow the rules. Of those who don't, mostly they seem unconscious about their actions and don't seem to intentionally be trying to give offense. This guy, though, can't claim that – to be given a lawful instruction, disregard it, and lie to get around the rules requires thought, premeditation, and intent. I guess a fine is all TRPA can do, but I'd like to see his name and picture in the paper – this is a case where public shaming might actually be effective, and it would surely be appropriate. Too bad we did away with the stocks.

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