Census for December 5, 2010
2 Chelonia mydas basking
I knew it was going to happen, but was hoping it wouldn’t. I knew my wife was going to want to come to work with me to check up on this “so-called job,” as she calls it. As soon as she said she wanted to come, I knew there was going to be an incident. I knew she wouldn’t understand my position. She works at home all day by herself. She has no idea about the stress in working with the public and at the same time dealing with wild animals. This is not some Disneyland fantasy ride.
It was a nice morning walk across lava fields to the next beach up the coast. I was, as usual, working, looking for turtles and ever vigilant for those that wish to do them harm. She was just walking and enjoying the scenery. She then said she would like to go back to Punaluu to just sit on the beach.
“Are you sure you want to do that dear? You know I am on 24/7.”
“Oh give me a break and just sit on the beach for an hour.”
“If we must.”
All was going well for the first quarter hour. And then a wonderful Chelonia mydas beached itself right at our feet. This beauty had to tip the scales at 400 lbs. This was a large, mature female, probably at least 30 years old. What a specimen! We were both enchanted. But then I noticed a tour bus pulling into the lot about 400 yards away. “Show time,” I uttered, while pulling on my fluorescent green cycling vest.
“What? What the hell are you wearing? Oh please!” she muttered. I think it was disbelief with a dose of exasperation I noted in her tone.
I finished preparing. With the fluorescent green vest I included my whistle, my binoculars, my Field Guide to Turtles and Fishes, my tide book, and my newly made “Turtle Warning System Cards” (TWSC).
The TWSC is my new invention. It was a stroke of genius, if you ask me. Due to the number of European visitors that we have at Punaluu and due to the fact that I only speak English and Hawaiian Pidgeon (more on that shortly), we needed a method to communicate quickly and clearly. With the TWSC, when a person violates Turtle Personal Space Rule (TPSR), I blow my whistle and run down the beach until I am face-to-face with the TPSR violator and then I show them a yellow card and note it in the TWSC Data Records Book. A second violation will result in a red card and banishment back to the tour bus. A person touching a turtle would earn an automatic red card. This would require me to escort them to the bus and report it to the tour director.
I was watchful as the group neared my Chelonia mydas. To break the ice, I would approach the gawkers and engage them in some of the local lingo, Hawaiian Pidgeon.
“Howzit, visitors. Aloha and mahalo, welcome to Da Kine Hawaiian Turtles (the real deal Hawaiian turtles).”
“Who are you?” An impertinent young man accompanied by a 20-something hard-body asked.
“I am da Docent . Da turtles are taking da sleep befo de go for some ono grind (good food). Me and da turtles are ohana (family)."
“Whatever old guy. Do you know how to work a camera? Would you take our picture?” asked the young man.
“Sure thing, kahuna”, I replied. I’ll fix his wagon, this smart-mouthed, flat-bellied youngster. Just because you have a full head of thick luxurious hair you think you can disrespect me and my language, I’ll show you. You know, I may not be Hawaiian, but I did sleep in Pahala last night.
So I framed up their picture and snapped away.
“Let me get another.”
“Just one more, perfect.”
I got 5 good photographs and that wiseass doesn’t have his mug in one of them. Though I did get some good close ups of the more curvaceous parts of his girlfriend’s anatomy. See how that plays back in Peoria, arsehole.
I looked back to make sure my bride was catching my tactful display of people skills. She must have been really proud because her face was all red and she was trying to hide her pride by hiding behind her beach towel.
Well, then it really hit the fan as a elderly couple violated the TPSR. I raced into action. I was a whistle-blowing, binocular-clanking, yellow-card-displaying dervish of a docent. By the time I finished recording the violations in TWSC Data Records Book, I was a nervous wreck. I headed back to our chairs just in time to see my wife burn rubber out of the parking lot.
I knew she wouldn’t understand.