What in the World Were They Thinking?
When you live in a small rural resort town, you find entertainment in the strangest of places during the off season. I found, early enough, that town hall meetings have all the elements of reality tv and then some.
That’s a close second to the town’s local business development meetings also known as LBD meetings. Last night, I accompanied my friend, Jill, to the LBD meeting spearheaded by the Town Mayor and Board. Those meetings tend to be more fascinating than town hall due to the ferkakta decisions that are made to spur business in our depressed community.
For nine months a year, we eat dust; three months a year we capitalize on what little we have to make money from the tourists, campers, Hasidim (only the boat rental agencies) and second-home owners – all who lord over us mere mortals.
It didn’t help any that Jill and I had a glass of wine prior to the meeting. Or perhaps it did. At any rate, an hour later I found myself seated in a crammed conference room directly behind the Mayor. The discussion centered on purchasing a six-passenger golf cart.
“We apportioned $9,000 to buy a golf cart,” crowed the Mayor. In this town, $9,000 is a lot of coin – it exceeds the gross income of 99% of local residents, including yours truly. “What we’ll do is transport people from the municipal parking lot to restaurant row.”
Restaurant row is a strip of a street on the lake where five restaurants are open three months for the summer crowd, four of which are pizzerias. You never know when you might have a desire to eat pizza in this town. The fifth, notably called “The Deathtrap” features gourmet cuisine or rather the shtetl variety at five-star prices. Then, we have the local bakery/cafe across the street that caters to the community, open twelve months a year, seven days a week. It’s not considered a viable threat to the seasonal restaurateurs for sadly, the bakery/cafe doesn’t serve pizza. The community has to wait for summer.
I nearly leapt out of my seat. “WHAT? The municipal parking lot is a hundred feet away! You can crawl to restaurant row. If the patrons can’t do that, why can’t the restaurants have valet parking?”
“Too dangerous,” said the Mayor without turning his head. I watched the nape of his neck turn bright red. “Besides, it’ll be a lot of fun.”
I muttered behind him, “No doubt for the Hasidim.”
The Hasidim flood the town three months a year, use the infrastructure (such as the restrooms in the restaurants, gas stations and stores), but remain apart from us as they’re a religious cult and can’t eat our food. The good part of being in a religious cult is that, unlike everyone else here, they don’t pay property taxes and are exempt from state and municipal sales tax. We should all be so lucky.
Through our property taxes, the town built a gazebo for the local inhabitants, yet occupied exclusively by the Hasidim. As is the lake for six days a week twelve hours a day through rental boats. Since the Hasidim don’t understand the rules of the water, there’ve been numerous accidents, bedlam and a few deaths. I’m scared shit of swimming as my head makes a good target.
There’s compensation for sitting on shore six days a week to those people who pay the punitive price of lakefront property taxes: they get to watch Hasidim in rental boats smashing against docks, boats, skiers, swimmers and each other. However, on the one day when they aren’t on the lake, everyone else goes out there in a frenzy to make up for lost time. Again, you risk life and limb should you even stick a toe in the water.
“No, Maura, it’s only for those people who intend to eat at the restaurants,” said the Mayor.
“We’ll see about that,” I said sotto voce only a few inches from his ears. “They may call it discrimination or even anti-Semitism.”
It’s been a bone of contention lately that anyone who criticizes the cult is automatically an anti-Semite. I like to call that, “Hasidiphobia,” based upon its counterpart, “Islamophobia,” an effective way to muzzle people by accusing them of prejudice and hatred so there won’t be any dissension.
One of the wiser Board members piped up, “We can decorate the golf cart and perhaps play music.”
“Klezmer,” I stage-whispered. The Mayor groaned.
He sat up straight and said, “We believe it’ll induce people to come to our lake as a tourist attraction.”
I said, “No doubt there’ll be a line of Hasidim down the street waiting for free rides.”
Jill punched me to shut up as the Mayor’s neck roll throbbed in red flashes.
“Wait!” I yelped. “If this is to help the restaurateurs, why don’t THEY PAY FOR THE GOLF CART?”
You can hear a pin drop.
The Mayor switched gears. “The only people who can drive the golf cart are local town officials due to insurance. This is on a volunteer basis.”
The next morning, sober, I bumped into one of the Board members. “Are you guys crazy? A GOLF CART?”
He laughed. “The worst case scenario is that we sell it.”
“If I see one Hasidim on it, I’ll impeach the Mayor.”
He shook his head. “You can bet they’re going to be on it.”
I just can’t wait for this summer. Something tells me it’s gonna be a doozy.
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Right after I posted this article, I bumped into a journalist for a tri-county newspaper.
“Did you hear what happened at the latest LBD meeting?” I asked.
“No, what happened this time?”
I recounted the golf cart story.
His jaw dropped. “You got to be kidding me. I just walked from the municipal parking lot. It took me less than eight seconds to get to restaurant row.”
Again, I really look forward to this summer.
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