Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 02/04/2023

We start with a thoughtful way to use art to beautify our island. We have a post that starts: 

They include snippets from an article about a mysterious artist in Venice Beach who is putting little flags in dog poop. They look like this: 

The original post included a full photo of the offending poops, but I will spare you those because I want the anonymous flag writer to know that I was raised correctly. 

This article is from the Guardian, a British newspaper that was awarded the prestigious Provider of the Year award in 2023 for its coverage of the environment and corruption, and which also covers local dog poop drama in Venice beach, California, apparently.

Other flags read: ‘Get therapy’ and  ‘Must be nice to be such a lazyass.’ I see why a prestigious newspaper is reporting on this deep and meaningful art form in a creative new medium. 

One person asks, “Are the flags biodegradable?” This is an interesting point. When the poo degrades, and someone comes across a faded flag calling them a lazyass, what will they think? 

One person tells us about this stunning waste of public resources: “I read an article last week about a city in Italy where they’re DNA testing every single dog so that if dog shit is left out, the police will criminally charge the owners 😂😂” 

I wonder whose job it is to walk around sampling street poop, testing it, matching it to a database, and then reporting to the police. Now that I think about it, that would be a kinda cool job. You get to walk around, and you’re searching for something, so you get that hit of dopamine when you see a poop just like when you’re playing Mario Brothers and you see a shiny gold coin. Then you go to a lab and put on a lab coat and do cool sciencey stuff. I changed my mind. My new life dream is to move to Italy and become a poop narc. 

Someone disagrees with my new utopia. They say, “ANOTHER reason I don’t live in Italy!”  Wait, what are the other reasons? You hate sunny weather and cute scooters and pasta? 

But one person gives the inevitable ominous comment: “as long as you pick up your dog’s shit you have nothing to worry about!” I don’t know. I may let my power corrupt me and pass false poop dna to the cops so they fine my enemies. 

One person sees the art from a different angle. They say: “Your playing in dog @#$% to prove a point?”

We have another breach of etiquette we need to discuss. Worse than leaving dog poop around is barging in on an online sale and trying to pull the rug out from under the buyer. We have this situation: 

By reading the comments I’ve gathered this information: a lovely doll house was offered for sale on one of the Vashon groups (notably not the Buy Nothing group) and this poster was the first to claim it. The other commenters came in saying ‘waa, no fair, do a drawing.” And now the first commenter isn’t sure if they’ll get the item they claimed. 

Note that the poster is annoyed at the behavior of the people in the comments, not the original seller, who is simply trying to sell a dollhouse and is now being told by a bunch of islanders that they need to make their life far more complicated by writing down the name of everyone who wants it, putting those names in a hat, pulling one out, finding that person’s contact info, and telling them they’ve won a dollhouse, rather than just giving their address and Venmo to the first person to respond, like God intended. 

So what is the online etiquette for selling items? It makes sense that it would be first-come-first-served like in an actual store. As one commenter said, “if you want people to compete to buy your thing, use ebay.”

While we’re here, we discuss all the other online behaviors that bug us. For example, one person says, “You know what gets *my* goat (and maybe falls under the same banner as entitlement), is when someone posts that they found a domesticated critter of some sort by the side of the road and immediately a half dozen people start volunteering to take it. Which would be really sweet, yeah, but maybe we should find their owner/guardian first? 🤷‍♀️

I also find that weird. You can just go to the Humane Society if you need an animal. If you adopt one that’s been on the street for a whopping 12 minutes, that’s not adopting, that’s dognapping. 

For example, we got this cat from the Humane Society, and now he keeps all our other animals in check. 

Another bugbear we share: “Or when someone posts something for sale and when you call for the address to pick it up they say “ oh my “relative” wanted it, so it’s not for sale now”!”

That does suck. Only sell something online if you’ve already tried to offload it on your friends and family and no one wants it. 

And possibly the most egregious: “I can’t stand when someone posts an ISO for something, someone comments with that thing offering to the original poster and some other person comes and asks for it.”

That is awful. It’s like if someone walked out of the Food Bank with a bag of groceries and you snatched the bag from them and ran. If you need the thing they asked for, wait a few days then put up your own  ISO post. 

Then we have this behavior:  “Also when someone posts an ISO in Buy Nothing and people “help” by offering places the item is sold instead of offering the item. We all know how to use websites and stores to purchase things, that’s not the point of the Buy Nothing group.”

I hate unsolicited online advice. People aren’t on the buy nothing group because they don’t understand a market economy and have never heard of Amazon. 

Besides all these behaviors, my biggest pet peeve is when someone writes a post that makes a valid point, and the first comment is someone correcting their spelling. 

We have this post: 

The first comment: “*brakes..”

This is not helpful. This correction does not help the flow of traffic. 

Then the other unhelpful comments are things like: “Seems like you’re the problem here. Big and slow = annoying as hell on the road.”

The poster takes it well and says, “I understand that! But unfortunately I do exist, and because I’m big, if you drive into my path it will be a BIG smash.”

Good for the poster for being magnanimous. I would have curled in a ball and cried because someone thinks I’m not suited for this world, and that people who want to illegally pass on the left while speeding are more important than me. Then I would fantasize about sneaking into the commenter’s yard and stealing samples of their dog feces, and when I hand them over to the Italian police, I would say I had found the world’s largest mound of diarrhea right in front of the precinct (stazione di polizia), and whoever owns this dog deserves the biggest fine. 

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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