Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 04/30/2023

We start with a startling change to a beloved product. We have this post: “This is a travesty. They’ll never taste the same. Look what they removed from the animal crackers…”

How do we react to such news? 

One islander says, “🤬mmit! If anything, I’d want EXTRA kangaroos! Hold the alligators, though. Those are gross.”

We also get nostalgic. “They don’t taste the same if they’re not in the little red box with the string handle” 

Others have an idea about how this came to pass. One person says, “The kangaroo machine must have malfunctioned on that batch lol.” 

Another guess: “Maybe they were bouncing and punching the other crackers into crumbs.”

We may never know why the kangaroos disappeared, but, if you bring me all your animal crackers, I promise to look through them for kangaroos as I methodically eat each animal in the pattern I’ve used since childhood- first head, then tail, then body. 

And speaking of missing animals, we have this rant:  “I Vote absolutely NOT for the wolves being brought to the island! Did anyone else read that article ?”

It’s an April fool’s article from The Loop, but in our defense, the world is so ridiculous, that nothing is obviously satire. Case in point, someone posted this comment-

“Do you really think you get a vote? Did we get a vote about the coyote planting?”

Yes, many islanders believe the coyotes were planted here. Some say they were brought by the government, be it Fish and Wildlife or I don’t know, the cops maybe? Others think it was regular people, hoping to cut down on the deer population or have something new to hunt. 

One person posts this helpful meme: 

Those are both puppies and I want to snuggle their little bitty snoots.

But the big drama of the week starts in a thread about elementary school drop-off.

We’ll start by setting the scene for those who don’t drop off kids at Chautauqua in the morning. 

You know how at the airport people don’t park, but instead drop off and pick up people by the curb in a sort of offloading zone/Indy 500 training ground? Cars are zooming through, cabs are weaving in and out, cars stop suddenly to disgorge passengers, and people step out into the road without looking as they pull heavy suitcases out, which topple over precariously into the road? You know how people stop in the middle of the road to hug and cry and say goodbye, or hello, or good riddance? 

That’s every morning at our elementary school. Cars pull up in the fire lane in front of the school, and, if someone is dropping a kid off at the back of the line, people will speed around and pull in front of them. Parents will hop out of cars to help kids and narrowly miss getting hit by a driver trying to get the best spot at the front of the line. Cars merge out of the drop-off lane just as other cars are swerving to take their place. 

The speed and chaos is a bit like a NASCAR pit stop, only it’s a hundred cars doing pit stops in the same 50 meter stretch, and it’s children changing the tires. 

So with that in mind, we have the following rant: 

“Is it wrong of me to be super annoyed at drop off time for Chautauqua, that people pull up and help their kids out of the car in the fast drop off lane?“

There are 152 comments. Most people agree that it’s better to park and help your child than to hop out into traffic in the drop-off lane. But about half of the comments are written by two people who believe, in their souls, that it is wrong to be annoyed. 

Because these people get a little heated,  the OP clarifies: “It’s just the whole front side wall is a huge mess every day. Cars parked on the edge, others trying to pass them to get closer to the entrance, others trying to leave… ugh”

What about this rant would bother someone so much that they would spend more time and words ragging on a stranger on the internet than I spend each week putting this column together? They want to know why the poster is driving her kids to school instead of sending them on the bus. 

One commenter also says, “The answer is ‘YES,’ your are wrong to be “super annoyed.” I hope you figure it out before you kid (s) pick up on your ‘tude. ‘Cause, It won’t fly well. Grow up.”

The poster kindly clarifies her situation: “ I live literally 2 minute drive away it’s more convenient to me to drop off.” 

The angry response from a commenter picked up on one word and wrung it for all the negative connotations it can hold; “So you’re two minutes away, and it’s still about your ‘convenience.’ Have I missed anything??”   

The commenter follows up with this woe-is-me story to clarify why convenience is the killer of character, which must be true, because she clearly has excellent character: “Todays parents, especially on Vashon, are executing privilege in that you are even home and are available to drop your kids off. I left my island home at 5:30 to get off the island to work. My 8 year old got herself up with her alarm clock at 7 and got to the BUS on her own. So, that you have to wait a couple extra minutes while a parent helps their kid get out of the car ahead of you, while your kid is chomping at the bit to jump out, doesn’t make me empathize. Chill out. Teach your kid patience by example.”

It sounds like it sucked for her when she was a parent of young children. People used to want the future to be better for younger generations, but when we have an advantage they didn’t, they get mad and call us spoiled. 

Giving your children a happy childhood without suffering shouldn’t be a privilege. It should be a right. And the fact that people in the past suffered doesn’t mean that everyone should suffer forever. 

Others point out how ridiculous the comments are. One says:  “When I was a kid, I had to walk a mile to school wearing shoes made from recycled car tires, carrying my lunch of a bean sandwich, wrapped in leaves and I think everyone should suffer, too, because it builds character. Check YOUR privilege and GET OFF MY GOSH-DARNED LAWN!!!”

Someone asked: “Did you really have to eat bean sandwiches wrapped in leaves or were they really wrapped in waxed paper?”

To which they replied: “y​​ou mean waxed paper like the entitled car-riding rich kids had??? Heck, no! Beans and leaves only- every day.”

I’m glad we can see the humor within the absurdity and word-vomit of negativity. 

The angry commenter digs in her heels and says, “I’m not judging you. I’m acknowledging your privilege. It’s like me getting free candy, then complaining about the kind of candy I got. That’s all. You chose this option, this morning frustration. You don’t have to. And you are complaining about other parents who are using their privilege. It’s just an interesting, privileged perspective you have.”

I’d like to take a moment to discuss something I always see in the comments section, namely, eisegesis. We all read our own ideas into what we read-there is no pure text and everything is filtered through our own understanding, experience, and biases. 

The commenters decided that OP, who must be a millennial due to the age of her children, is spoiled rotten, wants everything perfect, values only her own convenience, and has never suffered a day in her life. They are taking their own ideas, prejudices and biases and reading through that lens. They hold their own experience as the ultimate truth, despite the fact that so much of our culture and environment, not to mention school drop-off situations, have changed since their children were little. 

Then we get to my favorite part of any rants comment section – the quoting of laws. One commenter says, “According to WA state law, (RCW 46.61.687) a kid has to be 13 years to unbuckle themselves and bolt for a door. So why aren’t you complaining to McMurray?”

However, the law’s only mention of kids under 13 is this: “The driver of a vehicle transporting a child who is under thirteen years old shall transport the child in the back seat positions in the vehicle where it is practical to do so.”

Wouldn’t it be weird if you weren’t allowed to unbuckle yourself until you were 13? Imagine a child’s 13th birthday. You roll up to the synagogue for their Bat Mitzvah and say, “Today you officially become an adult. Not only can you read and interpret ancient Hebrew texts, but now you can finally unbuckle yourself.” In what world would that law make sense? 

It eventually degrades to name-calling. The commenter says,  “When your statement includes being held up – while others are ‘helping a kid out of a car?’ How do you slither your way out of your entitlement? Are you really that busy and banal? This isn’t even the worst thing the commenter says, but we don’t need to dig further. 

The poster kindly clarifies, “It isn’t my entitlement, it’s my anxiety of how unsafe the whole thing feels.“

One islander gives this sick burn:  “ So gratifying to see our community coming together to converse respectfully on issues and to find solutions for the common good. Especially wonderful to see experienced matriarchs reach a hand across the generations to share their helpful perspectives without judgment. It takes a village!! 😘” 

Another person gets to what might be the root of the problem: “Chautauqua parking lot was designed by the same firm that designed the IGA parking lot. Y’all do know the IGA parking lot is backwards? “ can a parking lot be backwards? 

Also, one parent deals with drop off in this creative manner: “My kids roll out at 15 mph.”

It’s not all terrible, though. Two high school friends reunite – one grew up here and joined the group to get a taste of the real Vashon to see if they want to move back and retire here. I’m really curious what they decide. 

In the end, one of the mean commenters invited the poster out for cocktails.

Wait, if I  get in a fight with someone on Facebook, will they buy me a drink? There’s only one way to find out. 

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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