Only on Vashon – The Weekly Rundown 1/21/22

We start with a mom in the grocery store calling out a guy with his mask under his nose. Her baby can’t wear a mask, so she asked him to pull his up. He complied, but then minutes later, in the checkout line, he had it down again and stood too close to her. When she asked him to back up, he just laughed and didn’t budge.

What to do in cases like these?

Grocery store workers have tried calling the police to help them enforce their mask mandate, but the police don’t show up. 

So we give suggestions about what to do in situations that call for community policing / vigilante justice. 

One Thriftway employee asks if having a private security officer in the grocery store would help. They note the security guard would need self-defense training. 

Alternatively, we could scatter ninjas around the grocery store, so when someone pulls their mask down, a ninja pops out from between the Triscuits and saltines to solve the problem. 

One islander suggests bear spray. 

Another recommends “surrounding the miscreants, pointing at them, and chanting “Out! Out! Out,” until they either put on their masks properly or leave.”

As a person whose primary emotional reaction to existence is shame, this method would work on me. But there are people out there who feed on negative attention. This might just make the trolls stronger.

New method of law enforcement

We have this question, which generated a lot of discussion:  “Would love to know people’s thoughts on the “private road” claims many homeowners make about public roads.”

We spend a lot of time talking past each other, because we never define our terms. Some of us are talking about driveways, while others are talking about shared easements and yet others about paved roads. 

We digress from the topic at hand to share stories about properties we lived on. One property was so beautiful that strangers would trespass on it and ask the owners to make them coffee. We learn that in Virginia horse country, people would gallop through each other’s properties (by which I mean the horses would gallop) during fox hunting season. But none of that relates to the central philosophical issue:  What is a private road?  And who gets to decide if a road is private?

I read through over 120 comments, and I think I can condense the issue down to  this: 

A family lives along a road. They leave their house and walk along this road. Another person who lives on the same road comes out of their house and says that the portion of this paved road in front of his house is a private road and his neighbors can’t walk along it. 

So the family decides to look into this claim, but can’t access clear records from King County about where exactly, the public road ends and this supposedly private road begins. So they look up the legal definition of a private road, and it turns out it’s a pretty narrow and specific thing- a road that a person or group owns and can block off with a gate or barrier. 

Some islanders disagree with this definition. They propose alternative definitions. They say that if you maintain a road, then it’s your private road. But the original poster has thought through the ramifications of a broader definition. She points out that just because you maintain a road doesn’t mean you own it. If that were the case, anyone could maintain a patch of public land, claim ownership of it, then sell it or use it as collateral for a mortgage. (I found that last example weirdly specific. Has that happened before? )

Anyway, I picked up a piece of garbage from Vashon Highway, so I own the whole road now. If you want to drive on it, you need to pay me a toll.

Lastly, what weird Vashon specific dreams do you have? One islander shares this recurring dream with us:  “Sometimes I have a dream that I’m visiting Vashon, and stop by the Beachcomber—only to discover that they’re relying on me to get the paper published that week.”

I often dream that I’m in Thriftway and people are surrounding me, pointing and yelling, “Out! Out!” Just kidding. I really just dream about seeing the whales. 

Which reminds me, there’s a lovely article about Springer, the orphaned Northern Resident Orca who, at two years old, used to hang out around the Vashon ferry boat. People would feed her popcorn. She had a favorite stick, and rescuers used that stick to lure her in so they could listen to her calls until they recognized a specific call that told them which pod she came from. She was then relocated to her pod in Canadian waters. She’s now pregnant with her third calf. 

Basically what I dream every night
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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