I wish I could tell you what he said to her.  It would be a better story if I could. You’ll have to forgive me this one.  It happened 14 years ago, which is unbelievable but true, and while that summer 14 years ago was memorable for many reasons, his particular words were not one of them.  But it will suffice for the purposes of the scene if I tell you that he was an unfairly dissatisfied customer and he was taking it out on my coworker rather rudely.

She, of course, being an experienced professional, handled the situation as best as it could be handled.  He left, not happy, but no longer yelling.  She took a deep breath and slid her hand under the counter where she kept something for these very occasions.  She pulled out a Cujo mask, glued onto a popsicle stick for easy handling, and held it up in front of her face.  She leaned over the counter towards me and yelled out at the top of her lungs: “AUGUST PEOPLLLLEEEE!”


This weekend is Labor Day weekend.  Traditionally, it marks the beginning of the end of tourist season.    And not a moment too soon, really.

Living in an area that’s heavily touristed gives you a perspective on human nature that’s pretty much unbeatable.  People on vacation are weird.  They are tense, yell-y, and unfathomably sick of each other.  They are frustrated because they don’t know where anything is, they are annoyed that they have to spend so much money, and, despite living in an age when every town is completely Googleable, they didn’t bother to look up the sights and now they have no idea what to do with themselves.  It’s true of everyone who visits our state, but the tourists of August are especially evil.

I don’t know why August People are the way they are.  It’s just true.  Anyone who has spent a summer working in this area knows its true.  Theories include:

They are on a vacation they cannot afford.

It is the height of the season, so everything is crowded and expensive.

Their children have now been out of school for two months and that family time that seemed so welcome in June is now…not.

Some combination of all of the above.

All I know is that August people can really suck the joy out of a day.

I’ve paid my dues with August People.  I’ve scooped ice cream; I’ve folded t-shirts; I’ve sold tickets.  I’ve given directions; I’ve explained the weather; I’ve made restaurant suggestions.  I’ve been yelled at; I’ve been hung up on; I’ve given math lessons to people who don’t believe I really did give them the 10% off that they were due.  I’ve been cursed at in French, had conversations via handwritten notes with the deaf, and attempted to demonstrate “seasickness patch” via pantomime.  Even now, when nothing that I do for a living is at all related to the tourist industry, I still spend a lot of time directing the lost, consulting on the best way to manage the take out line, and explaining for the 753rd time exactly what it is that lobster buoys are.  Hint: they are not merely decorative.

[Oh, stop it. You do too know.]

[FINE. They mark the location of a string of traps so the lobstermen know where they dropped their gear and each lobsterman has his/her own unique colors that are registered with the  state and I am NOT SAYING IT AGAIN.]


August is a long month, is the point.  We were having a little family walk through town one afternoon and we ran into a friend who was outside taking a breather before opening up his restaurant for the night.  “How’s August?” I asked, probably a little too jovially.  “August is terrible,” he replied, shaking his head.  “There is nothing good about August.”

So now it’s September, Labor Day weekend, and soon the August People will have taken their cranky, lost, perennially dissatisfied selves back home, where I can only hope their lighter, happier sides take over.  The fall is still busy with cruise ships and the more sedate crowd known fondly as the Newly Weds and Nearly Deads, who will keep coming in reduced waves through the end of foliage season.  There will still be days when the crowds make me twitchy and impatient and, of course, we haven’t even hit full-on RV season and its accompanying road rage.  But for now, I invite you to take a moment and wave with me as we say good-bye to that crowd that can bring out the Cujo in the best of us: the August People.