In early April a story appeared in Business Insider: “How NOT to Behave in 12 Countries Around the World”. Water was still freezing in Travvy’s outside water dish, but the spring spruce-up was already under way at down-island shops and restaurants. What a brilliant idea, thought I, and immediately started soliciting suggestions from fellow year-round Vineyarders on how not to behave on Martha’s Vineyard. Here’s a sample.
Many, many responses had to do with motor vehicles.
- “If you drive a Hummer (or similar), you will bring out the worst in us. We think you look ridiculous and no, we are not impressed.”
- “We profile cars with NY, NJ, and CT license plates, so be on your best behavior. Park sensibly and don’t run down anybody in a crosswalk.” Cautionary note: Bad Parking on MV is a very popular Facebook group. It currently has 855 members. The idea is to take photos of inappropriately parked vehicles and post them on Facebook. The Bad Parking Paparazzi are everywhere.
- “Never toot your horn! There’s is no reason to toot your horn on Martha’s Vineyard.”
- “Please learn how to disable the car alarm on your rental before it goes off and you’re fumbling and blustered, or miles away from the car. Better yet — who is going to steal it? Don’t even set it.”
- “Don’t set the alarm when your vehicle is on the ferry’s freight deck. They’re always having to page people whose alarms are going off. Seriously, who’s going to steal your car off the boat?”
- “This is not Disneyland. We drive on these roads!”
Courteous pedestrian behavior is also appreciated:
“Sidewalks are not mosh pits. When walking two, three, or four abreast on a sidewalk, please notice the person walking singly, head-on, trying to pass, and step aside for them. Please don’t walk into them.”
. . . As is courtesy to the environment:
- “Even if it’s customary to discard rubbish on the beach and in the street in your country, it’s reviled here. Don’t do it, ever.”
- “RECYCLING IS A WAY OF LIFE HERE.”
. . . And consideration for the people who wait on you in shops and restaurants, and for all the Vineyarders trying to go about their lives:
- “Tipping in restaurants is mandatory.”
- “Martha’s Vineyard is not a theme park. Treat us like humans, dammit. In stores, look us in the eye and say ‘thank you.’ Take the change from our hand to your hand, don’t expect us to put it on the counter so you don’t have to touch us. When on the roads, look at your speedometer and then drive half that fast. DON’T BE IN A HURRY! You are, ostensibly, on vacation.”
- “READ the sign. Don’t just ‘look’ at it; read it. All of it. Questions? Read it again.”
- “Respect that you have the finances and time to come to the island and enjoy it. Think about the islanders that work 24/7 to make this beautiful home a place for you to vacation. Be blessed to have an islander help you, but again respect the fact that because you are here does not make you deserve to be treated any different. Respect is earned as well as given. Be blessed.”
- “Don’t name drop, either your name or somebody else’s. Your good behavior is far more important to us than ‘who’ you are or who you know. Be who you are and let us accept you for just that. Don’t cut in line. Don’t compare us to where you’ve been or where you come from.”
- “We don’t care HOW you do it in New York.”
- “Be courteous, polite, thoughtful, aware that you are visiting someone’s home. Be joyful, and have fun.”