Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gator Tales


Back in 2007 there were rumors of an alligator in Lake Hartwell. Eventually one was supposedly killed and the rumors stopped.

Now the lake has different predators. For weeks we've had Monday-Friday visits from two ladies and "their" fifteen kids.

Day after day, they show up at the picnic and swim park where I volunteer workamp. It seems they are here by 10am and gone by 4pm. While they are here the two ladies sit in the shade of a picnic table and scream at the kids which are running wild. The kids scream a lot too. It's hard to tell if they are having fun or if their arm was just chopped off. Someone is always crying. One of the women is usually yelling at the crying kid too. It's pretty chaotic.

The ladies hand out snacks, drinks and sandwiches, which the kids eat everywhere, dropping the litter where ever they happen to be, on the bech, on the grass, at the playground, even in the swim area. They borrow all the free loaner life jackets to toss in the lake like toys though a few actually do wear them. Anything to prevent drownings is a huge plus.

All seem to be under 7 years old with some still in diapers but waddling around. Once gone, around 4pm, the group leaves behind our free loaner life jackets scattered far and wide, some floating in the lake, others in the mud or on the grass or at the beach area. The park is left littered with juice boxes, straws, snacks, wrappers, sandwich bags, diapers, handy wipes, water bottles, bottle tops and so on. I guess the two adults in charge of the children haven't the foggiest idea what all those strategically placed big trash barrels are for. Sometimes they drive off leaving used diapers on the ground right at the picnic table area. YUCKY POO!

So I started going down there around 3pm tidying up the rest of the park and watching this nightmare scene, debating about talking to them about their mess. At the picnic area where the two ladies are lounging, one with her feet propped up on their cooler, I see there is garbage all over the table, and strewn about the ground in every direction. No attempt has been made to reign it all in. The rest of the park where the kids are running, playing, screaming, laughing is covered in assorted garbage. I had this place spotless only a few hours ago. *Sigh*

I smile and say something silly like "Beautiful day!" About 3:30-ish one lady starts loading up the kids into the two mini-vans. I suspect they are running a summer daycare program and they've decided it's much easier to trash the park than to trash their home(s). They only appear Monday through Friday, spend the day here, trash the park, then leave. It seems like they would have to be non-stop pregnant with twins to produce this many children. Probably just a daycare scheme.

Once the kids are loaded up, the lady yells at the other woman to "Come on! Let's go! Kids are loaded up!"

But I guess me staring, smiling and walking about with my litter picker and my "Volunteer" tag on is making the other one a tad guilty. She actually cleans up about 80% of their garbage at the picnic table, while the other lady is yelling "Just leave the garbage! Let's go or we'll be late!"

Did I hear that right?  "Just LEAVE the garbage?"

Day after day I've seen the havoc they wreak on the park. Maybe the sun is getting to me. We provide plenty of garbage cans which maintenance empties daily. But they don't have time to chase down all the errant garbage, so I do this to help them out.

Next day, same scene. Huge mess at the picnic, playground and beach area, same two women, kids screaming, women screeching back at them, food scraps, snacks, wrappers, straws, juice boxes, bottles, assorted trash and even a few used diapers on the ground in the bushes. The park is a disaster again. The pristine garbage cans stand there unused.

Should I remind them that there is a fine for littering? Probably get laughed right out of the park too... Should I politely ask them to use the provided garbage cans? I was pondering various options about approaching this crazy problem including just saying nothing. I am just a volunteer, no use getting shot over a dirty diaper.

I guess you wonder why I am so wimpy, but in these days and times, a lot of folks are toting around concealed weapons. The permits in this state for same are ridiculously easy. This area is known for having a high rate of gun ownership. Sometimes you can see their weapon or see the bulge as some are not concealed very well. Sometimes you see folks overdressed on a hot day. It's sweltering but they are wearing a bulky jacket or a big heavy "lumpy" shirt. These are telltale signs they might be carrying a weapon, whether legal or not. I have NO idea what their mental state might be and if they are trigger happy.

While I am puttering around tidying up the park, thinking I should just keep my thoughts to myself, the cell phone rings. It has erratic reception. I am never sure if a call is dropped or if I am getting a hang-up phone call. Some folks who call wrong numbers forget to say a thing, they just hang up.

So when I answered the phone it was dead on the other end. But I was feeling feisty... so I speak into the phone loudly. I am pretty sure I was in earshot of the two women.

I guess my evil twin surfaced... Bad twin!

I spoke into the dead phone:
"What? An alligator? *pause* In the lake? *pause* You gotta be kidding me! *pause* Um, no, *giggle* haven't seen any gators around here! *pause* But I will keep an eye out and call you if I see one! *pause* OK, thanks for letting me know. Bye!"

After that "pretend call" I speed walk back up to my motorhome. carrying my litter picker, bucket and of course the doggy is with me on a leash. Behind me the women are snatching up children, loading up their vans. They drove at break neck speed out of the park.

I went back to the area to clean up their monumental mess. *Sigh*

Funny how they left two hours early. Oh well, their business not mine.

Well... um...

That was over two weeks ago. The park is much easier to keep clean now. Haven't seen a loaded diaper in weeks. Plenty of other people are using the park now, most of them are quite tidy, though some still have issues but for me keeping it clean again has been a breeze. I haven't seen the mini vans with two women and fifteen kids either.

Was it something I said?

Bad evil twin! Bad! Bad! Bad!


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