My husband and I rarely gripe about anything, considering we are so “lucky we live Kauai” and that our choices of work and experience, and serendipity, have combined to bring us to where we are today. Generally, we try not to take locked positions on any subject, and to explore all sides of a situation. When things are not easy, we go for the “agree to disagree” approach.
There are so many people who are better and braver than we are — people we look to as our role models and heroes — and we have a long way to go to achieve Nirvana. But practice really does help. At this kupuna age we have reached, we have had multiple occasions to practice, and it’s easier now to try to follow that old saying, “Smile, and the world smiles with you.”
However, there are things in everyday life that do “get” to us — if not to the point of annoyance, then at least for a snide comment or two and a laugh. It’s probably good that we don’t hesitate to share them. We let off steam; we avoid stewing over them.
Our latest — the Long’s Drugs’ automatic calls (actually, the caller) — is the stimulus for this column. While the phoned reminders are helpful, Dee and I so hoped — and keep hoping — that whoever makes these recordings might get the pronunciation of our town and highway names closer to right. (That might be said for the central U.S. Postal Service’s “canned” messages relating to Hawaii locations, too.)
Never mind. I guess someone who has had her first name changed to “Dan” or “Don” and paired with a married surname spelled as a desert (Kalahari) on junk mail not once but multiple times can slide the sand dunes of name-murdering. And I concede that it does take some special focus and practice to say all the interesting names that crop up in Hawaii, Hawaiian language and otherwise, correctly. (Try reading a roster of names in a classroom with Spanish names that have come in via the Philippines. One has to forget every rule learned in classroom Spanish relating to double l’s equaling “y,” and j’s and some g’s equaling “h” sounds. For example, “Bonilla” rhymes with vanilla, and “Jorge” stays at one syllable, instead of two.
This is far from gripping. Griping, too. However, it is not long since Election Day, and the media headlines are still bringing us promises. Plus news hours and news pages continue to simmer and flame with subjects such as our endangered watershed, coral reef disease, tax bills, county lawsuits, GMO worries, spring water sold for commercial profit, the impact of pregnant dairy cows in quantity in beautiful Mahaulepu, thoughts of exhuming the Superferry, hunting dogs on the loose and dangerous, and more. These are more than gripes, being worthy of capital letters as Real Issues.
We’ll stay with the gripes (not all minor ones, and not in order of importance). I’ll add that we have some hope of having some of these rectified. Our combined list:
w Potholes so deep that when you find them by accident on a dark night, you lose your front wheel cover, never found to date in a jungly area bordering lower Olohena Road;
w Big Horking Truck drivers who tail-gate you until you pull off in the first available stretch of Kuamoo Road after the Opaekaa Falls area;
w Irresponsible dog owners who do not carry disposable bags for their pets while walking them in subdivisions, or on walkways and well-used trails;
w People who don’t care about endangered anything;
w Thieves who think it is OK to steal other people’s property, no matter the reason;
w Extremists — any subject;
w Store clerks who react with surprise when a customer says “Aloha” and expects eye contact and some measure of polite greeting in return;
w Clerks and servers who leave a live customer on hold for a phone customer or personal call;
w Wrong number callers who hang up without a word;
w Callers who time their pitches or surveys for dinner hour;
w Kids and grown-ups who are disrespectful and clueless about good manners;
w Kids who hate school and think learning is a waste of time;
w People who hate music, or think music is noise turned up full-blast;
w Anyone who is wasteful of water suitable for drinking, or good food;
w Beach-goers who shake their sandy mats or towels downwind from you;
w People who deface (your) books;
w People who insist on calling green anole lizards “geckos” (more on that before long).
So there, you have it to this moment. These are things we can’t fix across the board, but can try to address and negotiate on a one-to-one basis either in person, or via letters, or action as volunteers or members of consciousness-raising groups. That goes for all Big and Real Issues, too.
I’m sure there are some I’ve forgotten in the heat of getting this copy flashed in to my editor on time. (One of his pet peeves, I’m guessing, is when columnists are late.) Last, I dedicate this column to one of my friends named Jim who thinks I never venture an opinion in the Green Flash.
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, regularly instructs on the topics of history and Hawaiian culture for visitors to Kauai through Hawaii Pacific University’s “Road Scholar” program through Pacific Islands Institute. The writer is completing her second memoir, based on Colonial and pre-Independence Burma. She continues to run her TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations–Kauai as part of DAWN Enterprises.