Summertime on the OBX brings new challenges for the local dweller. There are adjustments to be made. We rearrange our schedules, work on our smiles and feed our patience. There are places we can no longer go and vices we will temporarily give up because the work is long and hard. And we do it all in the name of someones vacation.
Along with making allowances in our daily lives, the young, single crowd become the Townies. Just like in the movie Mystic Pizza, folks will fall in love, long distance romance will be considered and hearts will eventually get broken. But sometimes true love prevails. You just never know!
So what is an Outer Banker to do in order to survive the summer?
First of all, eating out in your favorite restaurant may become a huge hassle. The lines are always out the door, no matter where you go, and the wait can be as much as an hour. Since I live here and can eat in my favorite restaurants in the beginning and ending of high season, I just eat at home in the summertime. Besides, why would I want to make someone here on their vacation wait another thirty minutes just so I can get a table?
Eating out with friends can be solved by planning dinner parties and barbecues at home too. A few tiki torches, a grill and a cooler full of iced cold beverages and you’re all set. And it gives you a chance to brush up on your hostessing skills!
Your schedule will need some radical readjustment. It helps if you think like a vacationer in order to time some visits perfectly.
We have something here called Changeover Days. These are days when the vacationer is either leaving the islands to go home, or they’re just arriving. These are two days we locals heed religiously because they can be the difference between getting somewhere quickly, or sitting in traffic for hours.
Changeover Days are Saturdays and Sundays. I know! The freaking weekend!
Going to the supermarket is a necessity. You have to go at least once, maybe twice a week. Never, ever plan your shopping trip on Changeover Day! You’re asking for trouble if you waltz into the market on those days because the aisles are packed and the checkout wait will melt your frozen foods. A few of the markets here start a 24 hour a day schedule after Memorial Day. Plan your shopping for a week night, late.
A trip down the bypass that used to take five minutes, will now be a thirty minute trip, easily. Leave early, no matter where you’re going. The bypass and the beach roads are always packed with cars.
There are exceptions to the rules. But remember that you have to think like a vacationer.
For instance, if you were on vacation, would you be going to the market at the crack of dawn? Or would you be sleeping in? Early mornings are great here because that is pretty much what every visitor is doing…sleeping. In the middle of the day is the best time to get your errands finished because everyone will be on the beach or out in the boat. And dinner is another great time slot because that’s usually when they’re all waiting to be seated at your favorite restaurant.
Keep in mind that this is an island, so things run out.
Last year I decided mid-season that I needed a new sand chair. I went to Walmart to pick one up and they had completely sold out.
My advice is to stock your pantry and your freezer and to buy items now that you might need this summer, like charcoal and sand chairs. Any item that a vacationer will purchase while on vacation is going to be in short supply during high season. Either buy it now, or live without it.
If your work involves dealing with the vacationer, then you know what it’s like to be slammed with business every single day. You go home exhausted, your feet hurt and, on occasion, you might deal with a frustrated vacationer that will yell at you. In the summertime it might behoove you to develop a mantra to recite in your head over and over again when the days get really tough.
“This won’t last forever. This winter there will be days when this shop is completely empty and I will wish for this many customers.”
You might also try to remember your own vacations. How would you want to be treated when you’re on vacation? Wouldn’t you want everyone to be polite and to treat you like they’re glad you came? Be courteous. Smile often. When someone asks for directions, give them the right ones. Let someone in ahead of you in line. Drive with care. And have a little summer romance if you’re so inclined!
The best thing about the Outer Banks in the summertime is that it becomes more fun! There are happy, sunburned people everywhere, the beaches are hopping and everything smells like coconut oil! It’s a party 24/7 and everyone is invited.
So don’t worry that your life might become a little bit more stressed, it’s only for the summer. Get out there and enjoy this feeling of joy while it lasts. If you make those adjustments and prepare yourself for a good time, you’ll be okay.
The true mark of a local is being able to survive an OBX summer. Once you’ve mastered one summer, the rest will be easy. Besides, see what you have to look forward to….