Islander's Blog

Goodman’s Gam

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Scallopers aren’t having much trouble finding their five-box limits these days, though with poor poundage per bushel and far lower prices the season will be a struggle (I&M story here). One scalloper said that due to lower yields they have to pay openers more per pound.

With that in mind, one has to admit it is a living compared to what many in the trades are facing. At least they have some income to help pay their bills. Most carpenters, painters and others in the construction industry have little or no work ahead of them.

Once winter is at an end, many homeowners will suddenly decide to have work done on their summer abodes. Then they’ll be in a rush to get it completed. It might be nice if they’d start thinking about what needs to be done now. This is the time when workers are able to perform their tasks without a schedule that forces them to work overtime and try to beat the clock, as it were.

Even in good years, too many people wait until the last minute, and then call on island contractors for repairs on their house. If you’re in one of the building trades, you know the drill. A job postponed results in no job at all. Take too much work, or have a schedule that gets fouled up for whatever reason, and angry phone calls will come your direction. No matter how well you plan, something trips you up.

A carpenter/contractor spoke to me the other day regarding the no-work situation for the upcoming winter. His idea was to try and convince 50 well-heeled homeowners to each spend $25,000 fixing up their houses. Repaint them, new shingles, a rebuilt deck. These are make-work projects, but they’re needed on many houses every couple of years. That work would help dozens of Nantucket workers scrape through the lean times and spruce up a number of summer homes.

Now there’s more Federal Street post office news. I asked our postmaster about the railing and he said he thought it was the original. When queried about the door not appearing to be tailored to handicapped people, he told me it was. His belief was that the ramp up to the door made it handicap accessible.

I said it didn’t seem that anyone in a wheelchair could possibly open up the door while trying to enter the portal at the same time. The postmaster’s reply was to ask if I’d like to file a complaint, and if so it should be addressed to the folks in Providence (R.I.). Whether or not the decision was made in Providence, shouldn’t the postmaster have some idea of what’s happening in his own fiefdom?

This was a typical “it’s not my job syndrome” that is frighteningly common these days. If you’re going to do something, at least do it to the best of your abilities. And the United States Postal Service is going down the tubes. On the other hand, the majority of people working in all of our local POs are excellent at their jobs.

While speaking about doing a job well, I’m looking at the shrink that allegedly shot and killed over three dozen people at Fort Hood. How does a doctor with a poor rating get a promotion to major? A raise for mediocrity is insane, but then so was the doc.

I was proud to see our congressman, Bill Delahunt, voted nay on a U.S. House vote on a resolution congratulating the New York Yankees on their World Series victory. Mr. Delahunt said that as a lifelong Red Sox Nation fan he couldn’t bring himself to vote for it.

The Nantucket Junior Miss competition takes place this Saturday at the Mary P. Walker Auditorium (Nantucket High School). This is always a great evening for the audience, as well as the contestants. I especially like to watch the children in attendance, because they get so excited watching the festivities. Its good entertainment and the kids know the young women on stage from seeing them in school or around town.

Contestants have a chance to show off their talent and brains, while vying for scholarship money to help defray college expenses. The doors are open by 6:30 pm and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, and are available at The Hub, the High School front desk, and if any are left, at the door.

While this fall has been full of precipitation, along with some early chilly days, we’ve had some days that have really stood out. Last Saturday, Sunday and Monday were bright and warm. On Saturday a friend and I went fishing in Sesachacha Pond. In the process, we waded at least a quarter of a mile in waist-deep water. It was my first time fishing since early July, and the day was nearly perfect.

Another entity who’s opposed to the Nantucket Sound wind farm is the Steamship Authority. They’re against the collection of steel posts, complete with fans on top, as they would pose problems for their ships for “navigational safety reasons.”

I should have posted this last week. I’d like to apologize to veterans and those servicemen and women now serving our country for my tardiness in congratulating their service to all of us. Whether or not you believe in what we’re doing in Iraq or Afghanistan, the members of the armed services deserve our respect each and every day, not just one day each November.
– “Goodman’s Gam” appears weekly at www.discovernantucket.com, and monthly in The Inquirer and Mirror.

7 Responses to “Goodman’s Gam”

  1. Greg Garber Says:

    Glad to hear you’re back on the water, David!

    Something I’ve had on my mind for years about our Postal Service…back in the day, the postal worker who delivered the mail to our mailbox at my childhood home was always impeccably dressed in uniform. People in that line of work were as respected as public safety officers. These days, working as I do in an urban area, I notice postal workers dressed like slobs, often on their cellphones, yelling at their significant others. Is it symptomatic of the times, given that postal workers deliver little else other than bills and ad promotions?

  2. David Says:

    I don’t care what postal workers look like, just do the job efficiently and everything will be fine. No cellphones, no gift shops behind the counter and attention to detail is the way to go. They could turn a profit if it was run like a business. **David**

  3. Rita McPhee-Fusco Says:

    David,

    I apologize ahead of time, as I am going to ramble on here…
    This has been on MY mind for years.
    Reading your blog today (with mention of the contractors work opportunities being down) triggered me to respond.
    Here’s a view from the other side.

    As a 30 yr. visitor to Nantucket and a former homeowner (if you can call 400 Sq. Ft. a home) I am very saddened about what has happened to the island.
    We bought our little cottage in the late 90′s and I thought we would never leave.
    It was our dream to spend our retirement years there, full time.
    We needed the income to support the debt service so offered summer rentals.
    As frequent fall, spring and winter visitors, we got to see, and came to love, the ‘real’ island.
    The soul of Nantucket is strong, it’s people are good. Community spirit…well, I don’t have to tell YOU!
    I have always suggested to first time visitors, if you want to see the true Nantucket, go in the OFF season!
    Too bad you’ve lost so many good families, indeed!

    OK, now for some not so nice truths:
    Guess what? It isn’t just the ‘outsiders’ looking for easy money.
    We had caregivers/housecleaners that would charge $300 for Saturday turnovers, (400 Sq. Ft!) and my neighbor would let me know the ‘cleaning’ crew stayed 10 minutes, (leaving their child in a hot car) shook out (rather than washed) the sheets, etc.
    We are not ‘rich’ people so yes, this was a big deal. I was not willing to give my guests a sub-standard ‘take it or leave it’ kind of experience.
    Our rental rates were the best on the island; and the location great for visitors.
    It was our goal to give ‘regular’ people and families, the opportunity to experience Nantucket without having to take out a second mortgage.
    (Like it used to be…Hardy’s, the Seven Seas…where can the kids get a deal for their dollar now?)
    We did not have a vacancy in the summer for 5 years running… eventually, it became clear, that Nantucket was no longer a place for the ‘regular guy’, and we sold the cottage to one of our summer guests.
    I got tired of the fight:
    Sometimes, the turnover help just plain no showed.
    We had a (small) hedge trimmed; charged $300+.
    When we had the cottage re-shingled, the contractor never showed as promised, and did not complete the work (as promised) before our tenant was due to arrive.
    The completed job was sub-standard, though the fee was not.
    And for the privilege of one of Nantucket’s contractors giving you the time of day in the good ‘ole cash flow days, we had a huge mess to clean up.
    Every friend I have on the Island has had multiple problems with contractors and ‘caretakers’.
    If we lived closer ( and I didn’t have a full time Nursing job) I would have gladly done all the cleaning/turnover work myself.

    Too bad the island is in such decline…reminds me of how I first found it in the 70′s.
    I can remember houses on the Cliff, boarded up, deteriorating.
    I have not been back to ACK in 2 years…it is still a place that tugs (and will always) at my heart, and I will get back soon.
    Everything goes in cycles, (like the fish!) and I hope Nantucket will find the road back.
    On my last visit, I opened the door to the Tap Room and saw it was gutted. UGH!
    That did it for me!
    I always said when they got rid of the Tap Room, Pharmacy/Soda Fountain, it would be time to leave.
    We didn’t wait that long… change was in the air and it was not a positive vibe.

    I miss Nantucket very much and wish her and her people well.
    she is tired; tired of being pillaged and abused, but she WILL come back…she always has.

    Thanks for listening!
    Rita McPhee-Fusco
    New Castle, N.H.

  4. Greg Garber Says:

    Rita……bravo! As a former year-round resident and homeowner, I witnessed much of what you related during my three-year residency. It was absurd indeed. Yet no other place on Earth occupies my thoughts more. I may even make an appearance during Christmas Stroll (save the editorial, David), my first visit on-island in eight years…..

  5. Glenn Speer Says:

    A few thoughts on Rita’s letter. Not all the apples on a tree are sour. Not all the contractors, house cleaners, plumbers, painters, electrictions are/have been out to fleece you. Rental property always demands extra care as the use is more intense. A turnover is time critical. I am in no way condoning shoddy work or taking advantage of a situation.
    As a year round tradesman here for 27 years, I am always aware I am as good as my last job, not a job I did 8 years ago. I learned early on to answer my phone and return calls. This last item seems to be a lost art here. Be honest with your billing and your client. You will get repeat work and word of mouth is a great way to get more work.
    The Island has really changed in the last 10 years. Competition for work right now is very tight. Last week I was speaking to a local businesswoman about the flat economy and ahe said to count the amount of “year around housing” ads in the Inky. There were 36 or 38 ads where there used to be just a few. Many families have had to leave due to no work. It is sad to see, but it will turn around and those who can stick it out honestly will survive.

  6. Rita McPhee-Fusco Says:

    Glenn,
    You are so right, and it wasn’t my intention to paint all contractors/caretakers with a broad brush.
    I apologize to anyone I may have offended.
    Keep returning those phone calls…I can’t tell you how many people thanked me for returning calls even when we were booked up…seems a lot of folks neglected common courtesy practices when times were good.
    People DO remember; it is your best marketing tool, as I’m sure you have experienced, with new and repeat business.
    Best of luck to you and beautiful Nantucket in the coming year.

    Take Care,
    R.M.F.

  7. Leslie Linsley Says:

    We absolutely don’t need more commercial business, retail or otherwise at the foot of Main St. Businesses in town are having a hard enough time with such a short season and inflated costs of doing business. Extending retail space will just bring more off island concerns to the island. Why is it that every organization feels we much keep growing? When is it enough? Why don’t we just keep making what we have function better? Too many organizations set impossible goals and then announce that they fell short of what they had hoped to achieve. Lower your sights and stop making everyone feel as though we didn’t do enough when everyone is stretched to the limit as it is.

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