This is my first attempt to express my feelings on the oil leak that has gripped my little slice of this great Earth. First of all let me set the record straight. It technically is not a spill, it is a leak. The media and others have referred to it as a leak, which is not the correct description of this tragedy. A spill is where one thing is holding another within itself. For example, a glass of red wine. Ideally you would attempt to put all of the wine in your gullet for the purposes of enjoying an adult beverage and maybe even getting hammered. Lets say that you are drinking your wine and you tip your glass just a bit too far and some of it falls out of the glass onto the white carpet. That is a spill. As for a leak, it is a totally different scenario. An example that I have seen personally is a pipe that bursts. One night from a night on the town, a friend and I encountered a sound of rushing water in the apartment adjacent to his. We kicked in the door to reveal a lot of gushing water leaking onto the floor of the apartment.
Now that the nomenclature is settled, let me tell you of a microcosm of the affects of this leak. I work at a locally owned convenience store on the beach. It has been there in the same location for 32 years and owned by the same man. Our store sells floats, souvenirs, groceries, beer, cokes and basic everyday things. Generally our store makes good money and is always busy during the summer months. Until two weeks ago, I was not working, however he called me back to work there. I had mentally prepared myself for busy days and nights, but what I encountered was far from it.
To call business slow would not do it justice. It is pathetic. I would say we are down 50%, but some days I think it is more than that. You may have a few customers here and there, but not at nearly the rate of customers you would experience on an average summers day. You sell more groceries than floats, more cokes than beach souvenirs, and more people dressed in jeans and work clothes than tourist in swim trunks, smelling like Coppertone.
According to co-workers, it has been like this since the leak was discovered. Numbers were off from Memorial day on. The week of July 4th, the busiest week of the year, we had some of our worst days. The owner looks despondent, employees wonder if the business will survive and all the talk revolves around the oil leak in the Gulf. Some customers come in and say how sad they are for us, some offer solutions and many offer blame for the problem. It is just sad.
I don't know who is to blame for this egregious disaster. Was it BP's or Transocean's fault? Who knows? Why wasn't the Federal Government involved sooner? Why didn't the President act sooner? There are many questions. There are not enough solutions which is the main area of frustration.
The talking heads on CNN, MSNBC, etc. all have their little spiel as to what is happening and who is to blame. Some of the problems from the tourism standpoint is from the media. When Anderson Cooper wants to rant and rave about people filming coverage of the sites where oil is washing up is he really upset about the Constitutional rights of his network? Or is he mad because an oiled bird may equal a bonus because of good ratings? They say they stand beside us, but do they really? Maybe if the media would just let the people work, more could get done. Now it is just another sad but true reality show for the media conglomerates to latch onto and exploit our area that is already suffering. Showing the globs of oil on the beach isn't going to encourage people to come here and enjoy our area. There are more things to do than sit on a beach and swim. We have local attractions that can take up a day or two of someones vacation. Also, the beaches aren't closed! They are open, but you cannot swim. 90% of the condominiums have nice pools to cool off in.
It is sad to see all of this. It has been a kick in the groin to our area. People are at their wits end about the situation. I heard it best from Jimmy Buffett, when I paraphrase, the people of this area are resilient. We have weathered many storms and while this one is different, we still have to have the same mentality. We will overcome this, one way or another.