Article from the 4/1/2016 Catalina Islander

Since I became "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber Of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel boats, I have answered 44,703 questions.
These are some of the more interesting/unusual questions/comments:
"Do you have your own coinage?"
"Do you have any 'Duty Free' shops?"
"You have so many cars and trucks on the Island, where is the bridge that connects Catalina to the mainland?"
"Look, some of the Islanders have painted their golf carts to look like sheriffs' cars!"
"Do your pay phones work to call the U. S.?"
 
"WHERE IN THE HECK ARE YOU!?!"
 
BROADSIDED!  Don't worry, not by a car, but an Islander!  Unless you write a weekly column for a newspaper, I don't think you can appreciate what it must feel like to stare at a blank internet screen and know that you have to come up with something original, educational, as well as entertaining for a VERY broad diverse readership!  I continually ask for feedback as I want to have a direction. Well, I definitely got what I had asked for last Saturday when I went to a store in Long Beach.  I happily found an Island couple there waiting along with me to seek assistance from a single clerk.  They were in front of me, but the gentleman felt it necessary to turn to me and bluntly say, "I certainly hope you don't tell her one of your long Catalina stories!"  WOW!!!  I must admit that I was stunned and didn't know how to respond. I certainly don't go up to strangers and share my stories that appear in the "Islander"!) I suddenly wondered how many others felt this way.  Well, I got my "feedback", alright, but not exactly what I was expected,  nor in this particular form or location.  One thing it did cause me to do was to decide to change my format for this week's column.  I am going to focus on observations that visitors have made to me while greeting the cruise ships and cross channel carriers and use the opportunity to hopefully set the record straight as to the status of Avalon and Catalina Island.
 
Before I begin, let me stand up for our approximately one million visitors a year, especially those coming over on cruise ship.  First, many of them have NEVER seen an ocean, let alone been on a cruise.  Although it only takes a little over 60 minutes to get here from the mainland, it takes the ships 14 hours.  They leave at 5pm and arrive at 7am.  WHY?  When asked what they do while floating out in International Waters, their responses are "drink, gamble, eat, buy, and party".  Enough said.  Besides, rushing them over in one hour is hardly a "cruise". After 14 hours they can and do imagine that they must have done some MAJOR traveling.
 
Yes, Catalina Island is surrounded by water and meets the ocean on all sides.
No, we don't have the Pacific Ocean on the Avalon side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side, nor is there salt water on the Avalon side and fresh water on the other side.  We are completely surrounded by the salty Pacific Ocean.
No, we are not part of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Alcatraz, a penal colony, a territory,or a principality with our own king,  but pay our allegiance to the United States.
Yes, we recognize and celebrate all of the holidays of the United States.
Yes, we are allowed to vote in elections.
We are NOT a floating island.  The chain between the Tuna Club and the Yacht Club as well as the palm trees and eucalyptus trees were NOT put here to help secure us firmly on the ocean floor.
You don't need to have your passport stamped here nor have your money exchanged to our currency. Your money is the same as our money.
We do not say "Aloha" nor "Mahalo", as we are not part of Hawaii, but California.  For that reason, we normally say "hello" and "hi".  The nearest point of land to us, Pales Verdes Peninsula, 18 miles away, is NOT one of the Hawaiian Islands.
Although we are separated by International Waters, we ARE part of Los Angeles Co. and the Long Beach School District.
Yes, we have California license plates on our cars, trucks, and golf carts, because we are part of California.
Yes, illegal aliens are allowed to visit Catalina.
Yes, English is spoken here and our newspapers and periodicals are printed in English.
Our "Downtown" Catalina Express boat goes to downtown Long Beach, not downtown Los Angeles.
No, this is NOT a duty free port.
We are on the same time zone as California.
You do NOT have to pay cell phone roaming charges.
 
Let's be honest with ourselves.  Before we judge our visitors too harshly with these strange and unusual questions and comments, any of us who have done any traveling at all MUST have asked questions or made comments that have caused the locals to think we were really ignorant, but had enough good manners not to make us feel bad about ourselves.  It is not only my job, but all of our responsibility, to make our guests feel welcome, which they are, and take the time to help them to learn more about our special island.
 
Please give me feedback as to your thoughts regarding my "long" Catalina stories compared to this format.  This is YOUR column, I write it with you in mind.  Tell me what you think!  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..