Article from the 4/4/2015 Catalina Islander

Having reached the 22,251 mark of answering questions of the cruise ship and cross channel boat passengers on March 31, (I only started on March 2014!), I am often asked by Islanders, "Chuck, do you ever give the wrong information, by mistake, or are stumped on how to answer a question?" 
Regarding the first part of the question, I must admit "YES" and it bothers and haunts me when I do!  I can objectively say that it has probably only happened less than 25 times, but I usually try to refer the visitor to someone who can, if I find myself unable to answer correctly.  It is hard to keep track of what so many businesses, especially the new ones,  are doing and providing, but I try to learn and keep up on it.  Sorry to those who have been lead astray!
NOW, TO THE SECOND PART OF THE QUESTION!  Yes, there have been times when I have literally been "unable" or "afraid" to answer a question, as I don't want my personal feelings about the question reflect on the one asking it.  I am going to share with you three of the "most difficult" ones to answer and I would like to hear from you as to how you think I handled them and how YOU would have responded.
A couple of years ago I was doing "Security" at the Casino for an event.  An older woman was driving a golf cart with two older gentlemen in the back.  I was standing outside of the elevator entrance  As she was heading for the "Dive Park", she pulled over and asked, "Am I going the right way?"  "Where are you going?" I replied.  "I don't know." she said, with a smile on her face.  "Then your chances are 50-50 that you are going the right way."  She nodded and continued to the Park. About an hour as she drove back toward town, she stopped and with a bigger look of happiness said, "THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!"  She meant it!  WHAT DID I SAY OR DO TO HELP HER!  I was glad that she thought I had been of assistance, but I felt a bit strange as to her response.
I was answering questions on the Pleasure Pier, while the cruise ship tenders were coming in, as that was the customary location when I started last year.  I was standing opposite "Joe's Rent A Boat", when I noticed an elderly woman arguing with who later turned out to be her children and grandson.  After a while, she looked over my way, saw the (?) sign and said, "I will ask him, he will know the answer!"  I DO NOT LIKE TO GET CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF FAMILY ARGUMENTS!!!!!  She came over and informed me, "Over the internet, my grandson has set up a "Kayak Tour" for all of us."  Feeling relieved I responded, "That sounds GREAT!"  Then came the bombshell question, "He is trying to convince me that the kayaks go into the water!  They don't put kayaks in the ocean, do they!?!" 
I heard a good definition of "sarcasm" as "The mind's response to an OBVIOUS question!"  I could have said, "Of course, do you even know what a 'kayak' is?" but that would hurt her feelings and I could tell that she was a bit confused and upset.  My answer would have only made the problem worse!  I could have also said, "yes", but having this "set up" question answered with a simple "yes" would have caused my brain to explode and blood to pour out of my ears and nose!!!  I would have had to run into the "Men's Room" and hit my head on the wall!!  I realized that I had to be helpful, while being extremely diplomatic, and NOT hurt her feelings!  I had to think of all of this while I was having to "quickly" come up with a response.  I may go to hell for what I said, but I hope that when I come to the "Final Judgment" that God will let me have a "pass" on this, as it gave Him and the angles a good laugh.  Taking a gulp and looking sincerely at her, "We USED to have 'dry land kayaking", but it never caught on.  Yes, we are NOW putting them into the ocean in hopes that the response of this change might prove beneficial."  I WAITED!  She gave me a big smile and said "THANK YOU!"  She felt vindicated for her question and concerns and NOW had an answer she could live with.  She went back to her family and I can ONLY IMAGINE what they must of thought of "Mr. Answer Man" with THAT answer!
The FINAL and MOST unusual question (?) came about two months ago.  The cruise ship came in and two middle-aged women came up to me and one asked, "Do you know the laws and rules of Catalina Island?"  "I probably know most of them."  "Are there any "nude beaches" on the Island?"  "No, but some people do it anyway, in some of the remote areas of the Island."  "Are men allowed to take their shirts off when they go into the ocean?"  "Of course!"  "Are women allowed to removed their shirts when they are on the beach?"  "No."   "Why not!?!" she asked.  While I was trying to come up with a correct, but diplomatic way of explaining the situation to her, she took her sweater, and while she was pulling it back over her head, she abruptly asked, "WHAT ABOUT THESE!?!  Of course you know what I was EXPECTING, but of course, that would have been too easy!  She showed me her DOUBLE MASECTOMY!!!  As I stood there, trying to get my composure, she and her companion started into town.
As I said before, as of today, I have reached the 22,251 mark.  I think that 25,000 will be a landmark, so I am having a contest to find out who can guess the closest to the day and time when that momentus question will be asked and HOPEFLLY answered correctly.  Until "Memorial Weekend", I will generally only be "greeting" the cross channel boats and cruise ships on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, 7:30-11:30AM.  After that, I will be adding Fridays and Sundays.  I now have compiled a list of over 300 "unusual" comments and questions and when I reach this 25,000 mark, I plan to write a book.  To share in this "celebration", I am asking anyone/everyone who would like to compete for 10 signed books, once it is written (of course), to "guess" the exact date and time when this occurs.  To "sweeten the pot"., I will give one free signed books to all of those who guess incorrectly!  THERE WILL BE NO LOSERS.  The only rules are that you have send in your date/time no later than April 15 and you must send it to me by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US!  I hope I can last that long!