Article from the 3/10/2017 Catalina Islander

Since becoming "Catalina's Official Greeter", March 10, 2014, when the Chamber of Commerce assigned me to greet the cruise ships and cross channel carriers, I have answered 64,006 questions.
WHAT ON CATALINA IS WORTH PRESERVING?  The Catalina Historical Society, which I am an officer, wants to know what the residents and visitors to Catalina feel is important enough to ensure its existence for future generations to enjoy.  Please list those structures that need to be protected and send your suggestions to me, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
REGISTER TO VOTE:  A day before Tuesday's "Los Angeles Co. Special Election", I reminded a young friend of mine, who had turned 18 a few months ago, about the election.  I was informed that he didn't register to vote!  When asked, "Why not?", his answer was, "Not too big on things like that."  WHAT!?!  I "calmly" reminded him that up until the 26 Amendment to the "U. S. Constitution", which was ratified on July 1, 1971, MANY THOUSANDS of young men, and women, had been drafted at 18 and died in service to this country, without being able to vote concerning the issues and those who made these decisions.  What he didn't know was that while I was waiting to be able to vote for the first time when I was 21 in 1968 (O.K., I AM OLD), I was working with my local Congressman to do the research needed to get this amendment passed. This was during the Vietnam War and thousands of young men, including friends, had died without the ability to vote.  Funny, regarding this magical age of 18.  You MUST register with the "Draft", immediately on turning 18, no questions asked.  Yet this relatively newly franchised voting block, 18-21, has always been one of the lowest to turn out to the polls. REGISTERING FOR BOTH SHOULD  BE DONE AUTOMATICALLY, I believe.  SORRY FOR THE BANDWAGON!!
 
"HAPPY THIRD ANNIVERSARY"!
Hard to believe that today,  March 10, represents my third anniversary of working for the Catalina Island Chamber Of Commerce allowing me the honor of representing Catalina Island to those visitors coming to our shores. Although this position had been in existence years before, most notably by "Duke" Fishman, it hadn't really taken hold since the cruise ships first started visiting Catalina in the 1980's.  With two "Carnival Ships" coming each week, starting January, 2014, it was deemed important that we show them that we GREATLY appreciate their patronage to our Island paradise and hope that they, and some of the other 11 cruise lines that they own, will also come our way.  IMPORTANT REVENUE!  By the way, for those concerned that these ships don't help the hotels/restaurants, studies have shown that approximately 5% of those who come on these short cruises return to spend a weekend or longer.  EVERYONE BENEFITS FROM THEM!
I see my job as four fold:  1) Greet the visitors to show we truly appreciate their coming, 2) Answer their questions so that they feel empowered to enjoy their stay, 3) Help them to most expediently enjoy what Catalina has to offer and, 4) Free up local businesses from having to stop transacting their business activities to answer question and inquiries.
64,006 questions and needs answered!!!  Honestly, when I first started out, I thought that there was NO WAY that I would be able to answer even 1000!  My record for number answered in 4 hours period, 240 minutes, is 266!  That means MORE than one a minute for 4 straight hours!  This record has now been repeated 3 times!   Even "Mr. Know It All" is smart enough to realize he DOESN'T KNOW IT ALL, but hopefully knows who to refer them to who does!  With my rough calculations, that means I have "Greeted" approximately 640,000 visitors. I have said, "Welcome To Catalina Island!  I'm With The Chamber Of Commerce.  If You Have Any Questions Or Needs, I Will Be More Than Happy To Help You!" approximately 48,000 times!  Some have suggested that I record this message and simply push a button!  NEVER AS LONG AS I HAVE THE STRENGTH TO UTTER THESE WORDS!  I have handed out approximately 32,000 maps.  I have used EVERY tool in my repertoire to communicate with every language, accent, and dialect imaginable. 
For the sake of brevity (I CAN HEAR MY EDITOR, DIXIE, SCREAMING FOR JOY AS SHE DIDN'T THINK I KNEW WHAT THE WORD MEANT!!!), I am going to share some of the most asked requests, but will only give my response.  It won't take a "Sherlock Holmes" to deduce the questions (visitors coming to Catalina for the first time might glean some understanding from these answers):
"There are three golf cart rental facilities, let me point them out to you." (Almost EVERY OTHER QUESTION).
"Yes, Catalina Island is surrounded by water."
"Yes, we are part of the United States, California, and even though we are separated by approximately 22 miles, Los Angeles Co.".
"Yes, we have our own school, K-12, approximately 675 students, and are part of the Long Beach School District".
"Yes, we have a hospital and a bank."
"Yes, most Islanders speak English."
"Yes, we GLADLY accept American Currency and you don't have to get your money exchanged."
"You don't need your passport stamped here."
"Yes, people are allowed to die here."
"No, we are not a penal colony.  We can come and go as we wish."
"No, most of us live and work here.  Only a very few travel back and forth daily from the Mainland."
"No, there is no bridge or tunnel connecting us to the Mainland."
"No, the Island isn't floating and the palm trees were not planted to hold us to the ocean floor."
"No, we don't have to go to the Mainland to get our groceries.  We have two Vons grocery stores."
"Yes, we produce our own electric power and generate our own water supply."
"No, the only "blow hole" on the Island is me!"
"No, I don't just stand here yelling at people, I get paid to help."
"No, we do not put chlorine in the ocean to make the water so clear or dye to make it so blue."
"Yes, the 4PM boat generally leaves at 4PM and from the same location where it arrived."
"Yes, Avalon is an incorporated town with a Mayor, City Council, and faces ALL the headaches and problems that other towns do."
"We have no pollution or crime to speak of."
"Yes, we are at the same sea level as Long Beach."
"No, we will NEVER get so many visitors on the Island that it threatens to tip over."
"The reason it took the cruise ship 14 hours to get here from Long Beach is because one hour is hardly a cruise."
"No, I am NOT the King, President, or Emperor of Catalina Island."
"IF I knew the winning lottery numbers, do you think I would be here answering these questions.  PROBABLY, but with a much better sign!"
I CAN'T imagine a better job ANYWHERE!  Don't tell my boss, Jim, but I would probably do it for nothing, but nothing doesn't pay the bills.  I would even LOVE to put in more hours!
I get more hand shakes, hugs and kisses for doing my job than probably any other occupation on the Island.
I have been informed that I will soon be given a job evaluation by the Chamber.   Let's hope that I am celebrating my 4th Anniversary on March 10, 2018!
(To contact me directly, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.m.  To revisit some of my past columns, www.catalinaislandman.com).