Article from the 8/11/2017 Catalina Islander

"UNUSUAL/INTERESTING QUESTIONS/COMMENTS CONCERNING CATALINA ISLAND" (additional one, www.catalinaislandman.com):
Outside "Coney Island West" snack bar, "Can't believe they don't have breakfast burritos.  After all, THIS IS MEXICO!"
Sitting at a bar on Crescent Ave., "How high above 'Sea Level' are we?"  Bar tender looks out the window, "About 8 feet."
"Is Catalina Island a 'Minimum Detention' facility?"
"I know that Islanders have their own boat and schedule just for them.  When does the last one leave for the Mainland?"
"Can 'Islanders' leave Catalina whenever they want to?"
 
Please say a prayer and keep positive thoughts for "Dive Dry", Dr. Bill Bushing.
 
"Mr. Ning's Chinese Restaurant" is now planning to leave a month earlier, September 30.  GET THERE WHILE YOU STILL HAVE TIME!
 
Follow-up to my last column, "Be The Change You Want To See In Avalon", August 4, 2017 (this and all of my past columns, www.catalinaislandman.com).  I saw a stranger who was carrying grocery bags up Whittley and I asked him if he needed a ride.  He looked at me strangely, but got in and asked if he knew me.  I told him no, but introduced myself.  He said that he was new to Catalina  and was driving his company car by someone he didn't know a few days before, but didn't offer him a ride, and wanted to know if giving rides to strangers was appropriate in Avalon.  Told him YES and encouraged him to "pass forward" what I did for him to the next person he sees.  He left with a BIG SMILE!
We also need more night life, both adult and family friendly, and full-fledged inside gym, a complete youth/senior center in Avalon to make it more Islander/visitor enjoyable.
 
"CATALINA IS NO 'DISNEYLAND'!"
 
I have been conducting tours on the Island for over 20 years and dealing directly with the visitors for much longer.  Unlike "Disneyland", you don't put on your "character" mask for your eight hour shift and then get in a car, drive home, and be your "real self".  Your "real self" had better be the one you show t visitors because you can't leave it on the job and go home.  When I worked at "Disneyland" in the '60's (YES, I AM OLD), it was called a "stage" and the visitors were called "guests".  Well, when you work on Catalina, you are "on stage" from the moment  you leave your home in the morning, until you return in the evening.  Anytime you are in the "public eye", you are "on" and you had better not disappoint your "guests".  Many a time I have been so tired after a full day of tours and was looking forward to getting on the cross channel boat, getting a much deserved/needed nap, and going to the mainland to visit family/friends or just wanting to be somewhere that I wasn't recognized and could just chill.  NOT!  What often happens when I get on the boat, I am immediately "greeted" with, "THERE'S CHUCK!  Please come sit with us, because my friends weren't able to go on your tour today and I want them to hear all the details!" or "Chuck, I never told you about my days at camp on the island when I was a kid!" and then proceed to share non-stop the entire trip over.  This happened one time when I was with the long-time friend, Tony Dow, who played "Wally" on the iconic television classic, "Leave It To Beaver" going over with him and his beautiful wife, Laurin.  The visitor didn't recognize Tony so he just SMILED, being used to this type of "celebrity worship" and took a much deserved nap, while I sat attentively hearing the LONG, DRAWN OUT story.  In these cases, do I tell them that I am too tired to listen to them, I am "off the clock", or do I just take a deep breath and continue to be "Chuck, The Tour Guide"?  You guessed it, the later!
I have news for anyone who wants to work on Catalina and be in contact with our visitors who, by the way, bring their hard earned dollars over to us, which guarantees that we are able to live here in "Paradise"!  We are here for THEM!  Very simply, "NEVER let your guard down!"  Watch how you act when you are seen coming out of bars and TRY not to smoke about our guests.  Many people resent it and some are even allergic. 
On the other hand, Catalina does share some things with "Disneyland".  Catalina is a place where "Dreams Come True"!  I have had three different families tell me that they purchased homes on the Island after hearing me conduct my "Casino Walking Tour"; one individual who now devotes MANY HOURS volunteering to the "Conservancy" because of a lecture she heard me once give; and one friend even moved to Catalina, even though she had never been here, because of a PBS special on Catalina that I appeared in!  Why did they all make these major changes in their lives?  BECAUSE I LOVE CATALINA AND I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT IT AND IT SHOWS!  Luckily, I don't have to worry too much about my work and private personas, as they are pretty much the SAME!  If you plan on "performing" and it is a different person than you are when you are "off", you had better be a GOOD ACTOR!
This can also follow you away from Catalina.  I was once in Palm Springs for a concert that "The Four Preps" were doing and I was having dinner with my great friend, Bruce Belland, who wrote "26 Miles" and his wife, Simone.  I was sitting across the table from them and someone came from behind and started tapping my shoulder.  Sure that they wanted to get closer to Bruce and get his autograph, I moved my chair to the side.  Once again the taps and I moved even further.  Finally, the third time, I turned around the politely told them that I couldn't get further out of the way than this.  They looked bewildered as they told me that they wanted to talk to ME, as they had been on my Casino Tour the week before.  He was from Russia and she was from Germany and they wanted to share with me that they were on their honeymoon!  Bruce smiled graciously, knowing that this was my "time in the sun"!
It is not always easy, but when you get someone coming up to you, which often happens, and says "Chuck, you probably don't remember me, but I and my family were one of your tours 15 years ago and you made us love Catalina so much, because of  your enthusiasm, that we STILL talk about it and return every year!"  You will know then that you are made to do tours on Catalina!
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