Letter to the Editor

August 3, 2011

The Island Connection: The Newspaper for Kiawah, Seabrook, and Bohicket Marina

Letters to the Editor

[Editor's note: Points 4–8 from Mr. Daniel’s letter were cut for brevity; we do not believe this has altered his original intent.]

Dear editors,

First of all, thank you for your time. I know time is a valuable resource and I appreciate you spending that resource on me—a regular Joe living in Kiawah Island, South Carolina. (Actually, my name is not Joe, but it is Jack. Jack Daniel. [Yes, like the whiskey, although that Jack Daniel is of no relation, which is unfortunate for my pocketbook and dwindling stock portfolio, especially in this crumbling economy. I am a high school teacher and one of the highest paid of my Daniel family.])

Second, I am extremely concerned about the sale of seashells at the Kiawah Island, South Carolina, beach by a man who goes by the name of Herberto (or Humberto [difficult to tell with his accent]) and is about forty years old (give or take [also difficult to tell]). (Trust me when I say this is not a race issue and that I would be equally upset if the seashell seller was named D’Wayne, Chang, or Dustin. [I actually witnessed a “Tony” selling beach towels in the summer of 2009, but he promptly left after I threatened to call the authorities and has not since returned {to the best of my knowledge.}].)

The sale of seashells on Kiawah beach is disturbing on multiple levels and problematic for many reasons.

ONE: It is illegal. I’ve done my homework. The only beach vendors allowed are those who have obtained licenses and Herberto (Humberto, possibly) has not been able to produce a license any of the seven times I have requested one. (This could be because he doesn’t fully comprehend English, though that could easily be a front to avoid the pressing matter at hand—his flagrant disregard for law and order. [Once again, this is not a matter of race or ethnicity, and I am most definitely not referring to anything regarding immigration. I have no knowledge of Herberto’s [perhaps Humberto’s] immigration status or personal history and, quite frankly, have no interest in it whatsoever.)

TWO: The police are turning a blind eye to this illegality. Each and every time (seven times, for the record) Herberto (or Humberto) failed to produce a license to sell items on the beach I called the police. Only twice out of the seven times did they bother to actually travel to the beach in person—once because I called 9-1-1 and referred to Herberto (alternately, Humberto) as a “disturbing and unpredictable character near the southwest end of the boardwalk who made me feel very uneasy” and the second time because I citizen’s-arrested Herberto (Humberto, if he prefers) by pinning him down in the sand, and an elderly (though very good-looking for her age and estimated amount of lifetime sun exposure) woman called because she mistook my citizen’s arrest for an assault. On both of these occasions, once the police arrived at the beach they thoroughly failed to do their job and left without issuing any arrests or writing any citations (to Herberto/Humberto, that is. I received a citation for the citizen’s arrest, which I will fight tooth and nail and write about in a subsequent letter after my court date).

THREE: It doesn’t even make sense. There are seashells available to anyone, for free, on the beach. Picking some up and selling them is no more logical than plucking leaves off of trees and selling them to people walking through a forest. Id-i-otic.

[Editor’s note: Points 4–8 edited for space.]

You might be thinking Yes, but people buy the shells. There is a market for them, which means they have value. To that I answer “Wrong!” Despite having a year-round address in a so-called “Red State” (not that it is necessarily relevant, but curious readers should know I am a property owner [not that non-property owners are lesser beings, of course {though some might argue they would not have as much (i.e., hundreds of thousands of dollars) at stake when it comes to matters of the area such as this}]), I would like it to be known that I regularly vote Democrat and I do believe that, on occasion, people must be protected from themselves.

Once again, looking for logic in the situation, your mind might assume that these seashells are difficult to find on the beach, or that Herberto (Humberto, possibly, but I think I distinctly heard the first “r” last time I spoke with him) has picked only the best and most glistening. Wrong and wrong. These seashells are everywhere. People buy them fifty feet from where they pick them up off of the beach themselves! Some shells that he sells are broken in half, dirty, or have jagged edges. I should know. Ever since June 12th of this year (2011) I have been buying as many seashells from Herberto (/Humberto) as I can afford (which is not many on a teacher’s salary [not that I am implying teachers are not paid enough {we are paid enough to provide ourselves food and shelter, but not to buy seashells on a daily basis from a man on the beach (whom, I might add, has raised his prices thrice since June 12th of this year)}]), and they are not of a good quality. I have bought them so as to return them to where they belong—the beach. After a few weeks I had a sneaking suspicion that Herberto (Humberto, that rascal) was re-selling me the same exact seashells I had previously bought and freed, so I began marking them with a dot of nail polish (initially I tried “permanent” marker but, by my use of quotation marks, you should be able to imagine how well that turned out).

I was right. Herberto was selling me seashells that he had already sold me. I was being suckered twice, thrice, or even four times. I will never know. Does this not perfectly exemplify what is wrong with this country? First there was 9-11, then FEMA’s laughable response to Hurricane Katrina, now the Occupy Wall Street movement in reaction to corporate indecency. We Kiawahans might think these national issues have no connection to us, but they do. They do. What do all three have in common? Unlawful behavior and a complete lack of respect for Americans because of a narrow fixation on one’s own self-interest. We spend hours focusing on these issues when there is a perfect example of unlawful behavior in our own backyard. Tell me that doesn’t give you the chills. Ignore this, and who knows what illegal, self-interested behavior will crop up next!

I am well aware that this newspaper covers more than Kiawah, but I do not want my comrades in Seabrook to think my letter doesn’t pertain to them. I do not have reason to believe this man (Herberto/Humberto [if either of those is even his real name]) or his friends or relatives have begun selling seashells in some sort of franchise operation at nearby beaches, but it would not surprise me if they do soon. Please, neighbors to the south, west, and all over the world, please keep your eyes open. If you see something, say something. If saying something doesn’t do anything, say it again, more loudly, to someone else. We will not lose.

Sincerely,

Jack Daniel (the teacher)

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