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Dear Ms. Feet,

I was one of those longtime locals who goofed and got stuck on the wrong side of the causeway the first Saturday of spring break hell week. The three hours I spent in traffic waiting to get home gave me plenty of time to ponder this spring break thing and - quite frankly - I don't like it. I know spring break lines the pockets of a few business owners, but it seems to me that the rest of us are paying the price. I would guess that you are in a line of business that does not directly benefit from this annual influx of monsters -- am I right?

Well first of all, shame on you for not knowing that you never ever leave the island during Texas week - unless of course it is to go far away to someplace lovely and exotic or you just enjoy sitting in your vehicle creating gas fumes and listening to Geoff Clifton's bad jokes on the radio (just kidding, Geoff!) A real longtime local would know to stock up at Walmart and H.E.B. the week before and run only the most necessary of errands in the early morning hours.

That being said, let me add that I feel your pain. I too hate the traffic and the noise and the annual invasion of my favorite local hangouts -- and the garbage wafting on the afternoon breeze throughout the town and littering our beautiful beaches sickens me to my very soul. Amazin' Walter and I recently did a sand castle job in Miami.... during Superbowl weekend, of all times. Imagine spring break hell week times three. It was a rewarding experience (financially speaking) but if that is the future of SPI, I want no part of it. Too damn hard to get to the beach.

It seems that every year at this time a lot of residents start wondering if we need spring break at all - if we aren't just chasing the Winter Texans and vacationing families away. This is a valid question, but I fear the ones asking it don't really have a handle on the impact these kids and their parents' money have on our economy. As a builder of sand castles and web-sites, it is true that the breakers are not lining up to give me money. However, the condo rental agencies for which I design web pages and the corporate sponsors who want their logos carved in sand - well, they are. This allows me to pay my rent and patronize local businesses long after the breakers leave.... which in turn helps keep these businesses open year round. Anyone else here remember when the convenience stores closed up for the winter? I do -- and it was most - er, inconvenient. Lose spring break and no telling what else goes with it.

I had an interesting chat with Irish Pub Kelly the other day. He was remembering one of the first spring breaks, when all the waitresses and waiters walked out of Las Ventanas because the kids who descended on the place were rude, obnoxious and lousy tippers. While a percentage of today's breakers may still fit in the rude and obnoxious categories, by all reports their sophistication on tipping etiquette has improved immensely over the years. And for a service-fuelled economy, this is very good news indeed.

Sorry, but I think SPI needs spring break -- as much as the spring breakers need SPI -- and we should continue to do everything in our power to make them and anyone else who loves the beach feel welcome here.

Dear sandy,

I hear you got invited back to Italy to compete in a sand sculpture contest again this summer.... congratulations! Can I carry your bags for you?

The first couple of times I got asked this question I just sorta laughed it off. Ha Ha. But the requests just keep coming in and when it started looking like I will be doing the train thing and may be forced to tote my own bags all over Rome, Pompeii, Venice etc., the idea of acquiring a bag handler began to gain some appeal. So then I got thinking on what kind of attributes I would look for in a bag handler and as a result am ready to post the following criteria for the benefit of all future inquirers:

  1. must be male (sorry if this appears sexist but it is just a personal preference thing)
  2. must have good physique (because you will have to tote your own luggage as well as mine)
  3. fluency in Italian a plus!
  4. must have cheerful disposition and be willing to defend my luggage with life if necessary
  5. must have enough cash/credit to pay airfare, meals and one half of lodging fees

If this describes you, contact me immediately and prepare for a June 2nd departure. If you find my criteria eliminates you, please note that I may still have an opening for a qualified dog sitter....

Feet's Totally Non-Scientific Just For Fun Net Poll Results: My latest question dealt with -- what else? spring break: what do you hate most about it? And the results are: "The fact that it ends" - 29 (69%); "The traffic" - 5 (11.9%); "The noise" - 4 (9.5%); and "Everything" - 4 (9.5%). I guess it is no big surprise that "The bikinis" didn't get a single vote.... Thanks to the 42 people who participated in this poll.

Sandy Asks: The subject of my current question focuses on a topic near and dear to my heart -- the annual SandCastle Days Competition - which is in very real danger of not occurring this year: Will you miss it? Do you think that the money the town allocates to it would be better spent elsewhere? Would you be willing to serve on the committee? Vote today at http://spionline.com/polls.html .

One more thing: I have started an e-mail address directory for Island Locals (past, present and future) at http://spionline.com/directory.html. If you would like to communicate with people who live here, used to live here, hope to live here, or just visit frequently, please surf on over and fill out a short form.... thanks!

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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