Hot on the heels of this blog, I received news that the subject matter that inspired those musings has gone. Flown back to wherever he came from, presumably to vex the next set of people he graces with his annoying presence.
The news of his departure didn’t shock me, but it did get me thinking about what it takes to make a rock your long-term home. One filled with fun, friends and good times, anyway. I suppose you can always move to an island, alienate everybody and live like a hermit. A hermit with damn fine weather, but a friendless, reclusive hermit nonetheless. Sounds mildly depressing.
And all that musing resulted in three simple – and easy to follow – ideas on how to make friends in your new rock community. These are fairly common-sensical things, by the way. Stuff you should have learned in school.
But, alas, it seems some people skipped the lesson that day. Then they moved to my rock. Just my luck.
You may have been THE most __________________ (insert adjective here … some popular ones: rich, beautiful, successful, business savvy) individual from whence you came. Well done, you. I’m sure (cough, cough) you were an inspiration to someone. Besides your mother.
But telling everyone you meet on your new rock about how awesome you were back home is a sure-fire way to get the people who live in your new island home to consider you a total jerk. We. Just. Don’t. Care. Most island transplants left their previous lives behind precisely because they have zero interest in keeping up with the Joneses, being the “best” or building up their fragile egos by others telling them how amazing they are.
It is also a red flag to most of us that you probably weren’t quite so rich/successful/popular back home as you want us all to believe. After all, those who really did achieve stratospheric levels of achievement rarely leave all that fabulousness behind to sequester themselves away in a place that doesn’t care about that kind of stuff. Do they?
Also, if we’re being honest here, whoever you are bragging to is likely to actually BE more successful/rich/whatever than you, anyway. Many island folks you meet don’t tend to let on exactly what their backgrounds are, especially how much cash they might have. They drive beat up trucks (you know about island road potholes, right?), wear old clothes (island water and washing machines are destructive forces) and let their hair go wild (hello, humidity!).
These quiet, unassuming folks have already done the “fancy successful” schtick back home. They’re here to fly under the radar and chill.
You’d be wise to follow their example.
Don’t Be A Know-It-All
Ok, seriously. I already blogged about this. But it bears repeating. Just shut the hell up and observe before offering your opinion on things.
I was recently chatting with a fellow islander who is quite an accomplished sportswoman. She’s been around and doing her thing longer than many of the newbie arrivals have been alive. Still, one sunny day on the beach, some “helpful” new youngster attempted to tell this seasoned athlete exactly how “we do things” on this woman’s home beach. (We? Really? Do you have a mouse in your pocket or something?)
Let that sink in for a moment. On. The. Woman’s. Home. Beach. You know, the spot where she’s been doing her thing for 15 years. Of course, being the diplomatic soul that this person is, she gracefully smiled and thanked Ms. Clueless New Girl for her “advice.” But, as you can see, these stories tend to get around. And they don’t reflect positively on you if you happen to be the newbie character in the tale.
I wish this were an isolated incident, but alas it is not. New arrivals show up regularly, seemingly filled with an excess of ego and shortage of social skills. And as soon as one blowhard leaves (see above), another similar soul arrives to take his place. Complete with hipster lumberjack beard, ear spacer and bald head. *sigh*
If you really want to fit in, especially in the local scene for the activity you like to do, take a sensible approach and stay quiet and humble. At least until you understand the lay of the land and actually get to know people. If you want to be a dick after that, you’re on your own.
Don’t Be The Island Drunk
At least not when you first arrive. There’s time enough for that as your years on a rock wear you down.
Who cares if you always fly first class and drink them out of all their booze en route to the island? Besides violating the first rule above about NOT BRAGGING, you also happen to be a pitiful sight stumbling down the airplane steps in the harsh Caribbean light of day. Emphasized, of course, by you being the first one off the plane.
Same goes for Friday night happy hour or anytime you’re out in public, really. Go ahead and imbibe, we all do. But becoming the sloppy drunk, slurring her words as you tell us how fantastic/rich/wonderful you are is just plain pathetic. And you won’t age well, either.
There’s a time and a place for getting a good buzz on. Poolside in your own backyard is fine. So is the occasional (and I mean, occasional) beach party that involves lots of rum, a sunset and a bbq. (If anyone actually invites you to one.)
Ok, fine, indulge, then have your partner or friend drive your drunk ass home after they wake your passed out self up in the sand and drag you into their truck. The only one who will feel bad about this occasional excess is you the next morning.
But for the love of all that is holy (and your reputation), please don’t subject us to your drunken excess. Especially outside a local snack shop pounding back cold ones on a Tuesday before 10:00 in the morning. That’s just pitiful.
Okay…end of rant! Whew.
Now you may think these are pretty obvious tips. And they are. But there are still new arrivals who violate one, two or all three (heaven help those poor souls!) with alarming regularity.
But as one friend recently suggested, these folks were probably also unliked wherever they came from. They just don’t know better. They never learned how to make friends. Poor things.
So, alas, it seems likely these tips will fall on deaf ears. But, hey, I’m an eternal optimist (albeit, a sarcastic one), so I figured why not give it a shot?
I’m a writer living on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire. Originally from the U.S., I followed my heart to the tropics in 2011 at the wizened age of 43. Since then, I’ve been blogging to inspire and entertain. I love kitesurfing, a good gin & tonic, and corgis.
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