30 Aug 2011

Dude, Where’s My Car on Nantucket?

Dude, where's my car on Nantucket?

The 2000 cult classic movie starring Ashton Kutcher is the outrageous story of 2 teens who party a little too hard one night ending up in what they describe as a “chemically induced coma.”  This results in severe short term memory loss.  For those of us who live and work in Nantucket full time, August tends to place us in a similar state of mind best described as a “chaos induced coma.” All of the service industries work double time during this season, where one day runs into the next, minutes run into hours, morning becomes night and before you know it you are blurry eyed, disheveled and some days downright confused. What day is it? What time is that next appointment? Dude, where’s my car on Nantucket?

Downtown parking is a continual point of conversation on the island. Regardless of the varying ideas being circulated on how to improve the dilemma, one thing locals and visitors alike must contend with during the summer is where and how long to park their cars. There are some great options for those who don’t need access to their vehicles throughout the day; bikes, scooters, taxis or the local island shuttle system (NRTA). In the real estate business, we have no choice but to have our cars nearby. On a moment’s notice, a client can call or walk through the door wanting to see a house across the island. With the in-town parking zones set at 1 or 2 hours, we’ve all perfected the fine art of “musical cars.” We set our egg timers for the allotted time, race out the door as the buzzer sounds, hoping against hope to reach our autos before the chalk bearing men and women in gray clad uniform do.

Some days I look out from my 2nd story Main Street window and it looks like the opening scene from Chariots of Fire. Other real estate colleagues and local shop owners race against the clock to move their cars before receiving the dreaded orange parking ticket on their windshield. Many days we are victorious, but most of us have a little collection of the orange beasts indicating we weren’t quick enough off the starting block. My friend calls this the cost of doing business.

As cars get shuffled throughout the busy days, it’s very easy to get disoriented as you leave work in the evening. One night last week, my husband Dan and I walked out of our office, looked at each other and said, “where’s the car?” Neither of us had a clue…could not even remember which one of us had driven it last. We knew it couldn’t be far, so we devised a “divide and conquer strategy.” He would walk up Orange and down Fair. I would peruse Main Street, then cut across Federal and back down Center. We met 15 minutes later back where we started – no car. We sat down on the steps outside our office and began to laugh – a fine state of affairs. Were we really this old or had our chaotic life finally fried our brain cells? What to do now? We could concede and cab home. We could throw a fit, kick and scream and hope somebody would care. Or, we could simply find a way to make the best of it. “Queequeg’s or Ventuno’s,” Dan inquired with a grin? Ah yes, a little lite bite and a beverage (or 2) at one of Nantucket’s outdoor dining establishments would help the medicine go down.  

We slid onto a couple stools outside at Queequeg’s, befriended the outgoing bartender and array of other alfresco diners. Before the night was out, we had several new friends, 2 new client prospects and a delicious meal….and to think our original plan was to hop in the car and spend the night at home! As we were finishing dessert, Dan enthusiastically blurted out, “Winter Street!” Huh? He remembered he had moved the car to Winter Street late in the afternoon. Our new friends all whooped, hollered and raised their glasses in celebration – they could relate.

The next time life serves you a little “chaos induced coma” and you find yourself blurry eyed, run ragged or a bit overwhelmed, find a way to slow down and make the best of it. Or, as the lady on the GPS device says “recalibrate!” If you’re lucky enough to be on Nantucket when this phenomenon strikes, you have a myriad of options to choose from. Take a walk on the beach in Cisco, stop out to Madaket at sunset, sip a cup of java on a harbor-front bench at daybreak or slide onto a barstool at any one of Nantucket’s fine restaurants and make some new friends.

Enjoy the Journey!

Shellie Dunlap

Related Posts
  • 28 Jul 2011 Fine Dining on Nantucket Remember the Stouffer’s commercial from the 80’s where the husband sits in awe at the head of his beautifully adorned dining room table “So this is the dining room” he quips as his wife serves the Stouffer’s meal on the fine china. We all chuckled because we could relate. It seemed our days gathered around... Continue Reading
  • 07 Jun 2011 Down on Main Street Nantucket The beloved musician Bob Seger has a memory of his Main Street – “standing on the corner at midnight trying to get my courage up.” We all have a memory of Main Street somewhere don’t we Maybe it’s our hometown where grandma lives or just some quaint little community we passed through on our way... Continue Reading