To: Larry Vaughn, Town Mayor, Amity
From: Town Planning, Amity
Subject: Reopening the Beach
So glad you came to Town Planning for advice on how we open Amity’s beach in time for the holiday weekend! I know people think we are a bunch of weirdos and misfits down here, but blue ocean thinking is exactly what we do!
Let me cut to the chase, Larry. Your instincts are great. The best. And the fellas in Finance are right, too. We have to get the beach open again, whatever the scientists say about that Shark.
Ice cream parlours, diners and motels depend on it. Rent and rates holidays have gone down well with members of the local Rotary Club, but they’ve gotten used to it pretty fast and now spend pretty much all day drinking beer in their front yards. That’s a slippy slope right there, and it leads to wearing black pyjamas and marching behind a red flag.
There’s an ugly mood in town. The sun may be out, but people are getting angsty. They are tired of the TV and bored with the, uh, boardwalk. Every billboard in town has a shark fin sprayed on it, and Chief Brodie can’t stop all the college kids skinny-dipping at night. Says he hasn’t got the manpower, and can’t swim (yeah, sure, Brodie!)
It gets worse: take a look out your window. That’s Old Ted with the pitchfork on the steps of the Town Hall, wearing his Grandpa’s confederate flag and waving a cereal box sign that says ‘FREEDOM TO DROWN!’ Though I hear Ted can’t swim either, so he never goes in the water.
Whatever; his protest is attracting a lot of attention. He made the front page last week, so now the Moonies from upstate bring him jugs of Kool-Aid each morning, and the Aryan Brotherhood is grilling bratwurst for passers-by.
No, this situation calls for some clear thinking. And we don’t mind muddying that clear blue water to shake things up down here in Planning. That’s what we do. So don’t get mad when I ask…
Is a shark REALLY killing all these people? Maybe this is the work of a man-made fish instead? A machine straight out of the movies which looks just like the real thing? We all know the first attacks took place further round the coast. A robot shark is just the sort of sneakiness those guys would bring to our beach and ruin our economy.
Woah! Maybe these unfortunate incidents didn’t involve tuna steak OR a chunk of tin? Dick Speakman has been putting up posters all over town about that new undersea cable the phone people have laid across the bay. He says the water around it gets so hot it boils, and even the smaller fish stay away like something is spooking them. Swears the radiation from that cable hurts a man so bad he would mistake it for a Lion’s bite…
Whatever. You came to Planning for help with your town meeting tonight, and here it is!
- Quit giving out the shark death comparison figures. Who needs to know how neighbouring towns are doing? Just how accurate are their numbers, anyhow? Most of those towns can’t even read and write. And are we sure all those corpses in Amity’s morgue have shark bites? Maybe it’s surf rash? I may not be a medical man, but you and I both know these experts have been wrong before.
- REOPEN THE BEACHES! This is not a point of view we came to lightly, or immediately. No Sir. We started with a blank sheet of paper around 9.00 am. Then we thought about opening up the beaches to everyone except young people, as kids are the ones that go swimming and get ‘bitten’ by ‘sharks’, right? But Finance reminded us that young people buy all the ice cream, eat in the diners and fill the motel rooms. So we figured we need them back in the water. And then we wrote ‘Open the beaches’, PERIOD, on that piece of paper. At 10.00 am, just in time for coffee.
- Knowing how you like things ‘just so’, I took the liberty of running our ideas past Marketing, and they came up with a sign that will help folk understand the new rules. Instead of BEACH CLOSED, the sign now says BEACH OPEN? They say the question mark is important. Over a few drinks in Draper’s last night the guys explained how it’s all about changing perceptions. Smart stuff!
Oh. One other thing. Legal says other beach resorts remind bathers to stay alert and whatnot. May help? With that and our new sign, Legal says we can open the beach and still have enough room to alter course on the good ship Cal-Amity — sorry, Planning joke! — if people are dumb enough to ignore advice and go into the water.
They can’t say they weren’t warned!