An Open Letter To The Hubristic High Society Hag Who Authored This Asinine Letter To The Editor: Young Struggling Families Aren’t The Problem In Chatham – You Are.
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I, like many people who have connections to Cape Cod, read your lovely steaming pile of dog poo and entitlement in the Cape Cod Chronicle recently. And, also, like many people, I have a lot to say about it. Unlike most people, though, I am a vulgar cunt with a decent audience. You probably don’t know who I am, or what I do here, because I imagine you don’t spend much time reading up on the opinions of the “common” people. By the time I’m through with you, you will know what we do here.
Out of touch, dusty old entitled twats like you are the reason the price of bread is so high on the Cape, and it’s not just as simple as sending off the untouchables to search for cake elsewhere. Let’s get something straight – you are not a fucking resident. “Summer residents” are just vacationers who could afford to buy property. You are a tourist. You stay in Chatham 3, maybe 4 months out of the year and pay property taxes. You come with your purchasing power for a few scant months, and then you leave. Do you even know what you are leaving behind when the winds blow colder and the streets go empty?
You leave behind a bustling seasonal economy that, every autumn, grinds to a halt. As the days get shorter and the nights colder, businesses shut down. The roads packed with bumper-to-bumper traffic clear out, until Chatham’s summer population of 25,000 dwindles to just 6,726 hardy souls. You speak as if living on the Cape year round is a privilege, yet you flee as soon as the summer’s warmth fades and the postcard perception darkens. The shores that glisten under the summer sun become frigid and unforgiving. The ocean is an ever present, looming force – the placid waves that lap the sand give way to temperamental winter storms that wield the potential to ravage homes and businesses. Jobs dwindle, yet housing remains exorbitantly expensive and hard to find. It’s not just low income families who can’t afford to live year round on the Cape anymore, it’s most families. And I know this all too well, Beverly. Because years ago I was forced out of Chatham, and completely off Cape. The reason is quite simple to understand. The reason is you. Your “seasonal residency” has driven the cost of living to nearly 87% higher than the national average, to the detriment of the very people who keep the town operating. When the warm glow of the summertime fades, and the busy tourist season dies off, what remains is a cold, harsh and isolated reality, softened by a tight knit community and often, booze. This life is not for the faint of heart, and those strong enough to live it are not deserving of such contempt.
The summer months that you have chosen to spend basking in the unspoiled beauty of the picturesque coastline are supported by the labors of the young families you so strongly oppose supporting. They pump your gas, serve your food, keep the roads you travel maintained. When an October squall rips through your vacant summer home, they are the people you call to pick up the pieces and repair the damage. They ensure you have running water and electricity. They man the stores you shop. The Cape is your vacation, but long after the last sunburned tourist crosses the Bridge, this is their life. And it’s not an easy life. It’s a life lived in the perpetual cycle of a summer of feast followed by a winter of famine, always at the mercy of the mercurial sea and her whims. The ocean shimmering under the brilliant red-orange glows of the eastern sunrise is breathtaking. The ocean swallowing half of your home, less so. Unlike you, Beverly, the families who brave this isolated peninsula 12 months out of the year have nowhere else to go. There is no plan B. The fishing industry that once sustained so many is all but deceased, destroyed by stringent industry regulations built to favor large companies over the small, local, generational fisherman who once thrived on Stage Harbor. You, along with so many other “seasonal residents”, leave nearly half of the housing stock dark and vacant for the majority of the year. That is why young families can’t afford to live in Chatham, and so many other towns on the Cape, without some serious municipal intervention. Why so much of the workforce is relegated to temporary housing, motel rooms, homelessness. Your letter amounts to criticizing the combustibility of gasoline as you watch your house burn with a book of matches in your hand. You are the problem. You have driven the cost of living to the point of crisis. How quickly you forget, as you scrutinize what you perceive to be a waste of the scant tax dollars you pay out to the town, that your vacations lie contingent on those young families still brave enough to try and stay. You think a childcare grant and affordable housing is a burden? What do you think will happen when more and more workers have to be brought over the bridge to provide the services the Cape demands? Do you somehow think the cost won’t be transferred to the consumer, to you? Think again. This isn’t the usual issue with poor wages and employment rate generally associated with the conversation about affordable housing and other social welfare. Families making $50k to $100k a year are being pushed off Cape due to the disproportionate increase in cost of living. You aren’t attacking lazy, entitled people who want to leave outside their own means. You are attacking hard working families whose means are being stretched thin due to no fault of their own.
You really want to nickel and dime the use of your “hard-earned dollars?” Please. Look at you.
Those children aren’t wanting for much, that’s abundantly clear. Do you really want to contend that you need what precious little you pay in taxes to the small town of Chatham for their childcare? How hard-earned are your dollars, really, Bev?
Have you ever woken up before dawn to brave the vast, freezing blackness of the open sea? Stood on your feet in a drafty, dank old shanty, baiting hooks for hours until your hands are chapped and bleeding and your clothes are covered in the slimy, gelatinous stench of dead skate? Have you ever lumped bundles of shingles up precarious staging swaying in the wind, to work on a roof under the hot, blaring sun? Waited on a endless stream of tables full of hungry diners, who feel you aren’t entitled to so much as help with childcare, for 12 hours at a time? Are you going to personally care for the aging population that dominates the Cape in it’s current condition, as their bodies break down and their minds fail? That is the life of the families you feel so undeserving of the minuscule paradigm shifts you so resent – appropriate childcare for the future workers they are raising. Affordable, safe and stable housing to go home to after a long day of keeping things up and running until the mood strikes you to travel to the beach once again. Honestly, Beverly, you don’t look like you’d know true hard work if it bit you in the rear. And good for you, to be so fortunate. Not everyone knows the level of privilege that drips off every word you wrote, permeates every professional and polished family portrait you so proudly display. Some people have to work, truly work, to survive. I am proud of my home, because it is a community of resilience, marked by generations of hard workers and indomitable spirits. These are not just struggling young families, they are struggling young families with 400 year old roots in the community. People who proudly preserve a culture and community unlike any other in the state. These are the people who protect exactly what draws hundreds of thousands of visitors per year in, year after year – a nostalgic time capsule seasoned by salt and sand; sweat and tears.
You asked why Chatham is on a different path than other communities in Massachusetts. The easy answer, Beverly, is because it is so different than other communities in Massachusetts. And if you can’t understand that, respect that, and be grateful to those strong enough to protect that, than maybe you should fucking summer in the Hamptons with the other crusty old elitist asshats.