If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

October Interviews

10/07 M.E. Browning, Shadow Ridge

10/14 Alexia Gordon

10/21 Adam Meyer

10/28 Barbara Ross, Jane Darrowfield and the Madwoman Next Door

October Guest Bloggers

10/03 Kathleen Kalb

10/17 S. Lee Manning

10/31 Sharon Dean

WWK Weekend Bloggers

10/10 Jennifer J. Chow

10/24 Kait Carson


For The Love Of Lobster Tales by Shari Randall is now available to download free for a limited time. Go to Black Cat Mysteries at: https://bcmystery.com/ to get your free copy! Thanks for the freebie, Shari.

Keenan Powell recently signed with agent Amy Collins of Talcott Notch. Congratulations, Keenan!

KM Rockwood's "Secrets To The Grave" will appear in the new SinC Chesapeake Chapter's new anthology Invitation To Murder, which will be released by Wildside Press on 10/6.

Congratulations to our two Silver Falchion Finalists Connie Berry and Debra Goldstein!

Paula Gail Benson's "Cosway's Confidence" placed second and Debra Goldstein's "Wabbit's Carat" received Honorable Mention in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2020 short story contest. Congratulations, Paula and Debra!

Susan Van Kirk's Three May Keep A Secret has been republished by Harlequinn's Worldwide Mystery. The WWK interview about the book can be accessed here. We're so glad another publisher picked up this series.

KM Rockwood's "Burning Desire," and Paula Gail Benson's "Living One's Own Truth," have been published in the anthology Heartbreaks & Half-truths. Congratulations to all of the WWK writers.

Please join Margaret S. Hamilton's Kings River Life podcast of her short story "Busted at the Book Sale" here. Congratulations, Margaret!


Monday, August 1, 2016

Tourists Behaving Badly

by Shari Randall

Ahh, Hawaii!
When I began my trip to Hawaii, I had certain expectations: beautiful beaches, volcanoes, delicious tropical fruits, men twirling batons tipped with fire. I saw all these things plus something I never expected and hope I never see again.

Now, I'll admit, I'm not the world's most perfect traveler. Waiters in Korea came running with a fork when they saw my struggles with chopsticks. In Dubrovnik, I wasn't really shopping for souvenirs like I told my husband, but was in the bathroom for ten minutes trying to figure out how to flush the toilet.

This is why I have a soft spot for travelers. Not everything translates. Not everything is obvious, especially to the jet-lagged.
A great photo of my finger at the top of Diamond Head  (sigh)
But the tourist misbehavior I witnessed this week went beyond befuddlement with local custom and language and veered right into Darwin Awards territory - and maybe something even darker.
Not familiar with the Darwin Awards? They're given to recognize the horrifyingly dumb and fatal way some folks remove themselves from the gene pool. After what I saw on Diamond Head and Makapu'u I think it's no accident that Darwin was on an island when he came up with his theory.
Diamond Head's majestic mountain profile rises high over Waikiki. It's a magnet for tourists so I found myself huffing up the trail of the extinct volcano with hundreds of others eager for the spectacular view at the top. Signs posted on the ascent warn hikers to stay on the path to protect the fragile ecosystem and themselves from a slip on the sandy lava rock. Visitors are warned away from the military bunkers that jut precariously over sheer cliff faces. Signs are posted in the simplest language. DANGER. STAY OFF.
Yet at the top, a dozen young men clambered on top of a crumbling bunker hundreds of feet over the Pacific, selfie sticks held high, as they filmed videos of themselves. Photos are so 2010. Now one must post video, complete with thumping soundtrack, as you spoil the view for your fellow visitors.
So maybe these guys couldn't read English? They all spoke it from what I could hear. Perhaps they didn't see the signs? There were plenty. And besides, these guys ignored the biggest signs of all: They clambered over chest-high chain link fences to access these fragile areas.

I know, I know. You kids, get off my lawn! But I think there's more to it than just my inner curmudgeon expressing herself.
The thing, the darker thing, I saw?
At one spectacular viewpoint on the road to the Makapu'u lighthouse, one can watch wild waves crash into rock ledges, sending tons of water spray into the air. Sometimes water surges and claws onto the rocks, too, sweeping across in dramatic arcs, washing the slippery rock clean.
The ledge is quite a bit further down.
As we approached the viewpoint with those same danger signs plus a waist-high stone wall, I joined a group watching in horror as a mother led her toddler toward the end of the ledge, into the spray. The little boy hung back, showing more sense than his mother did, but she pulled him forward, toward the edge. Toward the surging water.
I leaned toward my husband, a former lifeguard. "If she goes in, don't you go, too!"
But of course he would, and so would some of the others who watched as she eventually returned, her expression defiant: See, you wusses, I'm fine!
That's the problem with candidates for the Darwin Award. Sometimes they take good people with them.
Then my mystery writer brain kicked in and I wondered if that woman had a life insurance policy on the child. Dibs on that idea, ok?
Have you ever seen tourists behaving badly? What on earth motivates people to do these things?


Barb Goffman said...

Welcome home, Shari. Your story reminds me of the tourist mauled to death by a tiger just last week in China. http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/25/asia/china-animals-death/
I'm glad that little boy you saw is okay. (Or was okay last you saw him.)

Kait said...

Hi Shari, what a great trip! And the pictures - primo. OK, so I'm not the only one who takes finger shots. Glad to know it. Living in and partially growing up in the tourist area that is/was Miami, FL I've noticed a few things about tourists. 1-it is probably impossible to die on vacation, so no matter what you do, you're going to be okay, and 2-I'll never see these people again so who cares how I act.

Shark Valley part of the Everglades National Park. It's a big loop into the 'glades where people bike, take the tram, or even walk the loop (not me). It's known for its alligators. They are everywhere, often doing what alligators do. Lying out in the sun. I saw a lady prop her toddler against the side of a sunning alligator and step back to take the picture. Fortunately, all survived.

I'm now living in central Florida. Orange country. During the "snowbird" season we often see people coming out of the groves in the early morning with tote bags full of fruit. It's so bad that the grove managers don't count on picking any fruit that grows near the roads. Oh, we've got lots of cattle here too. We see lots of tourists in pastures with metal detectors. I sometimes wonder what they're thinkin'

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

In the Chelsea Physic Garden in London, small signs and knee-high fences suggest that certain plants are extremely toxic and if ingested, will cause death. No one--especially the school children--dares touch anything.

But in Cincinnati we have a zoo with a gorilla cage, and you know the rest.

Art Taylor said...

I'm doing all my armchair traveling this summer through Writers Who Kill. Australia over the weekend and now Hawaii! Working my way toward a California adventure en route back home....

But yes, horrified by the story here. Tourists can be crazy indeed, and I'm just glad no one was hurt.

Welcome home--though wish home was still in our neck of the woods. :-)

carla said...

It's always stunning when people do something this stupid. Do we believe we are immortal? That warnings are for other people?
Darwin award is right!

Gloria Alden said...

Lovely pictures, Shari.

On my first visit to the Grand Canyon, I saw a man place his young son, maybe four years old, near the edge so he could take a picture.

And it's not just Americans who can be rude, I've been pushed and shoved by groups of people from other countries when I've been to San Francisco and other popular places. I think it has something to do with what Kait said about nothing happening bad on vacation and you won't ever see these people again. But I agree from my trips over seas, that some American's can be incredibly rude.

Jim Jackson said...

Unfortunately, those who compete for the Darwin awards often endanger others in the process. I'm sure it's an indication of my wobbly moral compass, but I have no sympathy for folks who do incredibly stupid things and then die as a result of them.

Warren Bull said...

I remember a woman outside Disneyland who held hands with two small children as she ran across a busy street in the middle of a block apparently because she did not want to go to the corner and wait for the sign to walk.

KM Rockwood said...

Not exactly tourists, but...

We used to live in a house whose yard backed onto the main rail line between Chicago and Detroit. There was also a college in the neighborhood. I can't tell you how many times people, in cars, bicycles or on foot, raced trains to the crossings, climbed over or under stopped trains to get to the other side, or hung on slow-moving cars for a joy ride.

I think the current craze with selfies has only increased this disturbing tendency to place oneself in a dangerous position.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Barb,
I thought of that lady too! I still think of that little boy and what on earth his mother was thinking. Training the next generation, I guess.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kait,
Living in Florida, I am sure you have more stories than most - and they are crazier. There is just something about Florida. I am going to have nightmares thinking about that child and the alligator.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Margaret,
You're right - a little thing like a fence doesn't stop tourists. Julie and I were chatting about that - how the sites in Australia are not fenced. I wonder why we bother here. I guess it stops the folks like me who remember that they mean something.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Art,
I did the California part before Korea (Channel Islands - awesome spot - Dash would love the dolphin sighting!)
I do miss you and all my Virginia friends. Hoping my travels take me back south soon!

Shari Randall said...

Hi Carla,
Darwin awards, indeed.
And I am just glad that your own travel experience - which was so much more dangerous than mine - ended well.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Gloria,
You are so right. If only people would take their manners when they go on vacation.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Jim,
I don't think your compass is shaky at all (what does that say about me?!)

Shari Randall said...

Hi Warren,
Oh, that's awful. It's one thing when people endanger themselves, but when they drag their kids along....

Shari Randall said...

Hi Kathleen,
I've heard the new trend is for people to take photos on railroad tracks. Something about the visual image of time and distance covered.
I think you are right. So many people maneuver themselves into dangerous situations for a photo. Makes it stressful for everyone around them.