As I have already written this week, my experience at the University of Hawaii at Hilo was a unique one– from an isolation standpoint. My one semester contract brought me a couple of things– good teaching evaluations, a recommendation from my chair, and five months listening to Coqui frogs at night. They sound more like birds than frogs. My best friend on the island was probably the Gecko that visited me in my apartment from time to time. Oddly enough, he never once reminded me that I could save “15 percent or more on car insurance.”
I was almost hit by cars at least three times crossing the street on a green light in the crosswalk. People will swing around on a left hand turn, sometimes on a right hand turn, and try to beat you to the spot or past the spot. I wanted to know where in the world they thought they were going so fast– there’s nowhere to go, it’s an island, you’re going to hit the water in a few minutes, slow down. So I’m in Subway Sandwiches and I ask a police officer, “Officer, what’s the deal here? Why are the drivers so bad?” He tells me, ” We are trying to educate people on driving.” Isn’t that the job of the DMV, before they issue a license? One driver almost hit me crossing near 7-11, which happened to be my nighttime Hilo delicacy, and so I asked the guy where he learned to drive and pointed him in the direction of the DMV. He got all excited and started jumping up and down yelling at me on the 7-11 grass. I told him a few things, questioning his capacity to operate a motor vehicle, and then we went in separate directions. But it was after that incident that I realized, hey, maybe they are so bored on the island that there is a significant drug problem, which leads to really crazy drivers. Not every driver in Hilo is like that, but there were definitely enough insane ones to never take for granted safe passage in a crosswalk on a green light. I’m sure there is a lot information on the web about this topic. A quick google search revealed several reports indicating Hawaii as having the worst drivers in the U.S. I definitely saw it first hand. I was one of the few pedestrians. Everyone, except some students, drives– and there are a lot of large vehicles too– SUVs and trucks. One would think– with climate change and rising sea levels and the threat to islands– that they would be a little more environmental there! They don’t have curbside recycling. Let’s put it this way, there is a professor there that teaches environmentalism that drives some big gas guzzling machine– SUV or Jeep of the larger variety– not too much consistency between word and deed.
I was getting food at Café 100 and the cashier told me her colleague got hit crossing the street and suffered a broken leg. The cashier at Longs told me that they don’t use the crosswalk because it is safer to cross in the middle of the street. So it wasn’t just me. Speaking of Café 100, which is a much lauded outdoor restaurant in town, it has okay Hawaiian food– chicken or beef on rice soaked in a heavy sauce (so you may require Alka-Seltzer after it)– but their hamburgers are like no hamburger that I’ve eaten before. Let’s put it this way, if you take a regular semi-dry hamburger patty and put it on a table with a plain bun and bottles of ketchup and mustard, and tell a four year old to assemble it– that’s what a Café 100 hamburger will be– burger, bun, mustard– smashed. I took a bite and looked at it and thought what is that. That is not taking pride in your work. Whether you are assembling an architectural wonder of the world or a hamburger, take pride in your work– put some lettuce and tomatoes and onions in it. Don’t smash it. It wasn’t the value menu, it was a full priced hamburger. I said to myself, “wow, that’s something.” But I digress. Anyway, for all the countries and U.S. states I have visited, I give Hilo, Hawaii the Worst Drivers in the World Award (according to my experiences) and Café 100 the Worst Hamburger Award.
More on Hawaii later….to be continued.