Wondering what the heck this is about? Read the piece (below) and all will become clear.
The DOLT Revolt
by greg blanchette 2013
I kicked up my skateboard, glanced up and down Campbell Street, and casually pulled open the door to the district office, like I was going in to sign up for a macrame class, maybe, or ask about the noise bylaw.
Laura was expecting me—all smiles as usual, but you don’t mess with a gal who knows a dozen ways to take you down with her bare hands. I nodded politely and gave the password. “You’re late,” she said.
“Gallery clerk needed a few tears dried,” I explained, stepping into the broom closet and shutting the door behind me. I opened the secret panel at the back, got into the elevator, and pushed the button marked “Control Room.”
Two floors down in its concrete bunker, DOLT — the Department of Long Time — was buzzing. People talked in low voices, monitors blinking, closed-circuit video feeds covered every point in town.
In the soundproof conference room, a dozen of my fellow agents slouched in their chairs. The Otter sat at the head of the big cedar table, showing none of the smiling diplomacy she emanates in public as Mayor Josie O. (She got the nickname from being so darn effective: people kept saying “Josie oughtta….”). Now The Otter was all business, her mouth a grim line, looking like the hardened spymaster she really is.
She tapped her iPhone on the table. “Okay people, listen up!” she said. “I know it’s been a tough August. Tourists galore, traffic jams, endless lines at the Co-op. And every local resident and tourism worker wigged out and blabbing away like an iPod stuck on fast forward.”
She’s right. It’s no picnic maintaining the “Tuff Fog” — the smokescreen illusion that Tofino is a laid-back, mellow surfer paradise, when in reality every local works three jobs, volunteers another two, squeezes in three surf sessions a week along with a couple of parties, and generally blasts around all summer more hopped up than Chris’s Ducati on methanol. DOLT keeps a dozen field agents jumping with front-line staff alone, those dozens of resort reception, tour booking, fishing guide and server people. This time of year they get burned out and sloppy, start complaining, telling tales. It’s up to us to stop them before they say too much, and remind them that Tuff City’s laid-back reputation is the gold that keeps us fat and happy, or at least barely fed.
By the end of August it takes a toll. I looked around the table at my fellow DOLT agents, wild hair, bugging eyes and facial tics. Clearly a crew on the verge of snapping. Oh, the sacrifices we make to keep this town’s rep intact! Ralph alone spends hundreds a month on wardrobe and hair appointments. The man was born to fill out a power suit; it isn’t easy for him to dress down to surfer standard and keep his beard looking wild. But, like all of us, he does it for Tuff.
“So now,” The Otter continued, “we’ve got just one more month to get through, and then we can relax. We all know September’s the best time of year out here. The tourism crush eases off, the Fogust chill breaks, we can cut back to just a day job and an evening job.
“But we’ve still got to make sure the Tuff Fog holds, that no visitor or tourist or backpacker even begins to suspect the ugly, broke, workaholic truth: that we’re no more laid back than … Toronto!
“So there’s one more little thing I need you to do,” The Otter said, and I could tell from her tone it was going to be trouble. “If word gets out that September’s so darn fine, it’ll go nuts — wilder than August, and we’d never be able to keep a lid on the Tuff Fog. So DOLT is going to have to get every single visitor in town this month to sign a non-disclosure agreement, promising not to tell anybody else how good September is.”
There was stunned silence. Corey dropped his head into his hands, moaning No-no-no-o-o. Then a murmur rippled through the room. “Signing forms?” Em said sarcastically. “This is what we signed up for?”
“That’ll double our workload!” Ralph roared, pounding the table.
Turtle sprang from his scooter: “Whadda we look like, a buncha bureaucrats? Haw-haw-haw-HAWWWWWW!” The bray of his laugh galvanized the troops. People jumped up and hooted. Pens and bits of stale muffin arced across the table as battle lines were drawn. A clipboard frisbeed through the air. The Otter pounded the table with her iPhone, shouting “Order! Order!” In short, it was pretty much a regular Tofino meeting.
Oh, it would turn out alright; they were just blowing off steam, all those undercover skaters, tokers, tree-huggers and espresso addicts at the core of DOLT field ops. But it was going to take The Otter an hour to settle everyone down. Ever the canny politician, she was already handing out Diablo cookies as a distraction. I grabbed one, hoisted my skateboard and escaped into the elevator.
Upstairs, Laura’s raised eyebrow silently asked How’re they taking it? I rolled my eyes and twirled a finger beside my head, the “crazy” sign, and grabbed the thick sheaf of non-disclosure forms she pushed at me. Slipping out into the bright September afternoon, I slalomed down Main Street toward TSK and a relaxing macchiato, the district office behind me once again an innocent little edifice dedicated to keeping the water flowing and the lights on.
Tofino writer greg blanchette lives an exciting double life. Blow the whistle on him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And download your own September Non-Disclosure form above. Don’t forget to sign it!