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Attack Of The Killer ‘Squitos

This one is less of an etiquette issue than it is one of sheer stupidity.

My Dad is retired and works part-time at a campground.  He loves it and he loves the campers-hearing their stories, making new friends.  In fact, when he is on vacation he usually takes his own camper out to the campground for a few days of R & R (he’s there right now!).  But, of course, for every great new friend or happy interaction he has, you just know there have to be a few kooks that come through.  This one occurred a few years ago and still makes me chuckle.

We live in the hot, steamy, humid southeastern United States.  It is not unusual for summertime temperatures to reach 100 degrees.  There are days when you leave your house feeling fresh and clean after your morning shower, only to feel sweaty and sticky by the time you get to your car.  As a result of these semitropical conditions, we have a very big problem with mosquitoes.  We do have a mosquito abatement program; however, the effectiveness is limited.  Every Avon Lady I know sells Skin-So-Soft practically by the gallon.  It’s that bad.

So, imagine my Dad’s surprise one day when and irate woman came storming into the campground store, walked up to my Dad, and demanded to speak to the person “in charge.”  Note that he described her as quite overdressed for a campground, with full make up, lots of jewelry, and clothing and footwear definitely not appropriate for hiking trails and fishing.  He was the only one on duty at that moment, so that would be him.  The woman went into a long rant about how terrible the mosquitoes were, she can’t enjoy anything because of them and she wants to know what Dad is going to do about it.  He explained to her that it’s just the way it is and there’s not a whole lot that can be done about them, except use repellent and avoid going outside in the early evening (when they are at their worst).

Not good enough for this lady.  She had never heard of such a thing.  Didn’t he know this was her vacation and she doesn’t need to spend it being chewed up by bugs!  Something needs to be done and done immediately!  Apparently her rant was pretty impressive.  She went on for quite some time, not letting Dad get a word in edgewise, all the while other customers would come into the store, see what’s going on, laugh and then leave.  No matter what he said, Dad just could not convince this woman that the campground had no control over the mosquitoes.  He finally asked her if she had ever been camping before.  Unsurprisingly, she replied that she had not.  All Dad could do is suggest to her that perhaps camping was not an appropriate activity for her.   0124-11

{ 39 comments… add one }
  • jen February 2, 2011, 5:37 am

    It was wrong of her to be rude (and is it too harsh to say stupid?), but mosquitoes make some people absolutely lose their minds. I think it’s always a little sad when people think they can control nature with the flick of a switch or a press of a button. It’s like when people visit another state/province/country, and want their money back when it rains every day.

  • LeeLee88 February 2, 2011, 7:29 am

    Am I the only one who is having a vision of Delta Burke walking in to a little camp store and going off like this? 🙂

    Honestly though, I used to run into people like that lady all the time during camping, so your father has my deepest sympathies. I imagine folks like her hear of the abatement programs, and somehow come to the conclusion that park authorities are magic and can place a force field around the park to deter mosquitoes. Or something like that.

    She might have been related to the one family that we met one year who yelled at the ranger because they’re kid didn’t catch a fish. In a part of the river where you’re not permitted to fish because it’s a swimming hole. Specifically for small children. Yeah. They did not understand how they could possibly get in trouble for such a thing, and was the ranger going to get their boy a fish or not?! 😛

  • NotCinderell February 2, 2011, 8:16 am

    Jen, mosquitoes drive some people bonkers (myself included), but rational, normal people think, “Hm. I hate this. Maybe I should go get a hotel.”

  • Cindy February 2, 2011, 8:25 am

    After lifting my jaw off the floor, I probably would have told her that the mosquitoes were imported from the Amazon to enhance the camping experience.

  • DGS February 2, 2011, 8:29 am

    How nice of your Father to have been very tolerant…This lady sounds like camping is the worst possible activity for her to engage in; she’d be better off in a local hotel, with air conditioning and a pool. My Mom, who is the most fabulous Ph.D. Chemical Engineer I have ever met (her uniform for grocery shopping includes boots with stiletto heels, full makeup and jewelry; she’s European and in terrific shape, and unlike the majority of American women does not believe that comfort outweighs fashion), always says that she “doesn’t camp, doesn’t hike, doesn’t sweat”. When she travels, she stays at hotels and appreciates the outdoors from the window of a tour bus. But she has awareness and insight of this tendency, which is why she’d never go camping or go off on an unsuspecting owner of the campground.

  • SHOEGAL February 2, 2011, 8:38 am

    I suppose if you didn’t have much of an opportunity to get out and experience nature before and on multiple occasions then perhaps you’d have the misconception that even nature can be controlled. I still have a hard time believing that people could be that dim. I can’t help thinking that entitlement plays such a role in people’s lives now that they can’t accept that you can’t have everything that you want the way you want it.

  • AMC February 2, 2011, 8:39 am

    This reminds me of an incident that happened to me last year. There were record-high temperatures that summer. I work on a college campus, and it got so hot the university’s power plant couldn’t handle cooling all the buildings at once. So the campus was put on a “cooling loop”, which meant that only a few buildings would be cooled at one time. Things got warm and uncomfortable, but we coped as best we could. As I was about to close the office one day, a lady marched in and began ranting at me about the heat. (It wasn’t a dangerous level, just uncomfortable. No one passed out or died from over-heating.) I tried to explain to her that this was a university-wide problem and not something I had any control over. She demanded to know who did, but I honestly didn’t know. When she demanded to know who she had to speak with about the heat, I swear I was *this* close to telling her “God.”

  • merrycat February 2, 2011, 9:03 am

    Goshdarnit, I’ve been camping wrong all these years! I’ve been getting scammed and putting up with substandard service! Next time I go I’m going to speak to the manager and demand they turn up (or down) the the thermostat, do something about the bugs and the rain, and arrange for a nice, cool breeze during the hottest part of the day.

    It seriously surprises me how many people think that nature is can be pushed and bullied into compliance. They fail to respect how unpredictable and dangerous it can be – for example people that try to pet or prod at wild animals at national parks.

  • --Lia February 2, 2011, 9:15 am

    Sounds like an opportunity to have some fun. After the real explanation (there’s nothing much we can do about it), I would have asked how long she was staying, then assured her that they were right on it, would take care of the problem immediately, and told her that the mosquitoes would be gone in another 2 weeks (after learning that she’d only be there for one). When she objected that her vacation was ruined, I don’t know if I could have resisted encouraging her to make a public statement in front of a lot of people saying exactly how disappointed she was.

  • LBC February 2, 2011, 9:24 am

    Sorry, no sympathy. Of course, I live in the southeast Texas where we joke that the mosquitoes are built by Boeing, they’re so big, but who goes on vacation without finding out what sort of climate to expect? We’ve had people visit in September, dressed for September in the northeast, only to discover that it’s 90% humidity and a heat index of 113 here.

    All they had to do was Google “Houston weather” and they would have known to pack tank tops and Off!.

  • Xtina February 2, 2011, 10:15 am

    There is no talking to people like this. They are right, everyone else is wrong, and you’re not fixing the situation because you don’t like them personally and want to see them suffer. I also live in the “armpit of the South” and am very familiar with the bugs–obviously that woman must not ever set foot outside if she doesn’t realize that no matter what you do, the bugs manage to get by. How stupid of her to be so rude. Nature is nature. I think the OP’s dad has far more patience than a lot of people would have in dealing with someone like this lady. Suggesting that camping is not her thing is probably about the best answer he could give, and I fully agree.

    I’ll never understand how come common sense flies out the window when people go on vacation and they think that the resort/campground/hotel/locale is responsible for the weather, and they are OWED something because the weather didn’t cooperate while they were staying there.

  • Shayna February 2, 2011, 10:29 am

    From firsthand experience, I know how crazy mosquitoes can be. Where I grew up, we didn’t have an abatement program, so we all knew to stay inside in the early evening. But even still, we always wore repellent when we went outside. It was just a given. However, never would we have reamed out some poor person who has no control over it. Bugs are just a part of life.

  • Louise February 2, 2011, 11:55 am

    I think dad should have asked, “What would you like me to do about the mosquitoes?” And gone on from there. Perhaps the lady just needed more or better repellent. Had she demanded dad herd the mosquitoes away from her, he could have asked how, and just kept going until she realized the foolishness or futility of what she was saying. Hopefully. Is that rude though?

  • Mom2PBJ February 2, 2011, 12:07 pm

    She probably wouldn’t be interested in the Mosquito Festival.

  • Jillybean February 2, 2011, 12:51 pm

    Hahaha – that’s priceless. Reminds me of a college camping trip. We were all hanging out by the campfire one night, and there was this one girl in particular, that clearly had no idea what she was in for when she agreed to come. She brought her hair dryer and curling iron and a full make-up kit – rustic was clearly not what she had in mind. So, a bunch of us are sitting at a picnic table playing cards, and we notice that under the picnic table on the other side of our camp is a porcupine. We keep an eye on it, but just go about our business. The one girl is pretty nervous about it (understandable, so not insulting her or anything), but the funny part was when she finally said, “I don’t understand why it can’t just go home!” I honestly think that some people think that campsites are some sterile environment that are somehow protected from the realities of nature.

  • Michelle P February 2, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Good grief. Sorry for your father having to deal with that, but I have to admit I was cracking up. Working in customer service for years, I could tell stories like that too. Once, when I was a bank teller, I was working the drive through. There was a lengthy line of cars at the ATM. A woman pulled into the drive through and said “I have a major complaint!” I figured with the way she was hollering, you’d thought her bank account had been cleaned out by mistake. I said “Yes ma’am?” She yelled “There is a huge line at the ATM!” I said, “Yes, and…?” That was her complaint! I was sorely tempted to ask her if she wanted me to go out there and ask all the other cars to move so she could go first. I simply said sorry for the inconvenience and went on. The other tellers and I laughed for hours.

  • Katy February 2, 2011, 2:03 pm

    Reminds me of my uncle when he travels anywhere outside of the big city that he lives in. He has a vision of how the world should be and gets really annoyed when it doesn’t live up to his expectations. He spent most of one weekend complaining about his drive to visit us and how people had logged parts of the land along the way, and how ugly it was to look at – even though most of that cleared land had been replanted but the trees weren’t big enough yet to make it “beautiful” again. Once we were spending a weekend at a beach house on the Oregon coast in March. March in Oregon is typically rainy and gray. (heck most of the spring is rainy and gray) So no surprises that it rained and was overcast the whole weekend. One morning he woke up and went to the window to look out at the ocean and his disgusted comment was “Uggh, typical gray Oregon ocean.” Yes, it would have been great had it been clear and sunny (and the Ocean was blue!) but I don’t know why he was expecting it to not be typical except that he felt entitled to a beautiful sunny weekend.

  • Lizza February 2, 2011, 3:12 pm

    Wooooow doesn’t sound like she should ever go camping again! Or maybe the people she was with (family perhaps?) should have guessed that maybe it wouldn’t be the best thing to do with her. My friends and I went camping mid-September, and figured the autumn temps would have been too cold and killed all the mosquitoes. Nope! Did we whine and cry and pitch a fit? No (well, okay maybe we got a little frustrated!) – we just bought a couple citronella candles and some stuff to sprinkle on the grass and things were fine.

  • WrenskiBaby February 2, 2011, 3:24 pm

    I used to work at a rest area on Interstate 80, where the road wound through the beautiful, fertile Platte Valley. Every day, tourists would complain that there was nothing to look at along the way except crops and cows. Okay, you’re driving through lush, irrigated cropland with the occasional pasture full of steers with a feedlot or two thrown in. Say “hello” to where your food comes from, city boy, and give thanks!

  • Rifish February 2, 2011, 3:36 pm

    Well, shoot. If only I’d known on that snowshoeing trip all I had to do was complain to the management that the mountain was steep and cold!

  • Dogzard February 2, 2011, 3:41 pm

    DGS, is there something wrong with those of us American women who do believe comfort outweighs fashion? I’m curious as to why you put that qualifier in your post.

    In any case, this story makes me laugh. I hate camping, and don’t go of my own free will. I’d certainly never think to go camping and then complain about one of the things that makes me hate camping so much! (I’m a mosquito magnet; mosquitos go for me before any one else present)

  • Carnation February 2, 2011, 4:07 pm

    When I lived in FL, our seaside community was plagued one summer with “red tide”. Man that stuff smelled bad and you could smell it all over town.

    One lady was quoted in the news paper as saying she was going to sue over it. She just never said who she was going to sue.

  • Chocobo February 2, 2011, 4:42 pm

    Oh man, this reminds me of our honeymoon in Mexico — it was October and the Yucatan is quite hot then, (heck… it’s ALWAYS hot), and as expected for a tropical climate it was very muggy and buggy at times (although they clearly sprayed something all over the place, the bugs weren’t that bad). But I remember some people *FREAKING*OUT* because there was a little mildew in the hallway (which was outside!), some rocks on one part of the beach, schools of fish in the water, and fairly large, toothless lizards sunning themselves on the grounds during the day.

    I mean… what did you expect? This place was fairly new and still somewhat in the middle of the jungle on the beach. It’s not Disney World — everything there is real, not made of plaster! I was amazed by some of the people’s expectations that they should be in some kind of a bubble where nature ceases to exist. If you looked across the street and saw what the raw environment looked like, it was pretty amazing to see what they had already done.

  • PrincessSimmi February 2, 2011, 5:58 pm

    I love camping and I’m allergic to mosquitoes. I would have told her where to go. Your dad is a very patient man!

  • NotCinderell February 2, 2011, 6:10 pm

    LBC, not only do some people not google the weather reports for the place they’re visiting, I’ve known people who didn’t bother to make themselves aware of the climate of the place that they’ve decided to move to.

    My sister was friends with a girl in junior high whose mother declared after one too many Chicago winters, that this was it, she was moving to Arizona. She meant it, too. She had my mom, a real-estate agent, list her house, and she and her family relocated out to Arizona.

    She was back in a year. When asked about why she didn’t stay in Arizona, she said, “It’s not like Florida at all! It’s, like, a *desert* out there!”

    Gee, ya think? If you wanted it to be like Florida, why didn’t you move to Florida? And if you wanted it to be like Chicago only warmer, then you’re out of luck unless you only spend your summers there.

  • carotte February 2, 2011, 6:15 pm

    This reminds me of some of thestories on notalwaysright.com, where people ask when the Niagara falls are turned on, you can only wonder if those people have never heard about that small thing we call “the outdoor” and “nature”.

  • RP February 2, 2011, 6:28 pm

    When she demanded to know who she had to speak with about the heat, I swear I was *this* close to telling her “God.”
    @AMC – That would have been hysterical.

    I think dad should have asked, “What would you like me to do about the mosquitoes?” And gone on from there.
    @Louise – Actually, I think that would have been polite and an excellent idea. On the off chance they have an answer you’d at least find out what it is they think can happen and, as you said, when they don’t have an answer they’ll be forced to admit there isn’t a solution.

    @OP – This sounds EXACTLY like the sort of thing vacation_rentals_suck puts up with in all of his stories on CustomersSuck.com. It’s a variation of the “beach is too sandy” complaint. Mind-boggling.

  • Kat February 2, 2011, 6:40 pm

    @DGS – I’m with Dogzard. Your mother sounds like a classy lady, but are you suggesting there’s something inferior about those of us who don’t get dolled up like that?

  • DGS February 2, 2011, 6:54 pm

    @Dogzard, not at all – simply a description of my Mom who would rather be fashionable than comfortable at all costs, which tends to be more of a European way of thinking and concept of femininity. Example: having grown up in the States since I was a teenager, I see nothing wrong in running out to the store in my sweatpants, with no make- up, sneakers, and my hair in a bun. My Mom would never, ever do that. She would be fully coifed and made up, in a fitted and flattering outfit and heels, perfect manicure, perfect pedicure, at all times. That’s just who she is (and why she is a perfect candidate for anything BUT camping). I say, wear what you like.

  • PrincessSimmi February 2, 2011, 10:43 pm

    Carotte – yes, you’re right. The notalwaysright website is a constant source of hilarity for myself and my friends. I think it should be mandatory that each child is taken camping at least once in their life. And I’m talking real camping – a sleeping bag under the stars, a hole in the ground, and no showers for a week, bugs, food cooked on a stick over the fire.

  • Enna February 3, 2011, 7:43 am

    Wow. She needs to go elsewhere for her holidays if she can’t handle the mosquitos. I suppose wearing all the make up might have attrated the mosqiutos more as the chemicals make her more smelly – not to mention if she is overdressed in the wrong clothes that would make her sweat more and smell more too. As for the jewllary – not good to wear loads of it even if you are going on a hotel holiday as it could get stolen.

  • Kat February 3, 2011, 1:18 pm

    @DGS Thanks for clarifying 🙂

  • Maryann February 3, 2011, 9:25 pm

    You just can’t please this type. If it’s not exactly how they want it, it’s not good enough. If someone like this had seen Jesus turn water into wine, she’d demand that He make her a daiquiri. >_<

  • Leslie Holman-Anderson February 3, 2011, 11:19 pm

    @ Carnation: I grew up in Southern California, which also get red tide. Yes, it stinks to high heaven. But in a red tide, the beaches would be line with cars for miles and miles at night, putting up with the smell for the sake of the incredible light show put on as the agitation of the waves caused the red tide plankton to fluoresce. Incredible beauty.

  • Anonymous February 4, 2011, 7:54 am

    Enna–for the record, sweat naturally repels mosquitoes. When I was a teenager at summer camp, and we went on outtrips, our counsellors always encouraged us to go without deodorant, so we wouldn’t get bitten as much. Of course, none of us did, and we just wore commercial insect repellent along with our deodorant, but hey, just an FYI–if you ever go camping and forget your bug spray, just don’t wear deodorant, and you’ll be fine. 😉

  • Bint February 4, 2011, 4:00 pm

    This reminds me of flying from LA to London. They announced the weather as we approached London (15C, raining, mid-June) and people on the plane were complaining and saying ‘something should be done’ about it. Yeah, that’ll be ‘go to another country’. It’s Britain! Land of unpredictable but usually rainy weather! Something should be done. Honestly.

    Mozzies at a campsite. Imagine that!

  • DaisyChain February 4, 2011, 5:42 pm

    “I am so sorry about this, ma’am. I will speak to the mosquitoes immediately.”

  • Jillybean February 4, 2011, 10:36 pm

    Hahaha – DaisyChain – I LOVE that!

  • Peter February 5, 2011, 3:49 pm

    For those who bring curling irons camping…

    One of my fellow scout leaders has a single pair outlet in a conduit box with a 18″ piece of conduit pipe out the bottom of the box… easily staked into the ground near a handy tree.

    Usually he uses it as a gag reward for patrols that have impressed him in some manner — they get ‘power’ in their campsite for the night.

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