October 1998
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Sometimes You Hafta Punt

By Erik Hromatka

"Sometimes you hafta punt." This phrase was the most important thing that I learned this summer. You see, I spent the summer in Alaska. Skagway, Alaska actually. It's a tourist trap, let me tell you a little bit about the town.

The town's official records say that it has 700 residents. However, only 300 people are dumb enough to stay there in the winter when the tourism industry, and their incomes, come to a halt. That means 400 people are milking the yearly supplement of oil money that the state pays to each resident while they sit in a warm tropical climate and sip icy drinks. Yes, isn't this a wonderful state? People actually get paid to live there and take a vacation for the winter.

So during the spring, the residents migrate back to town and are joined by 1300 (mostly college-aged) summer workers. Can you say party? No, the better question is, "How many times during the summer could Erik spell the word 'party' when he went to bed?"

So, I think, I was in Alaska, in a tourist town, where each day 5000-8000 blue-haired tourists walk (or get pushed in wheelchairs) off of cruise ships that dock in the morning and leave in the evening. In between the morning and evening, they walked into stores, like the one that I worked in, and spent ridiculous amounts of money on items like "ghost poop" (Styrofoam beads in a plastic bag) and asked really stupid questions. How stupid? Well, let me tell you some of them, and see what you think.

My favorite question (and I got asked it twice) was ,"How many glaciers are there in Alaska?" Both times I didn't miss a beat and answered, with a straight face, "Two." Or how about the question a friend of mine got, "Where's the other side of the street?" My friend burst out laughing, and ran away.

Is there a point to this article? Not yet, and I'm not sure there will be, but I promise to try.

Because there were so many students in the town, I got to meet a lot of interesting people from all over North America. Like the Canadian girl who lived two tents away from me (yes, I lived in a tent for 3 months). She claimed that her medically unexplainable seizures that she got on a regular basis had nothing to do with the amount of acid she took during Junior high and High school (typical Canadian, eh?)

I was a latecomer to "the ghetto," which is what the campground was affectionately dubbed by its residents. It got its name because of the passenger train that ran on one side, the road on the other, the parties, the food stealing dogs, cats, squirrels, and crows and of course the nightly cruise-by from the police.

Living in the ghetto I learned a lot. Being so close to Canada, I like almost learned how to speak Canadian, eh. I also learned some great facts about the great Maple leaf to the north. Whitehorse (the capital of the Yukon) has the highest per capita spending on non-prescription drugs of any city in the Americas. When I was in Whitehorse and asked someone where the nearest liquor store was the man replied, "Just go down this road a couple blocks and look for the milling Indians." But Canada is more than just your local drug store. The Banff area has the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases in North America and right now the whole country is on sale. 40% percent off if you use a credit card. What more could you want?!?! I could go forever, but I want to get back to "punting".

You see I lived in a tourist trap, where people walk down main street completely disregarding the cars trying to get through. They take buses, that charge a dollar, so they don't have to walk the three blocks back to the cruise ships. This, is where I learned to punt.

I worked for someone that treated me like sh*t, so I asked a friend what I should do. I drove from Minnesota to Alaska to work for the summer, I couldn't just quit. He said, "You just hafta punt." And then everything was clear. That night while sitting around a campfire we all complained about our boss and then said "let's punt." So the next morning, instead of going to work, we all walked over to the train tracks, looked at each other, said, "I ain't scared" and mooned the first train of the morning. It was beautiful, 23 guys and gals all lined up in a row, punting together.

That morning seven people said, "I ain't scared" and quit their jobs without notice (They all worked for the same restaurant). You can only take it in the rear for so long.

So the next time that someone is trying to get you from behind, and you don't want it, stand up, say "I ain't scared" and punt. Sometimes, "You just hafta punt," to give someone else your problems and show them how you really feel.

The Shrubbery is not responsible for any of the comments or opinions expressed by this author and would like to apologize to anyone offended by this article or by the author's summer. Specifically, we would like to apologize to the Lt. Governor of Alaska and the other representatives of both Alaska and Canada who happened to be on the train. The author would like to apologize for not getting to funny topics he encountered this summer such as: Mormons, the Minnesota world take over, identical siblings, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, loud panting at night, the cost of booze, biking while intoxicated (BUI), DEA busts and making tourists look really stupid.

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