The Coast News Group
A surfer comes up the stairs at Grandview Beach in Encinitas last month during a king tide. Courtesy photo

Words to the wise

Nobody wants to be that guy, you know, the know-it-all, lecturing naïve tourists that they are likely to soil more than their new white tennies if they attempt taking certain paths on an incoming tide.

Mostly such tourists learn the hard way, when stuck between walls of pounding surf and a wall of boulders. Picnic baskets, cellphones and tennis shoes are ruined as they seek the comfort of dry land and the car heater.

I hate being that guy, and yet sometimes I force myself to inform newcomers of the unwritten rules of the road, starting with the one above.

I try being polite. Words like, “The tide is rising, and you might want to wait a while before walking the beach,” are often met with thanks, and as often with a “mind your own business” attitude.

Those leading the family are apparently trying to save face, something that can lead instead to mutiny when caught between the seawall and the deep blue sea.

I have also told people that bottles are not allowed on the beach, that they should not pick shellfish from the reef and take them home to rot in a bucket, and that they must pack their trash.

The latter will sometimes cause me to lose my temper as I once did when I hurled trash back into the van from which it came. No doubt thinking that I was some dangerous psycho, the van’s passengers drove away quietly.

Some time ago I saw a man seated near his family in the shadow of a frail sandstone cave that lined Swami’s before it collapsed. The man was in a full lotus, breathing deeply in an apparent attempt to increase his awareness, which did not include the possibility of the bluff falling on him.

I doubt he had seen the photos of the temple that once stood on the cliff above him as it made its way down to the beach below.

Making matters still more uncomfortable was my having to rouse him from his meditation and inform him that he and his entire family were in danger of being buried in an avalanche. He reluctantly left the spot that has since sought the angle of repose.

While these reminders are uncomfortable on land, they are worse in the water. Try telling someone not to take off in front anyone, that they shouldn’t try swimming against a rip, or that they are out of their depth in bigger surf and are proving themselves a danger to themselves and others.

I am somewhat ashamed to admit that as a young man, I once enjoyed demanding offending surfers leave the lineup, a practice I gave up when realizing that any graduate from a local surf school can out-surf me in these, the so-called golden years.

I have never mastered the art of informing without being offensive and have come to the brink of fists because of it. A word to the wise is nonetheless warranted as I sit behind the safety on my laptop.

Offended or not, please be cautious when being in or near the ocean. As you know or will soon discover, this is not a theme park ride tested for safety.

This is a wild world and it will not hear your terrified cries when up to your neck in seawater.

Please check out Chris Ahrens’ latest passion project, the YouTube channel, GodnGangsters: Also, stay tuned for Ahrens’ newest book, to be released in early March, “AlphaPhonecia, A Gangster’s Fairy Tale.