The dogs and I managed to slip out for a walk this morning beneath a smattering of stars, between showers, which were looming in a black, billowy mass at the end of the street and resumed shortly after we returned to the house and then turned heavy in a winter-weather sort of way.
Flashlight in hand, I checked my car, where a rat had been captured the night before. It must've been in the bin of junk mail, which I'd carried from a shed out to the car that morning along with a pile of cardboard, enroute to the recycling center. Paele started sniffing around, and then I saw a flash of gray scuttling between the seats and he went nuts, madly pawing at the space beneath the glovebox where the rat had taken refuge. I left my doors open for the rest of the day, hoping it would leave, but it didn't, and since I couldn't bear the thought of driving my car with a live rat inside, I called a friend to bring over some traps after work.
Meanwhile, I found the empty, half-gallon plastic bottle at the bottom of the recycling bin where the rat, apparently pregnant, had made a comfy nest of leaves and torn bits of newspaper. And while I was sad that the rat hadn't escaped, I was glad not to have a litter of rat babies in either my car or shed.
Perhaps it was the thought of rat babies that led me to read the AP article about a pregnant woman's “horrifying experience” at a Honolulu Safeway, where she and her husband were arrested, and their toddler taken into protective custody overnight, after failing to pay for $5 worth of sandwiches eaten while shopping.
What struck me most, though, were the comments that were posted, with readers talking about how expensive Hawaii is, how stupid the state is and how racist the people are. One person noted that if the woman had been local, they would've congratulated her on her pregnancy and given her another sandwich.
Hawaii clearly has an image problem, because how many times have you heard the same complaints, or perhaps even voiced them yourself — anonymously, or privately, of course? We sometimes even see these simmering animosities taken to the extreme, like the Anahola man who allegedly chased down and punched out a visitor who had passed his car on the road.
Yet these deep-seated issues are regularly swept under the table, with the thought that if we just spend more on promoting tourism, if we just try to cast Hawaii in the most favorable possible light, no one will notice all the ways in which “paradise” is rough around the edges.
Elected officials like Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle play right into this. In response to citizen complaints about security measures that will block public access to public places during the upcoming APEC meeting, he was his characteristically callous and dismissive self. As The Associated Press reports:
"Even though we live in Hawaii, where the sun is shining and it's beautiful, there are some people who grumble every day," Carlisle said in an interview Friday.
"It's very clear to virtually all of the leaders in the entire state that APEC is a golden opportunity that we have to be extremely thankful to President Obama for affording us," Carlisle said.
And if takes spending millions on excessive security measures, ridding the city of its hordes of homeless — temporarily, of course — and making parts of Waikiki look like it was hit by a neutron bomb so that the delegates with their questionable business dealings can feel comfortable and Honolulu looks good on TV, well, that's what they're going to do.
Still, I can't help but think that one resident had it right when she suggested they could have met instead on one of the island's many military bases. Heck, they occupy some of the most beautiful beach fronts in Hawaii, and have lots of experience in keeping people, especially protestors, out.