MAYFLOWER BEACH, DENNIS – Sometimes, when Zach Savage is in traffic, “Someone in the car next to me will give me a look like, Hey, you’re that guy from the beach.”
On the first day of summer, Savage, as gate attendant, was, in fact, the face of the Mayflower Beach parking lot – $20 a day, $25 on weekends. “It’s a flat, sandy beach. It’s great at low tide for long walks, Frisbee, and Wiffle Ball,” he said. “It’s arguably the best beach on Cape Cod.”
Savage, 18 of Dennis, has been working as an attendant for three years and he said he loves the job. “Growing up as a kid on the Cape, I always came to the beach and it looked like a fun job. Everyone was always so nice.”
Caitlin Yip, 21 of Dennis, has been a gate attendant for two years and she said she loves the people she works with and almost all aspects of the job. “I love it. It’s great to be outside, except for the tan lines, which are weird,” she said.
Savage also has discovered that everyone he works with is, indeed nice, and so are most of the customers. “If they get in here early, they are happy,” he said. Early means not waiting in line, and that means getting to the beach 9;30 a.m., or by 8:30 a.m. on weekends, he said. When people have to wait in line, “it can get pretty erratic,” said Savage. The beach has about 300 parking spots, he said.
“People drive up and they say, ‘Twenty five dollars, are you kidding me?’ No, I’m not kidding. They still pay though. Honestly, when you come down here for a full day of sun, there’s a mile and a half of beach out there. There’s 100 yards of beach to the ocean at high tide. At low tide, it goes a half mile out. There’s a lot of freedom to get out there and do what you want to do.”
And there’s a lot of demand, sometimes more than 300 cars worth.
Once the lot is full, he said, there is six-car waiting line. More cars would block traffic so all cars after first six in line are told to drive around the block and come back. “You just try to stay as gentle as you can,” he said. “You’ve got to stay calm. But sometimes people get out of hand.”
According to Yip, “You get all types. Some people are nice and cordial, and understanding of the rules of the beach. But some people get confrontational. One time one older couple who had to drive around the block told me I was bad at my job.”
Mayflower is the most popular beach in Dennis, said Savage. It is staffed by anywhere from three to nine attendants, depending on the time of day, he said. When he is at Mayflower Beach, he can occasionally take a break and dive in the water to cool off. And he has co-workers to talk with.
“It keeps you going. Plus they move us around to different beaches. One day you could be here, and another day you could be at a lonesome beach working by yourself.” Lonesome beaches include Sea Street Beach, Howes Street Beach, and Harbor View Beach, he said.
Savage, who is planning to take a year to figure out “what to do with my life, said he does a lot of reading at the slower beaches. At Mayflower Beach, he is usually busy dealing with customers, but there are slow times when he will “read, watch the birds, watch the wildlife, and eat.” There is a snack bar at the beach.
On this first day of summer, smiling behind his sunglasses, Savage said he was happy that the warm weather had arrived but he expected a hot summer because the Cape had a cold winter. “I live on Cape Cod full time. I know what it’s like in the winter and in the summer. Summer is much more fun.”
Even traffic, a common complaint for most Cape residents, is better in the summer, said Savage, perhaps the Cape’s biggest optimist.
“It breaks up the day,” he said. Sure, a 15-minute trip might take 45 minutes, he said, but that time in the car is a nice break from his two jobs. He also works at a grocery store.
Yip, who is studying psychology at Queens College in New York, agreed that the Cape summer traffic was not bad. “Even with all the tourists who don’t know how to use the rotary, it’s still better than driving in Queens,” she said.
Savage said he loves everything about summer on the Cape, even the questions from tourists. “The most interesting question I’ve ever been asked? Gosh, probably, ‘Can I interview you?’ “
– Brian Tarcy