Island life changed by ‘fellas like me’

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Martha’s Vineyard, the dowdier island neighbour to Nantucket off the heel of Cape Cod, could be experiencing demographic impacts from lifestyle adjustments and technology. Indications are telling: they come foremost from the local Volkswagen mechanic.

Dave Diriwachter has owned MV Bug & Bus, a vehicle repair shop for European makes, for 10 years. Dave’s desk is a nexus of important market data. Mixed in with heaps of parts invoices, used-up oil filters, dog-eared Bentley manuals, a box wrench and Kodi’s chew toys, Dave’s monthly disbursement records were indicating something new this year: the winter months were flat, break-even.

Dave’s winter monthly cashflows have always in the past been down a few thousand dollars, so this was good news. “It’s a bedroom community now,” says Dave. “Since 9/11 the season has gone from three months to about 10, and telecommuting is another reason this island is now becoming a suburb.”

This would have passed my notice, except Al Divito, my neighbour and a retired IBM technologist of the mainframe era, mentioned there were more “fellas like [me]” coming at odd times throughout the year. “Flex-workers...internet,” said Al, as if trying on the name of a new free browser.

So, during school holidays and long weekends in the off months on the Vineyard, I can put in productive days of e-mail, conference calls, research, writing and epistolary exploits from a canvas chair in the middle of a field. Lucy the Great Dane lays flat across my foot. When she is awake, I throw the ball. Occasionally on conference calls, the cell phone requires muting when the Cardinal in the apple tree goes on song.

If Dave’s data is correct, there are others making similar sacrifices.

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