Insensitive Lout

Sometimes I’m just an insensitive lout. Other times I’m worse.

The Puna District took a hard hit from the hurricane.

The Puna District took a hard hit from the hurricane.

Recently I was crowing about how Honolulu lucked out on Hurricane Iselle and declared the storm as little more than an inconvenience.

I completely failed to note that some of my fellow Hawaii residents took a real beat down and are still suffering mightily from the effects of last week. Shame on me.

On the southeast coast of the Big Island is the Puna district, one of nine such districts on the Big Island, an area of some 320,000 acres which makes it just a tad smaller than the island of Kauai.

In Hawaiian, “puna” refers to bubbling fresh water and in the Puna district there are several tide pools where cold or hot spring water percolates from the ground.

The Ahalanui Hot Pond at Pu'ala'a County Park in Puna, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The Ahalanui Hot Pond at Pu’ala’a County Park in Puna, Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

It’s an extraordinary area with the highest volcanic risk on the island, with Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as a main draw, and extensive networks of subterranean lava caves.

Puna is not a wealthy area. In fact, approximately 85 percent of Hawaii Island’s Section 8 low-income rental housing certificate holders are Puna residents.

Puna is a unique ecological and geological environment with profound cultural traditions. It is the home of of the goddess Pele, giving the nearby volcano Kilauea and its surroundings a sacred status. Ancient Hawaiians recognized that human habitation here was subject to Pele’s will.

Pahoa town in the Puna District. A strange mix of old west and old Hawaii with a touch of Forever 1960 thrown in.

Pahoa town in the Puna District. A strange mix of old west and old Hawaii with a touch of Forever 1960 thrown in. Photo by Donald B MacGowan

Close to 50,000 folks live in the district. Due to Hurricane Iselle about 8,000 have been without water, power, ice or ready access to food supplies for almost a week and the prognosis is for a slow recovery because of extensive downed trees and limited resources for infrastructure repair.

So while I was happily crowing about dodged bullets, a lot of folks are toughing out a difficult period.

For that I feel badly – pedio-oral inversion on my part – foot in mouth.

E kala mai…I apologize.

At our condo association meeting last night we agreed to conduct a food and bottled water drive for the folks on the Big Island in connection with the Hawaii Foodbank.

Our “Aid for Puna” drive kicked off this morning and I was drafted to market the program so, of course, I will inflict a sampling of my efforts on you kind readers.

Here are a couple of our posters.

The dog looks familiar.

The dog looks familiar.

The first one features none other than the Malt who beseeches us to give so that he doesn’t have to beg. 

This is proof that there is little truth in advertising.

The FuzzButt doesn’t beg; he demands and, as a money player, will not sit and stay unless bribed with food treats.

We expect a good response to our food drive. Not only because our residents are amazingly generous – and they really are! – but also because we all stock piled supplies in anticipation of a strong storm and now need to clear out some space in our tiny domiciles.

I have a couple of cases of bottled water in the trunk of my car and hot sun plus an enclosed trunk does not improve the flavor of the water over time so I’ll donate that as a starter.

Puna Cat

Back to the ads. We tossed in a few Pity Cats to tug at the heart strings. Kittens are always good for food drives.

No, not as food, I meant as symbols of need to get folks to move from “Awww” to “Give”.

As a dog guy I am immune to Pity Cat marketing but, hey, whatever works.

Finally we used our best shot, an ad that was voted best in show at our previous Food Drive. The thing is, this one will be largely incomprehensible to folks not very familiar with Hawaii because it draws on a famous saying that embodies the Tao of Pidgin English.

“If can, can, If no can, no can.”

If can, can. If no can, no can. Kinda, sorta but not really exactly if you know what I mean.

If can, can. If no can, no can. Kinda, sorta but not really exactly if you know what I mean.

To us in Hawaii that pretty well says it all. Faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge? Invoke the Tao of Pidgin. Reluctant to dive in but don’t want to refuse a request? Yep, works there, too. The closest comparable expression may be the Arabic “Inshallah” but our version lacks any religious connotations.

Aid for Puna

Again, e kala mai, my humble apologies, to my fellow residents in Puna and anywhere else who have have faced adversity from the hurricane.

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8 Responses to Insensitive Lout

  1. Kyla says:

    My Halo says Mahalo.


  2. loisajay says:

    I’d probably have to work a little Bob Seeger in there with the Pity Cat. Cat-mando or No-Cando. Haha! Hey, this is almost as good as your advertising, isn’t it?!
    The kitten really cracks me up (and you know I am a cat person). For some reason I picture him as Tiny Tim (Dickens Tiny Tim, not weird Tiny Tim), begging for porridge. Please, mister…….


  3. What a lovely post. I admire your humility and generosity towards your fellow Hawaiians. I hope the drive is a massive success and that it helps those people who have suffered from the hurricane. Well done Tom!


  4. Gold star 🌟 for your humility and compassion for the less fortunate folks of Hawaii and kudos for your efforts to help the Puna folks out. Best wishes for a successful drive. Keep us posted on how things turn out. I heard the eastern side of the island got pummeled but Hawaiians are a resilient lot as well as generous.


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