At first glance, the humans appeared normal. Some were shoeless, tanned, and leathery. Others looked pasty white or blotchy red. They seemed happy, laughing at times, filling their shopping carts. They were all good consumers here. As I passed Ace hardware and TJ Maxx, the parking lots were full. The ubiquitous Toyota Tacomas were lined up at obscure filling stations guzzling $5.30 a gallon gas.
I was truly baffled. Something for me was quite askew.
There were no traditional billboards to be found along these tropical highways. There were no digital kiosks at the shopping areas to help these citizens determine what to consume or apply to their bodies. There were no C store ads, imprints on the beaches, wrapped trash cans, or aerial banners fluttering behind slow-moving planes.
I continued my futile search for gas toppers. Nada one. Looped ads on the screens in the tiki bars? Nope. A wrapped vehicle couldn’t be found driving down a palm-lined street.
How could these people function? They’d have to make uninformed gut decisions, use word of mouth, pry through guidebooks, or for heaven’s sake, employ pure chance. If it wasn’t for the warm 90-degree heat, I would have had a chill up my spine at the very thought. If it wasn’t for the breathtaking beaches, the exotic Jurassic Park scenery, and the constant Mai Tais, I’m not sure I could have lasted a whole week on the Island of Kauai.
I was on a family vacation. More so for my wife, who didn’t have to hear my typical running commentary while driving, like “those are well-placed flag-mounted bulletins”, “not sure about those questionable stacked posters”, or “that’s hard-to-read creative”. As the days wore on, I came to adjust to this stark listless environment with the help of the calming ocean waves on the dimpled golden beach. On my last day, I sat under the shade of my faded umbrella munching on some chips when a small flock of red-headed Cardinals landed in the sand before me.
Finally, I had my audience. I began my fantastical story before these ginger-headed birds. “Let me tell you about a land far across the sea, where OOH reigns supreme….” I had their attention.