There is no way to say for certain, but it sure looked like a village traffic control officer was sleeping on the beach the other morning. Like I said, it was hard to know.
About a week ago, I was out for an early surf at the first Georgica jetty. The waves were small, but with only one other lone person to share them, it was a good way to start the day.
Now, I don’t want to pile on the local T.C.O.s — they have a tough enough job walking around in the hot sun dealing with a certain entitled subset of the summer population who think things like parking rules should not apply to them. However, this particular young officer first caught my eye when, riding on a four-wheel “quad,” basically a glorified dirt bike, he entered a federal no-vehicles area set up to protect the endangered piping plovers that nest west of the jetty.
Cautiously, it appeared, he worked his way past the plover fence, then parked just out of sight around a dune. He was out of sight, that is, from anyone on the beach; from where I waited for a wave a couple of dozen feet from the end of the jetty, I had a full view. He leaned back on the quad’s seat and did not move again.
I was sympathetic. I recall well my own early 20s and at least once taking a nap under my desk when The Star had an office in Montauk. My mood changed when I saw a woman with two dogs, one held on a leash, the other running wildly, enter the protected area, passing the no-dogs signs and blithely walking on. The T.C.O., asleep or just unable to see because of his hiding spot, took no notice. When the loose dog ran up into the inner nesting area, I started to get angry. I thought I should say something to the woman, but knowing how such conversations can run out of control, I did not.
It was, however, with more and more disgust that I watched as she eventually turned her dogs east, walking within the village’s new 300-foot leash zone without an apparent care in the world.
In the past few weeks almost every time I have been to a village beach, I have seen someone with dogs running free in violation of the rules — or piles of dog waste or bags apparently containing the same left on the sand.
I doubt anything short of an all-out ticket blitz would put a stop to dog owners ignoring the law. Sleeping T.C.O.s do not help the matter, but frankly, at least when they are supposed to be awake, they really have better things to do.