Dingbatters: Can't Live With 'Em, Can't Live Without 'Em

Rob Temple

If you’re on Ocracoke and you don’t know what a dingbatter is then you might be one. 

Dingbatter is an Ocracoke term meaning  “tourist.”  Well, not just any tourist qualifies as a dingbatter.  Consider the following:

1)    If you find yourself strolling casually down the center of Highway 12 without looking behind you, you could be a dingbatter.

2)    If you ask bone-headed questions like, “What time does the 6 p.m. ferry depart?”* you could be a dingbatter.

3)    If you ask really bone-headed questions like, “Is Pamlico Sound a man-made lake?”* you could be a dingbatter.

4)    If you ask really, REALLY bone-headed questions like, “When it rains here does it rain salt water?”* you could be a dingbatter.

5)    If you ask the cashier at the Community Store where you have to go to catch the ferry that goes from here to Ocracoke,* you could be a dingbatter.

6)    If you don’t know how to pronounce “Ocracoke” you could be a dingbatter.

7)    If you think there should be a bridge connecting Ocracoke to the rest of the continent, you could be a dingbatter.

8)    If you’ve driven around the village looking for a Walmart, McDonald’s or Pizza Hut, you could be a dingbatter.

9)    If you went on a sunset sail and spent the whole time talking on a cell phone, you could be a dingbatter.

*Yes, these are real dingbatter questions! We couldn’t make this stuff up.

If you just learned that you DO qualify as a dingbatter, try to remain calm. Just remember that we’re ALL tourists at one time or another. You’ve probably been amused  (or appalled) by the behavior of a visitor to your home turf who was on unfamiliar ground. And bear in mind that, all joking aside, we really appreciate that you chose Ocracoke as the place to spend some of your hard-earned vacation dollars.

If, on the other hand, you are a local, it’s no doubt with mixed feelings you contemplate the average dingbatter. There’s relief when you get through the month of August when once again there’s time to collect your thoughts and room to breathe. There’s the winter comfort of knowing nearly every person you see around the village. But there’s also the down side. Beside the fact that it may be some months before you’ll hear your cash register ring again, not all visitors to these shores are dingbatters. You’ve most likely met some interesting folks and even made a few new friends. 

And as for the dingbatters, what would we do without them?  As a local bumper sticker so aptly puts it: “No fools –no fun!”


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