Tiburon: a paranoid penninsula

By Sophie McGuinness

Yes, Tiburon may seem a benign peninsula; it is home to the shortest main street in the country, its first murder occurred only two years ago, and its residents had a median household income just under $150K in 2009. However, the police and fire reports in Tiburon’s local paper, The Ark, tell a different story; a story of fiery neighborhood feuds, the defacing of fancy cars, racial and age profiling and unchecked paranoia that tells a perversely hilarious saga of Tiburon life. Though the residents of Tiburon may not be diverse, their issues certainly are.

In fact, so diverse that The Ark employee who compiles these reports has ingeniously capitalized upon this prime comedic opportunity by creating witty titles for each of the reports. For example, on Christmas Eve of last year a resident called the police late in the evening to report a homeless woman seeking refuge in a nearby bush. The officer arrived heroically to awake the exhausted woman and have her “move along.” My favorite Ark employee titled this report: “Seasons Greetings.” In other towns, these sarcastic titles might offend victims, but in Tiburon they’re typed in bold, bravely mocking all situations with equal corniness.

It may not surprise you to know that we teenagers are the stars of the Tiburon Police and Fire reports. Our characters are tragically misunderstood and loyally feared by paranoid peninsula residents. On February 1, 2010, three of us frightened a jogger by sitting on a bench and admiring a view of the bay. Eight of us irked a citizen by “just lying in the road on Seminary Drive,” and seven of us were dubbed “teenage rowdies” by “talking together peacefully” on the stairs at a building on Ned’s Way. Blasphemy! On March 19, 2010, at 9:14pm “officers promised to keep an eye on a group of 10 to 12 juveniles after a neighbor called to report the activity. He said the youths weren’t being unruly, but he became concerned and called the police when the group hung around for fifteen minutes.” How flattering to know you and eleven friends could scare someone into dialing 9-11 in fifteen minutes! Without even being unruly!

Each issue of The Ark a woman named Laurie writes a short “disaster preparedness tip of the week” to save lives and exacerbate Tiburon’s epidemic of paranoia. Her tip is nestled between the Belvedere and Tiburon reports, and usually suggests something like learning how to stave off dehydration by extracting water from the water heater. But for two weeks in a row in January 2010, Laurie’s tip was “Never dial 9-11 unless you have a life threatening emergency.” How dare you inconvenience us like this, Laurie? I was just hoping to chat with an officer about the origin of some mysterious deer bones in my backyard (December 2011)! I’d really rather the cops confront my neighbor about the urine he poured across my fence this afternoon (February 2010). And honestly, how can you expect me to ask eight teenagers to stop lying in the street? They haven’t fully developed, they could become unruly!

These reports left me more afraid of the rabid informants than the half-assed criminals.