One thing you’ll notice at the beach is that the scopes guys – and girls, too – are all young, friendly and extremely tan.
Ethan Quinn, like Ferris Berlin and countless others, is a scopes guy. And if you’re not familiar with the scopes folks, you haven’t spent enough time on the beach. After awhile, and especially when you’re with your family, the blue-shorts-wearing photographers are sure to approach you and ask if you’re interested in a picture. It’s just part of the job.
Also with the job comes frequent rejection, the cold shoulder from impatient moms who just aren’t interested in whatever these kids are touting, but on the other hand, there’s also the opportunity to make someone’s day by providing them with the perfect memento from their Ocean City vacation.
Quinn wears his Scopes shorts with the scopes themselves – those tiny keychain telescopes with photos inside – hanging off his waistband. He works long days out in the sun and at the photo studio, from 10 a.m. to around 4:30 or 5, and his jurisdiction runs from 117th to 125th street. Quinn, a Lancaster, PA native, is working his second summer as a scopes guy, and the word that he uses most to describe his job is simply “fun.”
“I’ve been vacationing here since I was a kid and I came down here and was like, why not live on the beach and not just vacation?” he said. “So I came down here, applied for a job and it turned out to be awesome.”
He says that anyone who thinks they might be interested in hawking scopes around the beach should at least try it out. He’s gained much more from this job than he might have as a line cook or boardwalk shop cashier – in fact, this job changed his life.
“I was not the most outgoing, energetic person, but I applied anyway and it’s changed me as a person,” Quinn said. “It’s made me a better person as a whole. I was a shy kind of guy, but this job made me better as a person and I do better in school…The interactions with the people just make you happy and energetic and excited.”
On the beach, where visiting families have come from all over the world (mostly the East Coast, but still) and from all walks of life, there’s never a dull moment. Especially when your job requires you to get to know all these people.
“You meet some fun people, some crazy people, some out-of-the-ordinary families who ask for ridiculous pictures,” he said. “Mom and dad doing backflips as the kids are holding hands. Some crazy things that you’d never expect.”
So the next time a scopes guy approaches you and asks if you’d like your picture taken, seize* the opportunity. You’ll be meeting someone who’s just as excited to be on the beach as you are, you’ll get a little souvenir and you’ll help them make commission, too. If you’re like me and already have several scopes from vacations past (thanks, mom), a “no thanks, but how is your day going?” goes a long way.
*My brain was not functioning correctly when this article was originally published. “Cease” has been changed to “seize.” I do want you to get Scopes done, because they’re cool. –ed.