Captains of Industry
If you haven’t noticed, the media has really fallen in love with boating metaphors to illustrate our tough economic times. From “treacherous waters” to “rocky shoals”, the wordsmiths of this downturn seem infatuated with relating all things economic to the perils of boats and water.
While such comparisons paint a vivid picture, I’m not sure at what price, especially to those of us who view our time on the water as relaxation, not a life-or-death struggle.
To me, it’s the same thing they’ve done with the word “hero”. It’s been devalued to the point where nearly everyone can qualify, particularly when they start talking about “everyday heroes”.
Sorry, but just like the boating analogies, enough is enough.
When I first began my life on the water, my father instilled certain tenets in my young, mushy cranium that have served me well. The first was this: Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. In simple terms, it was a “worst case scenario” mindset that forced a young boater to anticipate bad things.
Yes, the skies leaving the dock may be a brilliant blue, but there are things called “weather forecasts” that can give you some insight of what is to come or navigational maps that can show the known hazards in your path. Ignore them and proceed at your own risk.
It was a rather simple formula made even easier with the advent of GPS and Doppler radar. The trick, of course, was paying attention. If you allowed ego or hubris to cloud your judgment and refused to listen to the voice of experience, you, my friend, were in for an exceptionally rough day.
Of course, the downside could very possibly be the ultimate downside. That is, if actual water was involved. Unfortunately, for the financial wizards who created our current tsunami, sucking a lung full of liquid was not the end game. Too bad. Instead, it was an exile to their summer home in Martha’s Vineyard and an abrupt end to photo spreads on the society page.
Or, they dodged imminent disaster with perhaps the most distasteful boating metaphor of all – a “bail-out”. If this doesn’t jab at the very core of every veteran boater and equally experienced taxpayer, then your vampire heart is indeed rock solid.
How could these so-called “captains of industry” bring us to such a woeful end?
To me, the answer is quite simple: These over-paid morons needed something more than a metaphor smacking them in their faces. Just maybe if any of these pampered slicky boys had ever – actually - seen some storm clouds on the horizon, felt the sting of an icy rain and known that deepest, darkest fear of having almost cashed it in, the pumps that bail out the water or the call to the Coast Guard might not have been necessary.
Experience is a tricky thing: Too much of it and you can become complacent or, worse yet, overconfident. As you become self-absorbed and self-deluded in your own mastery of the high seas, red flares or the insistent clanging of hazard buoys becomes less and less distinct.
What should matter most, doesn’t. And being sure of the wrong thing is as powerful a feeling as being sure of the right one. Just as I’m sure the last supper on the Titanic was delicious.
Outdoor writer for Bassmasters, Bass Times, Western Outdoor News, and countless other magazines throughout the US. Here are some of my excerpts from Boat and Walley Magazine that just might put a smile on your face.