It’s tough being an expert. Not only do people keep asking you questions, they keep expecting to hear answers.
While some revel in this vicious circle, I sometimes blanche at the prospect of being the answer guy. Quite often, it’s a no-win situation especially when the topic concerns a boat purchase.
Certainly, the least taxing opportunity to share my opinions comes with a random guy on the street or at a boat show – someone who will take or leave my suggestions and then conveniently disappear down life’s pathway. The real danger, however, is with those encounters where the person will resurface at some later date to share the final scorecard at a block party, school play or family reunion.
This is when you get what I call the “hairy eyeball” from across the room. It’s a sinister squint that says, “Remember me, Mr. Expert? I’m the guy who actually took your advice!”
Most of the time, I don’t – remember - that is, unless I have been warned prior to this truly weird encounter of the worst kind. While I have become proficient in quickly deploying my invisibility cloaking shield, it rarely works for long. Sooner than later, I get cornered by the onion dip and like a barrel over Niagara, I find myself pummeled from all sides.
In virtually every instance, my inquisitor has conveniently forgotten that (a) I was literally dragged into the original conversation, (b) His wife was foursquare opposed to his boat purchase, (c) He did not own a suitable tow vehicle, (d) He had no place to store said vessel, (e) He was about $15,000 shy of getting what he really wanted and (f) All of the above.
Immediately, he starts telling me about his new tow vehicle, his garage expansion project, the second boat he just purchased to get what he really wanted and the diamond ring for his wife to balance the ledger. And, get this, he expects me to be surprised!
Welcome to the party, pal. This is the world I’ve lived in my entire life, the same that every boater knows all too well.
When entering the atmosphere of this strange boating planet, one has to consider it a watery Las Vegas where all of your money is considered to be “in play”.
Didn’t you notice my smirk when you said you were a first-time boat-buyer? Didn’t you see my toes digging into the carpet or my thousand-yard stare off into the distance? How could you have missed all of that?
Upon reflection, I’ve decided that my approach is seriously flawed. I’ve been way too honest. Like a deranged drug dealer, I tried not to hand them the crack pipe. No freebies for starters. No “eyes wide shut” encouragement.
No, I’ve tried to tell them the truth, frequently using the common description that boating is a “lifestyle”. A sick and twisted one at times, one with more hidden costs than a surprise set of triplets, but a lifestyle nevertheless.
They say that everyone is an expert over ten miles from home. Or maybe it’s ten minutes from home. Whatever the case and since I work out of my home - this is a problem.
But perhaps the real problem is that my expertise is in boating, not buying. I’m living proof of that. Remember, I’m the guy who invested in Beanie Babies.
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 Walleye Magazine that just might put a smile on your face.