I liked Mitch Albom’s latest
book. I have been speculating about the five
people waiting for me to arrive at that big marina
in the sky to tell me how my life affected theirs.
If you have read Albom’s book
about the five people you will meet in heaven you
know that your five could be people you knew well,
people who were just acquaintances, or even people
who were complete strangers removed only by a
sliver of time or happenstance.
People have enriched our
lives here on earth. Did we enrich theirs? When we
cruise into the real “paradise,” or rather the
“entrance channel,” I guess we’re going to find
For example, I wonder
sometimes about the bridge tenders we’ve radioed
over the years, faceless and patient, who know us
only by the name of our vessel, the sound of our
voices on the marine radio, the urgency of the
horn. Will I meet a bridge tender in heaven? What
will he say to me? I’m not sure I want to know.
I think except for this or
that happenstance we would have never met certain
people who made our boating trips so interesting.
What compelled us to pull into this marina and not
that one? Why did we take the dinghy to this
restaurant, and not that one? The boating life is
particularly that way, like something out of Rod
Serling’s Twilight Zone.
When you have operated a
fleet of 20 private charter yachts, sail and
power, for 20 years as Vic and I have you meet a
lot of nice people. Dockmasters have scrambled to
find slips for our vessels at the last minute.
Young assistants have rushed over to help our
charters tie up during a hard rain. People in the
slips next to our yachts have offered help,
supplies and friendship. We have had engine repair
specialists come to our vessels -- sometimes in
remote locations -- and work late into the night
to fix something. We’ve had workers rushing to
finish a bottom paint job so a boat would be ready
for its next charter. I dressed these heroes in
imaginary wings on earth. I’m certain they’ll be
issued real wings in heaven.
Albom’s book helped me gain a
new appreciation for the people we meet on the
water -- dockmasters, bridge-tenders, dockboys,
and clerks, for sure, but also all the people who
take a chance and open new waterfront restaurants,
repair shops and so forth. If we don’t support
them, I wonder sometimes, will those special
places go away? If they do, so will some of the
pleasure of boating.
And so, ask not what other
boaters can do for you but what you can do for
them. Consider the possibility that the boat you
almost upset with your big wake will be the boat
first on the scene when you run up on that sandbar
ahead. Will they throw you a line?
Eddie, the hero of Albom’s
book, did not have a glamorous job. He maintained
the rides at an amusement park. This is the part
that impressed me, the lesson of a life worth
living: Eddie took his job seriously.
Vic and I are grateful for
all of the people who take their jobs seriously
and therefore make boating as great as it is. We
boaters have to take care of one another. The
authorities aren’t really geared to help us except
in cases of real emergencies, and by then it may
be too late.
So, my resolution is to look
after others in our boating family as they have
looked after us. I should get a rubber stamp and
slap that resolution at the top of very page in
our cruising log.
I think of it this way: the
person we treat well today could save our lives or
the lives of our boating customers tomorrow.
Otherwise, when we arrive at the ultimate
destination and ask The Dockmaster for a
convenient slip, we may not like the answer.
Pass it on.