Saturday, June 24, 2006


Integrity and


It started the other morning, the day I skipped writing because I had to be in Madison all day and needed to get an early start. And what better way to start the day than over coffee with JB? You see, JB is my mentor. He taught me how to kayak properly and he taught me how to teach kayaking to others. More over, he has been an endless source of ideas and, as this day, equipment. He had, as promised, brought along a patch of Gortex repair material with a self- adhesive backing. It wasn't very big (as you can see), but it would cover the 1/16th inch holes I was to drill in my bulk heads to allow pressure to equalize as the boat warmed and cooled. Anyway, this isn't about JB, or even Gortex. It is about me.

It started storming before I could leave the coffee shop, and I gathered up the back band (did I mention that JB had also brought along a back band for me to try) along with the almost weightless patch and made a dash to the car. The next hour found me focused on the intemittent and partly clear views between winshield whipper sweeps as I headed through the storm across I-94 toward Madison. As it turned out, the weather in Madison cleared so that I could teach an early morning and a late afternoon class. The day, which had started at 5:30 am, when I loaded my boat onto the car, eventually ended at 11:00 pm when I was home with everything stowed.

Jump ahead 4 days. I am sore from my physical therapy session and know I have no time to paddle. Aha, but I do have time to quickly drill those tiny holes through the 3 bulkheads (you do the math) and put on those nifty Gortex patches to keep water out. So, I go to the car, take out the back band (I know I already mentioned it) and reached for the patch I remember having tucked into the strap of the back band. It wasn't there.

No problem. I remembered (something my wife doesn't believe I can do) that I had, because of the storm, tossed the band onto the floor in front of the passenger's seat as I rushed to get into the car. So I searched the floor. Not there. Oh, oh. And it wasn't in any of the bags I used that day, nor was it jammed in the corner of the seat or in any of the mess (see last blog) in the back of my Blazer. I thought it through and decided that it must have blown away as I ran to the car. After all, it probably weighed .000001 grams and the wind was gusting into the forties.

But I had lost lost it, don't you see? And it had been a gift from a dear friend. How could I ever face him and tell him that?

No time. Off to the hardware store...never heard of the stuff. Call another place...nope, don't carry it. Search the internet...not the right stuff, not sure I am Googling it right. Failure. Shame. Damn, I am losing it (up here, in addition to the patch), and...and...and no two ways about it. I have to tell JB. As hard as it would be, I would have to be honest about with him, bite the bullet, take the hit, throw myself on the grenade and face the consequences. Why? Because, it was the right thing to do. I might be going senile, I might misplace little things (like a Chevy blazer in a parking lot), but I own my mistakes, and I am honest with my friends. (What did the guy once say? Integrity is what I do when no one is watching)

Not ideal, but I felt a bit better knowing I had made the right decision and would make the best of a bad situation.

But first I had to take Ansel, my faithful wonder dog, to the park for a walk. so into the Blazer, down the drive way and up your street. Damn sun, right in my eyes. Pull down the visor, the one with the CD holder on it. There, much better. I can see better now. I can see the road. And I can see the Gortex patch safely tucked under the strap of the CD holder where I (apparently) had put it, (knowing it was a precious gift) for safe keeping. The Universe had been testing me, and I felt good I had made the right decision.

Now, I have a boat with self pressure adjusting compartments, and I can live with myself again.

Paddle safe



derrick said...

Great post. The only thing I worry about with you is your choice of mentors. . .

JohnB said...

Gosh, I thought that you were going to write that instead of drill a 1/16 inch hole in each of the bulkheads that you got out your hole saw and drilled (cut) a 1 and 1/16th inch hole, and that you were trying to figure out how to ask me if I had any more of that go-tex tape stuff.

Or, that you were trying to decide which side of the gore-tex tape was the sticky side--the white or the black, that they both seemed to not be very sticky.

Or, . . .I could on, but I'll never let a little thing like a piece of missing gore-tex come between us.

And Derrick, well, ah, um, oh, ahhh, ummm, oh never mind. . .