Recently I attended a two-day leadership conference. If you have ever been to these types of events, you know they can be fun when people start telling about themselves. And this day was no exception. One of our trainers began the section on listening to other’s advice with a personal story.
Bill said that he had his heart set on a new bass boat when he was married to his first wife. (As we continue, you will understand why she is not his current wife.) His wife told him that they really couldn’t afford a boat and that he should wait awhile to buy one. But he insisted, “No, this is what I want and I’m going to buy it.” She responded, “Can you drive a boat?” In his forceful and macho way, he said, “I’m a pilot. I can drive anything!” (Now, you know there is trouble already brewing.)
So Bill goes to the boat store, buys his pride and joy and immediately returns home. He tells his wife, “We are going fishing.” They load all their gear and are off to the lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
The stage is set at the lake with a fairly steep boat ramp, a rookie that has never backed a boat trailer before and an audience of two. These two are sitting in their bass boat, tied up to a dock next to the ramp, enjoying some cold beer and watching everyone launch their boats. And their afternoon entertainment was about to be enhanced.
Our adventurous fisherman begins to back the trailer down the ramp and realizes that it is not as easy as he thought as he wobbles his way down to the water. But he finally gets the trailer and boat in the water and now it’s time to get the boat into the water and off of the trailer.
So he goes to the front of the trailer and releases the boat, thinking that it should slide off and into the water. But does it? No, it seems to be stuck. So he heaves and pushes and eventually climbs up on the trailer with his back on the boat and his feet on the tailgate of the truck. At this time, he can hear the giggles from the audience of two beside him.
As he strains and pushes and groans with his feet against the tailgate, it is obvious that the boat is not going to move. Then the giggles break out into laughter. These guys were beginning to get into this comedy routine. Then one of them composes himself and says, “Hey buddy. If you take the clips off the back of the trailer that hold the boat on, it will probably come off there.”
Frustrated and embarrassed, Bill wades to the back of the boat and removes the clips, which were significantly bent from his antics. So now the boat comes off the trailer and into the water. And now it is time to park the truck and trailer and enjoy the wonderful experience at the lake. Not!
As he climbs back into the cab of the truck, Bill realizes that he cannot take the transmission out of park. He struggles and fights it as the frustration level continues to rise.
But, this has happened before and he knew just what to do. His truck sometimes did this and he kept a large, long screwdriver behind the seat to use when it happens. So, he releases the hood, finds the linkage, places the screwdriver in just the right spot and hits it with his trusty hammer. The linkage released, but now the truck is rolling backward and into the lake. Before he can get in the door and behind the wheel, it is partially submerged with water pouring into the cab and our peanut gallery is at a fevered pitch with laughter and hoots.
Bill now struggles to get it out of the water and up the ramp. He is finally successful and takes the truck to the parking area. The guys in the boat get a few minutes to recuperate before the final act.
As he walks back down the ramp to the boat, Bill notices that the boat is sitting sort of awkwardly in the water. As he surveys this curious site, our audience begins to crank it up again and one of them laughingly says, “If you would put the drain plugs in before you put it in the water, it probably wouldn’t sink.”
So now he has to get completely in the water and struggle to get the plugs into the underside of the boat. Having accomplished that, Bill and his proud bride are ready to enjoy the lake and the sunshine. And he wanted more than anything to get away from his adoring fans!
So he starts the motors with a roar and the excitement and adrenaline take over. He revs the engines as high as he can, takes off and makes a big boastful sweep to let everyone know that he is finally in control. But he ventures too close to the shallows and hits a rock, knocking the propeller off the drive shaft. Now, he was dead in the water amid screaming laughter from the appreciative audience. Bill says, “One guy laughed so hard that he literally fell out of the boat and into the water.”
Then, after another ordeal of getting the wreckage back on the trailer, his wife comes around the front of the truck and Bill says, “In my most forceful voice, I said, ‘Don’t you even say one (blank) word!’”
You have to know that those guys that were entertained so inexpensively got a lot of mileage with this story. I’m sure their families loved for them to tell it over and over.
We had just finished a section in our conference that asked us to tell of our most embarrassing moment. When Bill finished his story, someone asked if this was his most embarrassing moment. He replied, “No, not even close. But we are not going to discuss that one.”