boatman view

dust   view   thought















free life jackets 



Much has been written and discussed recently concerning the effects that high exposure to media has on us.  We are all affected by the messages of enticement and the messengers that attempt to persuade us to a designated decision or action.  The marketers want you to buy their products.  The politicians want you to buy their ideas.  The writers want you to buy what they are writing.  Often with the message repetitions, we become wanting to buy, wanting to believe. 


We get convinced by others and convince ourselves that we need to have certain products and certain ideas.


The issue at the moment is not whether this is good or bad.  It is just interesting how all of us are affected by media, and so many individuals trying to get us to do something they want us to do.  Bit by bit, we digest the data and form ‘our opinions’.  Of course, you and I may not be as vulnerable or as persuadable as some of our friends and neighbors.  We do seem to be a little bit sharper than most of them.


These various thoughts came to mind after a recent call from my friend Lucky.  He retired from sales and lives in Florida in spite of those election results.    He complains of media bias, complains that his write-in campaign quest for the presidency was pretty much ignored, and is still being ignored by the press. He thinks too much media ado was made of all those superficial issues of the other political parties.  The real issues of his Sand & Sea Shell party like cleaner beaches could not get any coverage. 


It seems all the focus was on the Democrats and the Republicans and healthcare and foreign policy and the economy and that kind of stuff.  I guess Lucky has a point.  I cannot recall anything at all on television or in the newspapers about Lucky the candidate or the Sand & Sea Shell party platform.  Did you see anything?  I am sure they had a party platform.  I know they had a party.  The press staggers on while mumbling about balanced coverage and seeking all viewpoints.


Lucky still has a slight limp from the time he lost half the big toe on his right foot to his encounter with the boat’s propeller. It was a boating accident, he would explain. What more can you say, he would explain.  This was the same summer he got tangled in the towrope somehow and pulled his arm out of joint.  The scar on his shoulder is from stubbing his remaining full big toe on the dock and falling into the boat.  Twelve or so stitches as I remember.  He is lucky he did not poke his eye out, he would explain.


It may not be widely known, but Lucky was the inventor of the “sales circle”.  It was his way of closing the sale.  After he had shown the dentist and his wife the beautiful sixteen foot pontoon boat, with anodized aluminum and cushioned seats, and offered to throw in four free life jackets, he wanted a decision.  He would point out how important it was that there is a life jacket for everyone on board. 


“Your family’s safety is just too vital to quibble over the cost of a life jacket”, he would tell them as he got life jackets off the display shelf and placed them in the boat.  He wanted them to have them for free with the purchase of their new pontoon boat, he would explain.  Well, usually the dentist and his wife had to think about it, or wanted to talk to each other about it.  “You know Lucky, this is a big decision we’re making here.”  He knew.


Early in the summer, Lucky would paint a large red circle on the concrete driveway just outside the show room.  Two or three people could stand almost comfortably within the boundaries of the circle.  Lucky would inform his valued customer that he valued their business.  The deal he is giving them is for a limited time and he respects them for wanting to think about it.  He explains this with great authority as he walks them to his sales circle.  They are told in near legal terms, not to leave the circle.  Discuss it, think about it, talk to each other, or not, but do not leave this circle and risk voiding this great deal.  He’d walk away.


Usually Lucky would go back into the show room, get a cold soda out of the refrigerator in the sales manager’s office, and check the television to see how the ballgame was going.  He was in no hurry.  He’d generally kill a little time, for maybe fifteen or twenty minutes.  He’d glance at the security camera to see that everyone was still in the circle, thinking about it.  We all marveled at how long people would stand in the circle, in the hot summer sun, not daring to step out of the circle and lose the deal.  His words and convincing delivery assured them that being in that circle was in their best interest.  It is amazing how some people can be manipulated.   Lucky closed a lot of deals, made a fortune before retiring to his beach condo.  He started giving away free sun lotion along with the free life jackets in his last couple seasons. 


Now Lucky was calling me to see if I wanted to buy his boat.  It’s a beautiful cabin cruiser with twin engines that I have admired often, he explained.  He stores it at the marina and only uses it for a few weeks each summer.   I’ve told him before how much I liked that boat.  It’s in real good condition.  He’s taken good care of it.  The price he’s asking sounds like a good deal.  He offered to throw in four free life jackets.  My family’s safety is just too vital to quibble over the cost of a life jacket.  The deal is very appealing and worth thinking about.


I’d really like to have that boat.  He was telling me that you just can hardly find them in this good of condition.  I’ve driven it around the lake.  It really handles nice.  It is a good boat.  It is a good deal he’s offering me, with the free life jackets and all.  Of course, I’ll have to think about it.  Lucky told me to think about it all I wanted to.  Standing here in my circle, the one Lucky painted in my driveway last summer.  I am thinking about it and waiting for Lucky to finish his soda and call me back.