Not Sinking In

BONEHEAD BLUNDER: Hearing but not listening
THE BONEHEADS: Most of eastern Virginia
BONEHEAD RATING: A full five (plus a few)
WHAT HAPPENED: By this time of the year, I usually have a stack of Boneheads incidents. This year, however, has provided weeks upon weeks of unrelenting rain, washing away most folks’ desire to go boating. At the same time the regular boaters were sluiced downstream, they were replaced by nebbishes from upstream. The possibility exists that they are Martians, as what they do and say leads me to believe they really are from another planet.

As a mobile mechanic, I need decent weather to get my jobs done. I count on a couple of quick oil changes during each week to give my brain a few minutes to concentrate on upcoming jobs that require thought. Yesterday I reviewed my list (again) and called customers (again) to reschedule. Of the 38 repair orders on my board — about 10 percent of my client list — only one was for an oil change. Thirteen were for electrical diagnosis and repair, and 24 were for fuel-related problems.

To a one, the 24 fuel issues involved folks who have been spirited away on spaceships and replaced by Martians who have no clue that the boating industry is battling fuel mandated to have the same qualities as corn syrup. When I taught marine tech at the community college, I encouraged my students to ask “why?” I wanted them to get right down in the gutters with me and ask:
“Why did you buy a new $20,000 outboard for your 20-year-old boat with an aluminum gas tank and elect to not install a water separator filter for $50?”

“Why do you think fuel injection, because of its technology, is immune to the same outside factors that bring carburetors to their knees?”

“Why do you think they make plastic fuel carry-cans in different colors? Say … red for gasoline and yellow for diesel?”

“Why do you think that the carry-can you found in the shed even has gas in it? It might be Uncle John’s potty for his workshop. Or kerosene for his space heater. What color is the can, anyway?”

“If you know that marinas who charge far more than I are backed up at least four weeks, why do you think I’m sitting at home reading a magazine waiting for you to ask me to ‘slip by’ your place 80 miles up-country?”

“Why do you attend my seminars, listen to me tell you the ramifications of the wrong way of doing things — and passionately beg you to do them the proper way — then go right out and do them wrong? Perfectly!”

I’m of the age I expect boat owners to think. If I take a Saturday away from my family to teach folks for free how to respect their engines and “do the right thing,” then if they don’t, they should understand it will cost them serious bucks. Especially if I have to “slip by” a summer home 80 miles up the road.

LESSON LEARNED: I despair. I don’t believe boaters in the heat of racing to the water will ever, ever think. Ever. Each time I think I’ve taught them well, I find the lesson they learned lying in the ditch, right next to a roller from their trailer.

Bonehead Blunders


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