I’d like to apologize to Keith. Although I really don’t know his name, for the purposes of this apology, I’ll just call him Keith. This week I finished my epic boat journey, bringing The Tug Life back from Fort Lauderdale to my home port of Urbana. It was smooth sailing until we ran into Keith. We were about a quarter-mile north of Osprey Marina in the deepest, darkest part of the Waccamaw River. That’s where he saw my boat. I didn’t see his.
I drove too fast past Keith’s boat, and for that, I want to apologize. In my defense, he was wearing camouflage from head to toe and in a boat that matched his outfit. Even his baseball cap was green like the swamp behind him. Keith must take his hunting and fishing seriously because he even painted his Mercury Outboard in a camouflage pattern. Emerging from the swamp, he rode up beside The Tug Life and gave me a middle finger salute. “You almost swamped my boat, you %^&* $!#$%^&”. Seeing a young man with a mullet and a Tom Selleck mustache chasing your boat at daybreak can be quite disconcerting. I tried to apologize and told him I couldn’t see him. The apology fell on deaf ears.
Under different circumstances, I am sure Keith and I could’ve been friends. We both like camo, boats, Bud Light and fishing. Instead our paths literally crossed at the wrong moment and I will forever be the “A-hole” who almost drowned him.
When was the last time you’ve had a real conflict with a stranger in your life? Do you ever wonder how it could have turned out differently? I’ve run across many many people over the course of my life and 99% of them have been positive experiences. But I’ve always tended to focus on the 1% I’ve had conflict with. How could I have solved that conflict? How could I have avoided it? The older I get the more I realize that “save the drama for your mama” might have been the best piece of advice I ever got. Most conflict is not just worth the aggravation. Dale Carnegie Rule #5: Smile.