For twenty-eight years I worked overseas, but that's past
history. Now I'm back home in the United States swimming with the
sharks. Exit Only is berthed in
Florida, and I am checking out life in the USA.
A lot of changes happened during my prolonged absence. When I
departed the US, gas was under fifty cents a gallon, and now it is nearly three
dollars. Before I left, I could purchase a good house for
eighty thousand dollars, and now in some places the same house costs more
than half a million. Back then, the American dream was affordable for
families who had only one wage earner. Now, the same lifestyle
requires full time employment by both the husband and wife. The
American Dream is no longer affordable if you want mom to stay at home and
take care of the kids.
I shouldn't have been surprised by these changes, because the same thing
happened in the sailing world. When I first went overseas, you could
get a seaworthy sailboat for forty-thousand dollars, but now most cruising
yachts cost four to five times that amount. When I first cast off my
dock lines an average size yacht was thirty-two to forty
feet in length. Now most cruising yachts are forty to fifty feet long. Twenty-five years ago people in
their thirties and forties were sailing around the world. Now, young people
can't afford to go sailing because yachts are so expensive. The only
people with enough money to buy a yacht and go cruising are senior citizens.
It's alarming to see how costs are spiraling out of control in North America
and Europe. What's happening can be summed up in one word, and that
word isn't inflation, it's greed. Businesses shamelessly prey
upon unwary shoppers. A couple of examples stand out in my mind.
When I purchased a new high frequency radio for my yacht, one
well-known marine store tried to charge five-hundred dollars more than another
supplier for the same
piece of radio gear. When I needed a fifty-amp pigtail adapter for shore
power, the adapter cost either $206, $160, or $130 depending on which store
I completed the transaction. That type of price gouging is all too
common in the land of the brave and home of the free. Tell me why
energy companies are making record profits during a fuel crisis, and
consumers are paying more than three dollars a gallon for gasoline.
The apostles of greed appear to be running the show, and we are their
A one day car rental in Fort Lauderdale was supposed to
cost twenty-eight dollars a day, but the rental company counseled me to take
out insurance for collision, bodily injury, and supplemental liability which
would cost an additional 34 dollars each day. They knew that I was
paying for the rental with my credit card and had insurance coverage from
the credit card company, as well as full coverage from my personal car
insurance policy. They lamely suggested that since it was raining
outside, the roads would be slick and additional insurance would be a good
idea. They were trying rip me off by selling duplicate coverage that I
didn't need, and they didn't even blink an eye or squirm as they attempted
to work their scam.
For the past month, I've been riding around south Florida
looking at billboards, and what I see shocks me. Lawyers are trying to
drum up business by fishing for lawsuits. Their advertisements say things
like, "Were you in a car accident? Are you in a hospital or nursing home?
Have you had a disagreement with your doctor? Give us a call, and we
will get you some money." The advertising must work, because there are
dozens of billboards preaching their flavor of the gospel of greed.
When I sailed the seven seas, it was rare to see sharks. Now that I am on dry land,
they surround me on
all sides. I'm swimming with sharks who want to have a feeding frenzy
in my wallet.
The real problem is that people are looking into my wallet rather than into
my heart. They don't really care about me, what I really need, or my limited resources.
They want my money, that's all.
It seems ironic that sharks never bothered me on the high seas, but on land
they are circling and closing in. Although, I'm getting used to swimming with
sharks, it's disappointing that so many people are only interested in my wallet.
Speaking of my wallet,
I've got an idea for a new business. I'm thinking about selling shark repellent. Every yachtie returning home from sailing around the world
needs to buy a
couple of cases, and illegal immigrants could use a few cans of shark
repellent as well. If my business takes off, I could become rich and
famous, and someday I might even be able to live my dreams. Hmm.
Come to think of it, I am already living my dreams, and I don't need to have
a shark repellent business in my life.
Pssst. Pssst. Do you hear that noise? That's the sound of
me spraying on shark repellent; I'm now covered in it from head to
toe. Good-bye sharks, and hello world.