My First Boat – 1980

Some men have dreams of owning different types of big boy toys. These toys cost big bucks compared to the toys we had when we were young. Some men would love to have a motorcycle while others would be really excited to have a little sports car. Lots of men would be excited to own lake front property or season tickets to a really good football or basketball team.

On a side note, as men get older and continue to desire these different items, they are badgered and accused of having a “Mid-Life Crisis.” I have heard this phrase dozens if not hundreds of times from my wife and kids. At this writing I’m 51 years old and I am here to tell you, I have not, nor expect to have a Mid Life Crisis. I have continuously desired various different materialistic things over the past ½ century and this desire has not increased or decreased in intensity as a result of my age. I regularly tell my wife that my desire for these materialistic things is nothing more than a plan. I plan to have a motorcycle (and I did), a sports car (and I do) and a boat (which I did).

Ok, back to the story of my first boat.

In the early 1980’s I worked at Neutron Products in Dickerson Md. This was a radiation facility where approximately 50 people worked. I worked in the chemical plant area of the facility.

One evening while at home with my wife I got a letter from a marketing company. They told me that a well known European boat company hired them to help promote their boats in the United States and that they were giving away a bunch of these boats to people who lived in the Maryland area, near small lakes and rivers. I lived near both the Monocacy & Potomac rivers.

The dude on the phone told me that I had won a boat. Go figure, I never win anything and now I won a boat.

Not just any boat, it was a pontoon boat large enough to hold 6 people with a trolling motor. Now, I am somewhat untrusting of most marketing and sales people, so I asked what I thought was a hundred questions. Then I got hit with the hook. I had to pay the shipping for the boat – $125 freight charge.

The marketing dude had me hooked. Every question I asked him was answered with even more great statements of how fabulous this boat was and why I should pay the shipping costs for such a fabulous pontoon boat.

The dude told me that they needed me to give them a review of the boat and in order to be fair to the marketing process they could not give the boat to me. In order to get around this requirement they had to have me pay something toward the cost of the boat. He assured me that the small fee they were asking me to pay would far outweigh the significant value of the pontoon boat. This guy was really good and had me nearly begging him for the boat.

Disclaimer – I was only 20 years old!!!

OK, I gave the guy my credit card # for the shipping fee.

Now, remember, this was back in the early 1980’s. Credit card scams were not very popular back then and I had no real fear of that scam.

I told the guy to ship my boat to Neutron since I knew it would be too large to be dropped off at the townhouse we lived in. And besides, I had the truck and would be able to haul it home in the bed of the truck.

Now, as a cocky 20 year old, I did what any other 20 year old would do. I went to work and told everyone that I had won a boat. I told the ladies in the reception area of the plant to let me know when the delivery truck arrived so that I could come help load the boat into the back of my truck. I told everyone that as soon as I got the boat I would host a party on the river.

A bunch of my friends even asked to use the boat one weekend to go fishing. Of course, being a new boat owner, I told them sure. No problem.

About a week went by before the delivery came. I expected this; it was not like the boat was a little item.

Then the day came. In the middle of the day, I was working in the plant when the receptionist paged me.

“Teddy, come to the lobby. Your boat is being delivered. Teddy – your boat is in the lobby.”

I ran up to the lobby to find my boat. On the floor in the lobby was a box about 8” thick, 3’ long and 2’ tall.

OK, I was floored. The boat was a rubber raft. Just like the ones you could buy from the local boat shop for about $125.

All of my buddies at work got a great laugh out of that. I took it like a man. I called the marketing company and complained until I was blue in the face. They did not care. I agreed to pay the shipping for a pontoon boat and that was what they shipped to me. Too bad.

Before I hung the phone up, the guy asked me if I planned to fill out the survey card that I agreed to originally. All I could do was laugh at the guy, and myself.

That was my first boat. I believe it dry rotted a long time ago. The paddles are still in the garage.

This is yet another story from Teddy Burriss – maybe, just maybe you will laugh with me.