Don't Sink the Stink
by Zeke Callanan
There is a part of life (here, it is considered an event) that I personally never valued highly, but people in other spots of this country find necessary to complete a full day. In the world of raft guides, I soon found out, no matter your size, sex, or hairiness, one act once so highly regarded in your former life becomes nearly obsolete; not forgotten, but displaced to the bottom of one's list of priorities, behind drinking beer, volleyball, and play runs. It is, my friends, The Shower.
Countless excuses disguised as reasons (or is it vice versa?) explain the lack of necessity for the weekly traditional cleansing. Just ask any guide: The optimist: "The river cleans me." The denier: "It's not me, dude, I think it's you…or her." The realist: "Oh that, that's just the river. I like the river." The cheapskate: "It's too expensive." Mr. Bandwagon: "It's cool, everybody's not doin' it." And the classic: "I don't have time." (Okay, so that one nobody buys.) The list goes on and on.
No, the real reason, of course, is that The Shower invites bugs to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Especially those damned black flies.
And when you do take one, you actually have something to write home about:
Dear Mom, You'll never believe what happened! That bottle of Suave you got me in May…it actually got used! Well, not by me, but Jonie got melted cheese in her hair and guess who was the hero of the week? Yup, ME! And they even gave me a free company bumper sticker! Anyway, gotta go.
p.s. A rock called Fist of God punched me in the nuts on Tuesday, but they're okay now.
It has become accepted, even status quo, that the raft guide stay…um, not dirty, but…seasoned. In some cases, the extent to which one neglects throwing down the 50 cents (exactly one half her or his daily pay) for The Shower is a mark of accomplishment. I know a couple five-year guides who have yet to do it this summer (and because of this they've saved enough to buy a six-pack of tall boys for the weekend). In fact, fellow guides get suspicious when another makes an unexpected stab at The Shower: "Guy, did you finally get a date with that girl who holds the stop/slow sign?"
There comes a time, though, in every guide's month where the decision is made for them. "Man, I lost my whole crew before Taster Rapid, and none of 'em would get back in. I don't get it." "Yeah, buddy, I think they caught a whiff of Funk Wave a little early. Here's a couple quarters and a bar of Irish Spring." So the time has finally come for you to take the walk of shame (or fame, to those you're near) to The Shower. Half of all guides aren't even sure how to do it anymore (I still remind my brother that PFD and helmet need not apply).
So, be a raft guide's friend and acknowledge the efforts she or he makes: Buy them a beer, pat them on the back (with an extra long paddle), and say, "Hey. Thanks for saving the water."
This Story's Even Dirtier
by Amy Leppo
Have you ever had any of your paddling shit stolen from you? Have you ever had your car broken in to? I officially joined the victims' club. That is right. On the evening of July 4, someone celebrated their American independence by stealing my dry top, splash top, fuzzy rubber, polypro, spray skirt, mesh bag, Leatherman, cd changer, my music collection and get this…My bag of laundry. I have no bras left. They stole three. Bastards. My stinky purple REI top was found a little ways down the road. I think it stunk so badly that they hucked it. The worst part about being robbed? The slow realization curve that accompanies theft. At first, I think I made a mistake. Then, I think someone is playing a trick on me (denial). And then, realizing my gear is gone. At this point I have opened my doors and trunk 50 times in an obsessive panic. This was sure to destroy any fingerprints left by the elves of darkness. Then, rock bottom…. Looking in the trunk at an empty space where my cd changer used to be.
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I pulled a Nancy Kerrigan "why me?" rant for a little bit. That made me feel worse, considering my good friend lost about 5 times as much as I did and he was keeping it together. I swear I heard the cop say "awh, shucks. If only I had a license plate number." I asked him if his dog, Flash, was in the car. He didn't know what I was talking about.
It has been going on a week and I still haven't been back out on the water. Gear replacement, ugh… So, get some renter's insurance. Car insurance won't cover this type of stuff. And for cryin' out loud, lock your shit!
Paddlers Always Write works like this: No Umbrella offers a specific topic for paddlers (or any reader) to write about for each issue. For example, the next topic is "River Rescue." Paddlers write in with a story, an essay, a poem, a useful tip, or a complaint loosely based around "River Rescue", and No Umbrella will print all the submissions in this section in the June 19 issue. Get it? Good... Now get writing.
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