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September 25, 2023

Backing Up

By Robert Paul Allen

Backing Up

Fred was so excited to get his new boat,
a twenty-one-foot Boston Whaler.
He had never trailered a boat before
but how challenging could it be?

He watched a U-tube video which instructed
him to turn the steering wheel the opposite
way you want the boat to go as you back up.
Simple. The big day came to put the Whaler

in the water. He waited his turn at the landing
then brought the boat forward to align it with
the concrete and steel ramp. He started backing
up, the boat went the opposite way he expected

and headed for some boulders. He tried again,
it went towards some parked cars, people scattered.
The mirrors confused him. If he looked at them,
was he supposed to turn the wheel the opposite

of the opposite way he wanted the trailer to go?
He was determined to succeed but soon a line
of people waiting to put boats in the water
snaked behind him. In the water a group

of boats idled, waiting to be pulled out.
A group of men wearing baseball caps gathered,
stood akimbo, gestured, and offered advice.
“Cut it to the right, no not that right, the other right,

now sharp left, no not that left. Stop, pull forward,
start over.” Fred’s insides were in a knot, and he had
hip pain from sitting on an object in his back pocket.
But he was no quitter, and pressed on, again and again.

At last, a middle-aged woman approached him, asserting,
“I used to drive truck, honey, move ovah and lemme
do this.” Fred slid over in the cab and in twelve
seconds his Boston Whaler was floating in the bay.

The crowd gave her a standing ovation, she laughed
and responded with a mock bow. Fred pulled his hat
down, avoided their gaze, parked his truck and trailer,
and headed toward the Whaler. Its bow had elevated,

the stern was filling with water. He reached back
to remove that painful object in his pocket,
knowing full well that after he had done so,
he would be staring at his boat plug.

Article © Robert Paul Allen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-07-03
Image(s) are public domain.
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