On Sunday I transported a tin boat that my buddy had bought to his home about an hour and 15 minutes away. And not just for fun either.
You see my buddy is one of those people you sometimes hear about who is living the best life he can with a severe and debilitating affliction: he does not have a boat trailer.
And, although this is extremely rare in rural Ontario, there are millions of people just like him. And, let me tell you, it breaks your heart.
The good news is we can talk about it now and by doing so remove the stigma.
For these are men and women, just like you and me, who have never had the experiences we all take for granted. Greasing bearings, trying to figure out why hitting the brake pedal makes the trailer lights give a left turn signal, hopping on one foot after smacking a shin on a trailer hitch – my buddy has not done any of these things. But, you know, I’ve never heard him complain once.
That’s because he is a fighter and has decided that not having a trailer is not going to stop him from having a boat. He knows that where there is a will, there is a way. As my drive on Sunday proved.
All this is to say, he refuses to let this define him. Despite my best efforts.
In fact, if you talk to him for a while, you will soon forget that he is dealing with this challenge at all. Outwardly, he appears just like you and me. Except that he has to car-top his boat.
I know. I know. But, he doesn’t want your pity.
Yesterday, he called me to say he dragged that tin boat for 100 yards down to the river at the end of his property, and I’ll admit my eyes welled up a bit. Yet I choked back those tears and just said, “Good for you pal. Good for you.”
One day, I imagine, we will live to see the day when by some miracle my buddy, and others like him get boat trailers of their own.
But right now, we need to address the issue.
If you have a heart, you are probably asking yourself, “what can I do?”
Well, first, don’t just assume, everyone you know who likes to fish and hunt has a boat trailer. Some people do not.
And, when you find out they lack a trailer, don’t just bend over backwards offering to help. Wait until they ask. Then another two weeks after that. That way, you’re not treating them any differently from the rest of your friends.
Oh, and when they come to you with hat in hand, don’t make them beg – much.
After all, for just half a tank of gas and three hours of your time, you can alleviate their suffering and show that you are there for them. And, later, remind them of it frequently.
Remember, these are people who, through no fault of their own, decided to buy a boat without thinking, even once, that they might need a trailer. And pointing that out to them, every time they call, is not really all that helpful – to them.
Instead, just recognize this is the hand they’ve been dealt.
And know that, in the end, all they really want you to do is pull for them.