Chris doesn’t have a computer. And he doesn’t want one. He’s my age and works at the Dobleski Marina as a mechanic. He has a house, family, couple of cars, and of course lives near the lake.
The shop has a few dozen men, and one day the boss switched to a new company to handle everybody’s benefits. This required the men to go on line with their “pass codes” and enter information. One by one the men came into the office to do so.
The first started pecking around with one finger, asking for help with the mouse. The boss asked, “What’s the matter. Don’t you know how to use a computer?”
“Nope. Don’t have one.”
Same thing with Chris—and with about a third of the men. No computer, no internet access at home. Why? They see no need for it. Chris said, “It’s a waste of time.” Costs too much, too.
“My boss said, ‘Why don’t you have the internet. It’s great!’ and he proceeded to show me some thing that took an hour to get it to work. Why do I need that?”
Chris also doesn’t have cable television. He had it once, but the company started raising the rates, raised them some more, and then raised them again. Chris called it quits. Said TV is a waste of time anyway. But to please his daughter he bought an antenna. He now gets five channels, and sometimes six if the weather is just right.
You probably already know, but Chris doesn’t have a smart phone, either. And he isn’t alone. Many people up here just don’t see the need.
Now the lake Chris lives on is a big one and the town is one with a lot of rich folks from down south who have summer mansions, in which they spend a week or four a year. These people aren’t any different than anybody else and like to play, but having orders of magnitude more money than most, their toys are shinier—and most of them float.
It’s Chris’s job to fix these toys. Last week, he had to fetch a 59-foot beauty from point A and drive it to point B, about thirty-some miles away. He drove the work boat over to get it (and towed it back), and took along Mitch who spends most of his days inside. Mitch is a detailer.
Now the person who owned that big boat also drives from A to B every now and then. That trip, a popular route, is the reason he bought the boat, and is why he pays for its docking and maintenance. Since the maintenance is expert, it isn’t cheap. Would you know how to fix the motor of one of these things?
The men at the marina are outside most of the summer, and even into the fall and part of the winter. They try to get the inside work done before January, because the building which houses the boats isn’t heated. And boy can it get cold up here, with plenty of snow.
Another fellow bought a fancy new boat and thought something was funny with it, so he called the marina to have somebody take a look at it. Chris was dispatched. Back out onto the lake, the sun shining, the wind just so. Tigers on the radio.
The man was waiting. He said, “My boat smells like water.”
Chris knew enough not to laugh and tried to get the man to explain more carefully what he meant. Well, he meant what he said. When he went below decks, he thought he smelled water.
Now it was costing plenty for Chris to come down and inspect the boat, and to give the man the feeling that he was getting something for his money, Chris told him that boats tend to smell that way, but if he liked he could run his dehumidifier once in a while.
This advice greatly cheered the man, who paid the hefty fee, and Chris got back into the work boat heading north. The sun was still shining.
Chris is gratefully these rich folk want to play in his back yard. If they weren’t there, the 59-foot boats wouldn’t be there, a source of beauty would go missing, and far fewer people up north could make a living. And although Yours Truly didn’t talk with any, it’s a good bet these rich folks are glad people like Chris are around, too.
The names have all been changed, but the story hasn’t.