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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Bad Karma aboard S/V Blondie-Dog...

Among the advantages of having anchored in Boot Key Harbor, Marathon was the option of tuning in the VHF radio in the mornings to listen in on the Cruiser's Net.

...and for the uninitiated, the Net is a forum of sorts broadcasted on channel 68 and conducted by the City Marina. Cruisers can chime in with announcements of their own on this forum while being advised of upcoming social events and of other matters concerning the boating community.

In contrast, Dinner Key City Marina here in Coconut Grove does not offer such an amenity... possibly because there isn't a compelling need for one since most boat owners seem to reside off of their boats here in the harbor.

However the forum could get somewhat redundant after awhile with the same generic announcements being made day in and day out. It was easy to simply tune out after but a few days of listening in and not feel any less informed.

Besides there was always the Tiki-Hut as well as the Tree-of-Knowledge that one could hang out at while sipping on a few beers if one were really intent on getting clued in on what was going on throughout the harbor.

Nevertheless I did happen to tune in one morning and listen in on the commentary for whatever compelling reason and it was while listening that a fellow cruiser came on the radio advising fellow boaters to be aware of being overcharged when making purchases at a nearby general store popular among boaters.

Well that deliberate and measured commentary by a fellow cruiser got my attention and then got me to thinking of prior occasions when I too had felt overcharged after making a few purchases of my own while at that store.

Sure enough I was overcharged on two subsequent trips to the store but at least had the presence of mind to request that my purchases be tallied again before forking over payment. It was just too easy for the cashier to ring up a few extra purchases without the customer knowing any better.

The irony of it all is that throughout the store are signs posted advising customers that shoplifters will be summarily arrested and sent off to jail. Also posted throughout the store are a number of signs suggesting that customers smile for the security cameras as they scrutinize one's every move throughout the store.

Well it happened to be the very morning of my departure from my mooring ball in Boot Key Harbor when I decided to make a quick trek on over to the store and purchase a few essentials before taking off.

Sure enough I was overcharged yet once again only this time I happened to be in too much of a hurry to set sail and completely forgot about double-checking my receipt before paying.

My purchases had initially tallied just short of the ten dollar debit card minimum and while scrambling to a pick another item off the shelf, I got hit for another fictitious purchase. It was indeed an incidental amount rung up as "MISC $4.99" but it still hacked me off nonetheless.

It was only after I had trekked more than half way back to the marina that it dawned on me that I just might have been overcharged. Sure enough I had been indeed overcharged not by just one item but two.

Needless to say I was quite tempted to trek on back to the store to make a point and complain. However I had other immediate priorities such as setting sail before the day got away from me so instead I simply stewed over the matter.

Besides, I'd already left the store some fifteen or so minutes earlier. I should have emphatically double-checked my receipt and griped before paying no matter how long the line waiting behind me might have been.

So that in effect is how I spent my first day of sailing after taking off from Boot Key Harbor. I was relieved to have finally broken away from all the "noise" in that harbor and yet found myself fretting about a lousy $5.99 in overcharges.

(Hey geezer... you know who you are... I couldn't help but notice you tagging behind my ass throughout the entire store after I responded to an incoming call on my cell phone... What were you thinking?... that I was perhaps intent on stuffing a ten pound bag of ice in my hip pocket??

I would have preferred to take the call outside but the road noise simply made it too hard to hear. Go smoke another pack of cigarettes and go croak for all I care. How's that for bad karma?)

Memo to fellow boaters listening in on the Cruiser's Net... while patronizing this store, be sure to count not just the total number of items you wish to purchase before approaching the cash register but also be sure to count both the taxable and non-taxable items as well. It will make any overcharges that more readily identifiable.

Also guys... don't fall the cashier's ploy when she pauses a moment to rub her neck and complain about a neck pain... it's but a ploy to distract you as she rings up yet another fictitious purchase.

In any event I've used up the last last of my bad-karma plastic bags for disposing of my garbage aboard my boat. That should be the last of an unpleasant reminder.

It also occurs to me that anybody who thinks that live-aboard cruisers are somehow enlightened and impervious to mundane irritations and crap are misguided.

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