Having just suffered my first loss in a criminal jury trial, my mind was unable to resist wandering to more pleasant things.
My mind inextricably drifted to an experience during my recent vacation.
I became an attorney to help people, not try to get rich. Anyone who knows me well will see the evidence of this philosophy. As a result, it is not uncommon for me to see people earning substantially more money while also appearing to have a very good time.
I met one of these people in Alabama. He left a good paying job as a computer programmer to become a charter sailboat captain.
For my whole life (since I was 3), I have loved sailing. I have even published an article on one of my sailing experiences in, "Latitudes and Attitudes," a magazine with international circulation about the cruising lifestyle.
A handful of years ago, I resolved that I would probably never retire. Rather, I decided that a bit later in life, I would have a second career. I resolved on becoming a charter sailboat captain.
As I mentioned in my previous column, I would generally prefer to not take a vacation. Extended weekends are typically great. Vacations, however, are just invitations for things to go wrong.
As an enticement, my beloved wife reserved a four-hour cruise on a charter sailboat. I could almost hear the theme song for "Gilligan's Island" start to play.
The idea of paying someone $400 to go sailing did not sit well with me. However, it was an opportunity to have an eyeball view of the business. It also gave my beloved an opportunity to settle some nerves about the possibility of doing it ourselves. I begrudgingly agreed to pay for the cruise.
The appointed day was gorgeous. The day was warm, but not scorching. The breeze was fresh, but the water remained substantially flat. Shortly after we parked our car, the boat was returning to port, the captain struck the sails and eased into his slip with the grace that all sailors dream about. (If you are ever going to have a less than perfect docking, it will always be when a crowd is watching!).
The passengers who disembarked had smiles and the barefooted captain warmly welcomed us aboard. He helped us onto his vessel and gave his safety speech. Once everyone and everything was secured, the mooring lines were cast off and we wound our way into open water.
Once we were on a comfortable reach, our captain set the autopilot and cast a fishing lure to be dragged behind us. The captain and I spent a fair amount of time "talking shop;" the cost and frequency of maintenance and repairs, the age and condition of his boat and the number of passengers he takes daily.
The 40-foot boat was about 20-years-old and in serviceable, but not pristine, condition. Most of the teak trim showed considerable wear. At least one cleat was missing and two forward chocks were broken. The sails, while quite serviceable, were starting to get a bit thin and a little out of shape.
As the captain was reeling in a King Mackerel, he explained that on this particular Tuesday in May (well before tourist season) he had a four-hour cruise in the morning, our four-hour afternoon cruise, and a three-hour sunset cruise. A full day of getting paid for sailing and fishing on a beautiful day.
After we get back to the slip, I am provided an invoice for $400, which conveniently provided a line to include a tip.
Let me get this straight: On an ordinary Tuesday, outside of the tourist season, this 30-something guy with a 20-year-old boat in need of maintenance, gets to go sailing virtually every day, wear cutoff pants, in his bare feet, catch fish, while making $1,000 per day plus tips?
I have soooo chosen the wrong job.