By Richard E. Noble
Back in the old days when an oyster permit cost $5.00 and anyone could get one any month of the year, we often took visiting friends out oystering. Some wanted to go just for the experience and others needed the money.
On one occasion two good friends of ours stopped by as a surprise. They were older than we were. We had met them in central Florida picking oranges. They had retired early in life. They didn’t pick fruit because they needed the money but because Eldon couldn’t sit still. Marge would stay home and make machine quilts and Eldon would pick oranges. He picked oranges, apples, mushrooms, pine cones and even gathered up aluminum cans when nothing else was available. He had to be doing something. We got them their permits and they went oystering with us.
One day on their stay it was too rough to go out. We made a campfire and sat around shooting the breeze. We were staying at the Island View campground in Eastpoint which was right along the water’s edge. The boats were starting to trickle back in with their catch. One old boat was putzing along. It had a small motor and it was loaded down. The side rails seemed to be just inches above the water. It was bobbing up and down over the crests of the waves. Then suddenly as its nose came down the side of one crest a second wave crashed over the bow. The boat immediately began to founder. It was swamped.
Eldon leaped from his seat and went running down to the shoreline. “We’ve got to do something,” he screamed. “That boat is sinking.”
I knew that the boat would be long gone before I could ever get to it but Eldon insisted. I didn’t move. It was impossible.
While Eldon bounced up and down and ran back and forth along the shore, I stood there thinking out all the possibilities.
Just then a boat pulled up along side the sinking boat and then another boat came up along its other side. The men on the sinking boat began heaving their full bags of oysters onto the rescuing boats. Their boat was just about under when the two men on the sinking boat finally jumped to safety. I laughed. Those oystermen would let their boat and motor go under but they would save those bags of oysters. Eldon finally relaxed when the men were safely aboard the rescuing boats.
This experience made me wonder. Similar things have happened to me many times in the past. I wondered why it was that I always stood immobilized thinking of alternatives while other folks were jumping into action.
One time I was at a doctor’s office in Apalachicola. A physician’s assistant was checking me over when suddenly there was a loud bang outside. The physician’s assistant ran to the window. There had been a car crash at the intersection outside the doctor’s office. The man went running out into the street. I sat there on the examining table ... thinking. After I left the doctor’s office I asked myself why I hadn’t done anything. There was an accident outside and I just sat there twiddling my thumbs. But what could I do? I don’t know how to do anything.
My wife is also one of those action people. She hears a noise in the middle of the night and she jumps out of bed, grabs a flashlight and runs out into the darkness. By the time she returns to bed, I’ve reached a sitting position.
“Everything okay?” I ask.
“Yes, but no thanks to you,” is often her reply.
How come I always think before I act and other people are able to act spontaneously.
This has always bothered me. But not too long ago I was shopping with my wife over at the IGA. We were looking at the fruits and vegetables when this old man walked between us. He tripped and stumbled forward. Instantly, I ran over and grabbed the guy before he hit the ground. I straightened him up. He was nervous and shook up. I held him until he got his bearings.
“Thanks,” he said with an apologetic grin and moseyed on.
This had all happened in an instant. When I turned to my wife she was still picking through the tomatoes.
“Did you see that?” I said.
“Did you see me save that guy?”
“You saved him from what?”
“He stumbled and started to fall but I grabbed him and saved him from busting a hip. And I did it without thinking.”
“So what’s new? It seems to me you’ve been living all your life without much thinking.”
Noble Notes on Famous Folks is R.E. Noble’s latest publication. It is a book of lite, witty, and satirical essays on famous and infamous folks throughout history from Constantine to Bill Clinton. It is for sale on Amazon along with Richard’s several other works. Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived in Franklin County for thirty years. Businesses, bookstore, libraries etc can contact the author at 670-8076 or firstname.lastname@example.org for discounts and special offers.