What would you
like to do now?
- Return to Home Page
- View Books by this Author
- Read the Reflections Blog
- Read the Poetry Archive
- Read Movie Reviews
- Look at Terry's Photos
- View Debra's Art
- 1 item is tagged with 3rd Rock from the Sun
- 1 item is tagged with al Qaeda
- 1 item is tagged with Appomattox
- 1 item is tagged with attraction
- 1 item is tagged with Barack Obama
- 1 item is tagged with Boston Legal
- 1 item is tagged with Bradley Manning
- 1 item is tagged with Bristol Palin
- 1 item is tagged with Brothers Karamozov
- 1 item is tagged with Chamberlain
- 1 item is tagged with character
- 1 item is tagged with Charlton Heston
- 1 item is tagged with Civil War
- 1 item is tagged with classified
- 1 item is tagged with comedy
- 1 item is tagged with Confederate
- 1 item is tagged with Dancing with the Stars
- 1 item is tagged with Democrats
- 1 item is tagged with Denver Broncos
- 1 item is tagged with documents
- 1 item is tagged with expressiveness
- 1 item is tagged with film
- 1 item is tagged with football
- 1 item is tagged with Fox News
- 1 item is tagged with Gary Cooper
- 1 item is tagged with Gene Hackman
- 1 item is tagged with Gettysburg
- 1 item is tagged with Grace Kelly
- 1 item is tagged with High Noon
- 1 item is tagged with history
- 1 item is tagged with Indianapolis Colts
- 1 item is tagged with influence
- 1 item is tagged with information
- 1 item is tagged with James Dean
- 1 item is tagged with John McCain
- 1 item is tagged with Kenny McKinley
- 1 item is tagged with knowledge
- 1 item is tagged with Kyle Orton
- 1 item is tagged with Lincoln
- 1 item is tagged with Miss Congeniality
- 1 item is tagged with moral
- 1 item is tagged with morality
- 1 item is tagged with movies
- 1 item is tagged with Nebraska Cornhuskers
- 1 item is tagged with network
- 1 item is tagged with NFL
- 1 item is tagged with Paul Newman
- 1 item is tagged with Pentagon
- 1 item is tagged with Peyton Manning
- 1 item is tagged with power
- 1 item is tagged with Quebec
- 1 item is tagged with Republicans
- 1 item is tagged with reputation
- 1 item is tagged with resources
- 1 item is tagged with Robert Redford
- 1 item is tagged with role
- 1 item is tagged with Sarah Palin
- 1 item is tagged with Shakespeare
- 1 item is tagged with Star Trek
- 1 item is tagged with stories
- 1 item is tagged with Superbowl
- 1 item is tagged with T. J. Hooker
- 1 item is tagged with Taliban
- 1 item is tagged with Tea Party
- 1 item is tagged with television
- 1 item is tagged with The Practice
- 1 item is tagged with U.S. Army
- 1 item is tagged with Union
- 1 item is tagged with war crimes
- 1 item is tagged with western
- 1 item is tagged with Wikileaks
- 1 item is tagged with William Shatner
I Stole Roger Penske's Welcome Mat
It was a hot, humid evening in Key Largo. Steam rose off the sidewalks, and mosquitoes circled us like Navy fighters waiting to land on an aircraft carrier. We were desperate.
They’d broken the twenty members of our leadership workshop into four teams, allowed us just one hour to complete our mission, and given us a list of difficult items to find: things like a hymnal, a beer mug with a Bud Lite emblem, a clothespin with an item of clothing attached, a tricycle, a bowling pin, and, worst of all, an item from one of three of the luxury yachts now in port bearing the name of the yacht. Most items were worth 25 or 50 points each, but the item bearing the yacht’s name was the grand prize. It alone was worth 500 points, enough to tip the scales heavily in favor of whichever team snagged that prize.
Four teams, three yachts. It was a game of odd man out, and we were determined to nail that item first. So we climbed on board our golf cart and blazed a trail to the marina. (Well, in a golf cart it was more like grazing a trail, but we went as fast as that worn-out chariot would go carrying five pudgy middle-aged men.) Alas, when we arrived at the first of the luxury yachts, we found that Team A had beaten us. Worse, Team A was led by a buxom blonde, a real cutie pie, who could charm the venom out of a cobra. As we arrived at the yacht, she emerged triumphantly from the main cabin and held one of the yacht’s signature tee-shirts above her pretty head, waving it like a victory flag. Her perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth gleaming, she led her team in a celebratory dance with moves that had everyone on the dock mesmerized. The spell broke when her team realized we stood on the dock behind them, and then they turned and, to a man, gave us the “L” sign on their foreheads: “Losers!”
With shame seared into our souls, we turned back to our golf cart and clambered on to see if we could find the next yacht on the list. After 15 minutes of frantic searching, we discovered that the second luxury yacht was indeed in port—but it was not in its assigned berth! The owners had apparently taken it out earlier that day. It now sat at anchor in the harbor like that mythical pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. The yacht was ablaze with lights. Someone was home. A party was going on. But all we could think of was to have one guy swim to the yacht, climb the anchor rope, then somehow scramble up onto the deck and cavalierly announce his presence to people who would likely be astonished to find a dripping-wet, balding intruder onboard. Surely such aplomb would warrant a signature cocktail napkin or wine glass or hand towel. James Bond could have pulled it off while the opening credits were still rolling, but he wasn’t on our team, so we resigned ourselves to finding the third and final yacht on our list.
Its berth lay at the end of a long, dark pier. We were heartened to see that it was tied to the dock—and there were lights on somewhere in its vast interior. Let me say at this point that the word yacht would hardly do this ship justice. It was more like a Navy cruiser. Eighty yards long if it was a foot, this beauty had more stories than Bill Cosby, all of them polished and gleaming in the twilight. You could spend a year walking around on this luxury liner and never set foot in the same place twice. And it belonged to Roger Penske.
The legendary Roger Penske—race car driver in the early sixties, member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, owner of Penske Racing and the Penske Automotive Group and Penske Truck Leasing (you see their trucks everywhere), and God knows what else. Rich, famous, accomplished—that Roger Penske. (Did I mention rich?)
We knew it was his yacht because at the foot of the gangplank that led up to his ship there was a large black rubber welcome mat bearing his name and the name of the yacht.
Someone had to be on board. There were lights, way up on what looked like the third or fourth deck. I might be exaggerating. I’d had one or two margaritas before we left on this scavenger hunt. But I swear I had to crane my neck up at least seventy degrees to see those lights.
There was a doorbell, believe it or not, at the foot of the gangplank, and we pushed it numerous times—hearing nothing and getting no response. Maybe it was disconnected. We waited. Maybe whoever was in there was asleep. No, it was too early. Maybe they were . . . engaged in something that couldn’t be interrupted. We waited. We pushed the doorbell again. We debated what to do. It was a hot and humid and growing darker. Our time was running out. We decided to split up. Three of our team members left to find the other items on our list. I and another guy remained at Penske’s yacht. Neither of us had the nerve to just brazenly go up the gangplank and knock on the door of the cabin with the lights on. On a ship this size, the people on board might be suspicious of unwelcome guests. They might be armed. And unhappy to see us.
So we left. We walked back to our golf cart, which the other guys on our team had left for us, and sat there experiencing the agony of defeat. Then a wild impulse struck me like a drunk in a bar fight. I ran back down that long, lonely dock. I stood at the foot of Roger Penske’s yacht and glanced around. Seeing no guards, no night watchmen, no police, and no boat people with cell phones—I bent down and rolled up Penske’s welcome mat, tucked it under my arm, and ran.
“What the hell did you do?” my companion said as I jumped into the golf cart, cradling the prize in my lap.
“Just drive,” I yelled. “Quickly.” He punched the pedal and our aging golf cart whirred to life.
We got out of there like turtles with our tails on fire and found our teammates minutes later at the Key Largo Congregational Church, where they were creeping out of a side door with a purloined hymnal.
I’m sorry to say that we didn’t win the scavenger hunt. Despite being one of the two teams that scored a signature item from a luxury yacht, we and Team A (led by Miss Gorgeous) were beaten by another team that devoted all their time to finding the majority of the smaller items on the list and wound up outscoring everybody. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
At the end of the evening, after more margaritas, and the teams sharing hilarious stories of plunder, we returned the items we had “borrowed” from various people and places in Key Largo, including Roger Penske’s welcome mat. When I crept back to his yacht, the lights in that cabin were now out. I don’t know if Roger himself was there that night, but as I unrolled his welcome mat I silently thanked whoever it was for unknowingly lending my team what we hoped would help us win the game. But as I have heard many times in my life, crime doesn’t pay.
Photo credits: Loser photo ©Christian Wheatley/istockphoto.com; This-is-not-Roger-Penske’s-yacht-but-his-looked-like-this photo ©RTimages/istockphoto.com; Roger Penske (looking unhappy) photo source unknown.
© Terry R. Bacon
How to contact me...