Wait For It… a blog by Andy Ross

Steamboat Piloting

Posted on May 31, 2010


Piloting a riverboat is not to be taken lightly. You’ve got surface currents, undercurrents, rocks, submerged branches, and don’t forget about the other boats. I’m just saying, if you insist on dropping out of college to be a riverboat captain, at least have a fallback option.

Your mother and I worry. That’s just how it is. That’s how it’s always gonna be. We love you, and we want what’s best for you. And, if you truly believe that means taking the helm of an old-timey steamboat and heading down the Mighty Mississippi, than we will support your decision. But, until then, maybe you can take an accounting class and see if you like that, too.

I understand where you are coming from with the steamboat thing. When I was your age, I wanted to start a rock and roll band. Instead, I stayed in school, and I practiced guitar on the weekends in the garage. Now, I’m a successful actuary, and you know what? Without my career in life insurance, I could never have bought that Fender Telecaster in the den. I’m just saying, maybe you want to keep the thing that you love a hobby.

Because, once you get out there in the real world of riverboat piloting, it becomes a job just like anything else. I mean, sure, there’s the prestige and the glamour of it, but it’s still hard work. A daily grind even. I’ve seen you behind the helm of a steamer; I’ve seen the gleam in your eyes. Honestly, I don’t want you to lose the fantasy of it. I worry that it won’t live up to the dream.

So, how ‘bout we say this? How about you finish up this semester? Then, this summer, we go out and find you an antebellum steamboat--something small at first, not a full casino on board, just a few poker tables. We’ll see how that goes before we make a final decision about school.

And, you can start growing out your handlebar moustache now. That’s how serious I am about giving this idea a try. Don’t worry about your mother; I’ll get her onboard.

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