First of All, I Wasn’t Really Bragging

I recently wrote about meeting an important man and, in the comments that followed, I was reminded of my encounter with a man last summer that resulted in me yelling at the man so loudly and often that his child started to cry. Other than the trauma suffered by a small child, it’s a funny story — at least the way I tell it — but I have often wondered how the man I yelled at would tell it.

Maybe he would send me an email and I would provide a snip of it to convince you of its authenticity, posting the complete text (and photos) below. 

“Dear Mr. Gordon,

In a recent comment to one of your posts, you bragged about the way you can yell at people and make their children cry. You then mentioned a man with a second home near your village who has upset your fellow townsfolk. I believe I am the man of whom you speak.

I paid almost two million dollars to build my big house on the hill and my family enjoys looking down on your little village every one of the six times we are there each year. For some reason, the locals have developed a distinct dislike for me and my family that I do not understand.

I remember well the first time you and I met. It was a beautiful Friday morning and I had decided to take my three year old son fishing. We stopped first at the local village market to get some deli food for a little picnic and some worms to catch fish. I also needed a restroom.

The girl at the register wouldn’t give me the key to the restroom and asked if I had seen the sign on the door. Well, maybe someone had fixed it and forgotten to take down the sign, but the girl would not go check even though I told her to, twice.

I stood at the deli counter for several minutes, ringing and ringing the little bell, but could get no service. The girl from the register finally came back but all she did was throw the bell in the trash and point to another one of her little signs.

Then she pointed at pointed at the clock like I didn’t know it was 8:15 and refused to open 45 minutes early even though I told her I knew she could if she wanted to. She wasn’t very helpful at all. She wouldn’t check the worms I bought to make sure they were alive and when I asked if my son and I could go fishing at Fish in a Barrel Pond she just said “no” so that is where we went. I know how the locals like to lie about things like that.

My son and I had not been on the boat dock for more than two minutes when you showed up. Do you remember what you said to me, Mr. Gordon? I do. You said, “Good morning.” When I didn’t respond, you said, “Hello?” so I acknowledged your presence with a nod and continued trying to get a worm onto a hook but you interrupted me again.

You said, “I have to tell you you are on private property.”

I said, “So?” and you said, “So, you have to leave.”

I asked why and you said because I was on private property. You asked if I had seen the sign in front of my car that read “Members and Guests Only” and I said yes. You asked if I had seen the bright orange No Trespassing signs and I said yes. Then you asked if I had seen the sign at the top of the stairs to the dock that said “Private” and again I said yes but I didn’t understand your point. I pretended to understand — just so you would leave — but you would not. You just kept saying, over and over, “You’re on private property and you are being asked to leave.” You must have said that 11 times.

Do you have any idea how irritating that was, Mr. Gordon? I told you several times that I didn’t think anyone would mind if my son and I fished there but you were bothering us so much I decided to take my pole, my worms and my son somewhere else. It was very rude of you to stand there the way you did, watching us go.

I drove down the road, just to get away from you, and parked. My son was reluctant to get out but I had said I was taking him fishing and I am a man of my word. He did a good job of keeping up as I pulled him across the road on his tippy-toes, but before we were even half-way to the dock on that side of the lake, you were yelling at us from a hundred yards away. You asked if I thought you were kidding when you told me I couldn’t be there and, yes, I saw your signs down there, too.  

You were upon us in a flash but I stood my ground, didn’t I? I told you to call the police but you refused. You said the State Police had more important things to do than deal with the likes of me and that if I wanted the cops involved I should call them myself. Then, as I stood in the shade of your considerable shadow, I looked up and told you I wanted to speak to someone in authority.

It was nice of you to explain how Fish in a Barrel Pond has been private property for more than 120 years and that part of your job is to enforce that, and how that should be all the authority anyone should need but, again, I didn’t get your point. Pulling my son from his hiding place behind my legs, I tried to go around you but you stepped into my way. If my son hadn’t suddenly sat down, saying, “No,no,no!” I might have made it.

To keep you away, at a safe distance, I shook my fish pole at you and watched your expression as my red and white bobber danced in front of your nose. Your expression did not change until your belly was six inches from my face and I said, “I have an attorney and I’m not afraid to use him so you’d better not touch anyone!”

I don’t know why you smiled, Mr. Gordon, but you certainly did a good job of not touching anyone as you inched forward, saying, “You’re on private property and you are being asked to leave.”

Do you remember what I did next, Mr. Gordon? I said, “Make me.”

Do you remember what you did next? I’ll tell you. You raised your voice, like you thought maybe I couldn’t hear you, and told me for the 13th time that I was on private property and was being asked to leave.

I said, “Don’t touch anyone!” and you repeated yourself, louder and closer, for the 14th time.

I had to step back to keep your stomach from touching my nose as you informed me for the 15th, 16th and 17th times that I was on private property and was being asked to leave. No matter what I said to you, you kept saying, “You’re on private property and you are being asked to leave,” louder and louder.

I asked what would happen if I didn’t leave and all you had to say was “You’re on private property and you are being asked to leave,” for the 18th time. I asked how long you were going to harrass me and you said, “All darn day if I have to,” but then it was back to that old line about me being on private property and being asked to leave.

You told me and told me and told me but I just wouldn’t listen to you. You told me 24 times that I was on private property and that I was being asked to leave, getting louder and louder and advancing toward me, inch by inch all the while. I nearly tripped over my little three year old son, who was again hiding behind my legs, as you launched into your 25th repetition of your stock phrase. It bothered me, Mr. Gordon, that you would endanger my child like that, and that is why I tried, one more time, for some clarification regarding your position.

Nothing was made clear at all by the bellow you let loose. My glasses fogged, my hat flew off and my hair blew back as you told me for the 26th time that I was on private property but, instead of being asked to leave, you were demanding in no uncertain terms that I vacate the property immediately.

It took a moment for my glasses to clear and for my hearing to return. When I could see again, you were still there, looming over me, glaring down, and when I could hear again what I heard was my son crying.

“Look what you’ve done,” I said. “Now you’ve made him cry!”

I couldn’t understand all the words you screamed at me as I walked back to my car with my son lagging behind. You were still yelling as I was forced to go back and take him by his little wrist and I am sure you could tell how badly he had wanted to catch a fish by the way his little feet dragged in the dirt as I swiftly led him away. You yelled something about how this whole thing could have been avoided if I had only left when you asked me to the first time but I don’t buy it. If I had left when you first asked I wouldn’t have been able to make my point, would I?

I took your picture, Mr. Gordon, and it is not pretty. You made my young boy cry last year, just because I wouldn’t leave. I hope you learn to control your little outbursts and that we can avoid a similar situation when my family comes to visit this summer, but we are thinking about selling our house because of the way we have been treated up there. We have gone so far as to buy cars that we keep up there, with Vermont plates so we blend in, but it has gotten so bad my father in-law can’t even go to the grocery store without half a dozen people telling him to get off the phone while he’s driving!”

Yeah, it would be something like that.

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Categories: Humor | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “First of All, I Wasn’t Really Bragging

  1. That’s good. But I have a drawn out question.

    I once was a member of a rod and gun club in Virginia, private ponds, 3 of them. Same thing with shagging off anglers. BUT, once someone asked politely, before starting to fish, if they could fish for an hour so their young kid could catch a fish. No one had ever asked before. I don’t know if it was against club policy or not, but I said sure. I even showed them the best shore spot to increase their odds of catching something.

    If they had asked first, would you have given them an hour?

    I had a couple of outspoken members give me a hard time about what I had done, but a number of the other 32 members involved said they would have done the same thing as me.

  2. I have a drawn out answer!

    I suppose the distinguishing factor here is that I am not a member of the Neverwas Nonesuch Angling Society. I am their employee and only have the authority to say “no”. I will say it quite politely if someone asks nicely but I can not grant access to the property by strangers. A good part of that is liability, I’m sure, but it is the wish of the membership. Also, it is just easier for me to say “no” to everyone, no exceptions.

    The members can invite anyone they would like to fish, and some do.

    People stop by the road to admire the view all the time and some even get out to walk around a bit or sit on one of our benches. I keep an eye on them and I won’t begrudge them some quiet time and eye candy, but I have a pretty strict “no poking around” policy because you just never know what can happen. We have a gate house on our dam, which I keep locked and people walk past it all the time. One of the quickest ways to get booted off this property is to let me see you try a door you have no business opening. Leave it alone and you’re probably fine, as long as you don’t make yourself too much at home. I could do quite a few posts about confronting people for being where they shouldn’t.

    So now I suppose you want to know if I would have let them fish, if it were up to me and if the guy hadn’t been such a pain, right? Let me chew on that a while. Might be fodder for another post.

  3. Being an employee definitely changes the dynamics. I assumed otherwise.

    Since I was a member, and I stuck around to make sure nothing went wrong for the same liability issues you mention, it wasn’t an issue. As an employee, it would have been different.

    Around here I generally ask permission to fish certain remote areas of creeks. I believe it’s more of a courtesy than a law, but it’s very rare that anyone says no. I think it helps to have more white hair than black and look totally harmless.

  4. “…with Vermont plates so we blend in…” Yep, and that was the extent of their attempt to blend in.

    Having seen it so often, I shouldn’t be (but always am) amazed by the inflated entitlement and assumption some people have. Private property is not a city park!

    It doesn’t stop there either: in National and State Parks I’ve seen people like these chopping down trees, approach bears, elk and bison, fishing and camping illegally, littering, etc etc etc. Reading the police reports from Yellowstone makes one aware of incredible levels of staggering idiocy.

    One would think that people so deeply out of their element would realize it, and step lightly.

  5. The lack of respect for private property rights among everyone( not just anglers) astounds me. These days, alot of people think that if someone else has it – they’re entitled to it. I blame their parents and our increasingly entitlement-prone government for that attitude. But no matter who or what we blame for the selfish concept of “you owe me” it’s clear we’ve got a long way to go to fix it. My own very personal opinion is that you can blame this mentality on a socialism-heavy society that believes the words ” I deserve” are equal to “I have.” You showed much more patience than I ever could have. If the owners allowed me to, I’d have shown them the business end of alot more than my voice by about request #3.

    What that guy deserves is a good old fashioned %#@-whuppin if you ask me.

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