*The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Many summers ago I was in my home office catching up on some paperwork. It was a slow day at the Kitty Hawk Watersports location, and I had a good manager watching over things. Surely, there would be nothing to worry about.
The Phone Call
A friend of mine calls me at my house and says, “Yeah, you need to get Kim (his girlfriend’s daughter) off the jet ski patrol boat.” I’m confused. How does he know Kim is on patrol and why is he telling me to get her off? He briefly explains that she’s scared and needs to get back to shore as soon as possible. I’m still trying to digest what’s happening, but he’s someone I trust, so I oblige. I immediately called the shop to tell the manager to get Kim off the patrol boat. The manager was a little confused too, but he took care of it.
Later, we put the pieces together and found out what happened.
Kim’s First Day on the Job
I had just hired Kim because my friend dated her mom and recommended her. She was an attractive high schooler and all the male workers at the business were happy with my decision. When she came in that first morning, I introduced her to the important people who would get her oriented and then went home to do some work.
Patrolling the jet ski area is a very typical job responsibility in our watersports business. At the time, we had a nice little 15-foot inflatable with a 60 HP motor, and it made a great patrol boat.
When we bring on a new employee, the usual routine is to train them on how we rent out jet skis and show them how to patrol the riding area. Some people are intimidated by being on patrol for the first time, so we often have a fellow employee go out with them to show them the ropes.
What About Bob?
On this particular day, Bob was the lucky college student assigned to help the new, attractive female get up to speed on operating the patrol boat. For some reason, young men are prone to perform stupid acts to impress a young lady. This, it turns out, was just such an occasion.
Bob takes Kim out on a little cruise around the jet ski area and gradually gets the boat up to full speed. Bob assumes an athletic stance behind the helm, clutching the steering wheel. With his chin up and his chest puffed out, he assumed a commanding look. As they skip across the water, Bob yells, “CAN YOU FEEL THE POWER?” Kim responds with, “Huh?” Bob repeats louder, “CAN YOU FEEL THE POWER?!” Kim, feeling a little uneasy, says, “I guess so.” Bob comes back with, “TAKE THE WHEEL!” Confused, Kim says, “Huh?” Again, Bob orders, “TAKE THE WHEEL!!” Kim dutifully takes the wheel, at which point Bob jumps overboard leaving Kim alone in the boat at full throttle.
The Nickname Is Born
Fortunately, Kim had a cell phone with her on the boat (this was not common 20 years ago), and called her mom to tell her she was scared. Mom told her boyfriend, and the boyfriend called me.
Bob was fine and somehow got back to shore.
After one full day, Kim retired from watersports. All the guys were mad at Bob.
Soon after the details of this story were revealed, the moniker “Screw-Loose Bob” was born. And he never trained an employee again.
Jet Ski Rentals
John Van Lunen, Owner
Kitty Hawk Watersports