Charlie loves his job as a sailing instructor in the BVI. But like many jobs there are downsides. One is that the pay is very average and Charlie relies heavily on good tips to make up the shortfall. In order to get a good tip Charlie has to be extremely patient, always vigilant, polite in the most adverse circumstances, happy in the nastiest weather and forever helpful and kind. He also has to be a good teacher and work to everyone’s level of competence to make sure they achieve their goals. Good tips don’t normally come with a FAIL on the test.
Charlie works for the most expensive sailing school in the islands and his students are normally well-heeled Americans and invariably Republicans. Charlie learned recently that a friendly happy hour conversation involving politics was not the best way to improve his bank balance.
There are few people who don’t think that America’s foreign policy has been disastrous during the Bush administration, but staunch Republicans are loath to admit it. Charlie has the unfortunate trait of pushing his point until he gets approval. Cohen and Golda were sitting in the cockpit clutching their rum and cokes at the end of their first strenuous day of tacking and jibing when Charlie began, “An unnecessary war in Iraq that has killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. A war with no end in sight. A breeding ground for terrorists. A war seen by Islam as a holy war against Muslims that encourages suicide bombers. And now a war between Israel and Lebanon encouraged by the US…” There were blank stares around the cockpit, no-one was smiling.
“What exactly is a sheet bend?” asked Cohen, desperately trying to change the subject.
“Bush seems to think that if you hit someone on the nose they’ll get up and hand you a bunch of flowers. There’ll be terrorist repercussions for decades.” Cohen was becoming quite flushed and desperately fiddling with a small piece of line.
“Sailing classes start again tomorrow at 8 a.m.” said Charlie and then quickly showed the flustered student a sheet bend. After their second round of drinks Charlie told them he had the answer to the Middle East problem. “Send them a thousand cases of Scotch and all the whores in Vegas. Then they’ll start having fun and won’t even dream of committing suicide.” This time they all laughed, the ice was broken and the week turned out to be a success.
Charlie’s tip, though, wouldn’t even buy him lunch at the local greasy spoon…and he’s still trying to find out what an f—ing pinko is.