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Magothy River


It shouldn’t be too difficult to be a nice person.

But apparently some people just haven’t received the proper instruction. So in the off chance that the young man in this story should somehow get wind of this post, perhaps he will have a different approach in the future.

The story begins on a sunny, unseasonably warm Sunday the 28th of February 2016. My good friend Little Dog and I took advantage of this blessing from Mother Nature to go fishing for Pickerel (a member of the Pike family of fish) on the Magothy River in Severna Park, Maryland.

I spent much of my childhood walking the shorelines of this river crabbing and rowing my john boat all over the river fishing. If you spend enough time on boats you will have all kinds of unexpected experiences, some of which will require you to have the assistance of others. It is an understanding among people who live on the water that you may be called upon to help someone out from time to time. There was many a time in my youth when a boat capsized or an engine broke down or a sail tore or a sudden storm arose. All these situations led to a stranger gladly lending a hand.

Anyway, now to my tale. Little Dog and I had been fishing most of the day, when in the afternoon we found ourselves in a shallow cove in the upper Magothy River not far from Magothy Bridge (the picture is on the river this same day but not the location in this story). It was a bit windy so we had to constantly be aware of the speed of our drift as we could be blown into a dock or into the shallows and get stuck. In this particular cove there were two homes set back off the water, each with a dock. As we were fishing and drifting close to one of the docks, Little Dog took a bad step as he was casting from the deck of the boat, tripped and went head first into the frigid waters of the Magothy. Fortunately he did not hit his head on the boat, and was okay, so he swam around to the back of the boat where the swimming ladder sits, and I helped him drag his freezing soaked self into the boat.

After he was on board and attempting to get warm, he realized that he had dropped his new fishing rod into the river. Since we had drifted next to the dock and we knew the rod was somewhere in the water below us (but not visible because the water only had a few feet of clarity), we threw a boat line around a pylon of the dock to keep us still while we figured out how to retrieve the lost fishing rod. There was a grappling hook with a long rope in the boat so we set about throwing it out and retrieving it over and over in hopes of hooking the line or the rod so we could pull it in.

It’s important to note that this is in February. There is no boat being moored at the dock. There are no chairs or water toys on the dock. There is no crab traps or equipment on the dock. There is absolutely nothing on the dock. After a few minutes a pleasant enough young woman walks down from the house and asks us if we know that it is not legal to be tying up to a private dock. We explain to her what we are doing and that we will be on our way as soon as possible. My friend is visibly wet. She never asks if everything is okay. She simply looks at us suspiciously and walks back up the hill and proceeds to watch us for several minutes and then she disappears. A few minutes later, a man (maybe in his mid to late 30s) walks down. Right before he gets to us, Little Dog had found the fishing rod, and now we are cleaning up the mess we made in the boat from dragging up mud, leaves, and what seemed like miles of fishing line, so we can get back on the water and go home because by now Little Dog is pretty cold in his soaking wet blue jeans and his water filled boots.

The man walks to the end of the dock and the first thing he does is take a picture of the serial numbers on the boat as he says, “you know its illegal to tie up to a private dock.” He doesn’t say the thing that any decent person would say, and I mean the absolute obvious thing, and that is “do you guys need any help?” or “is everything okay?”

It would not take an IQ greater than 4 to figure out that we would not want to be tied up to a dock in February in a tiny cove. My friend has a nice fishing boat, and while we were dressed to fish, we certainly didn’t look like homeless vagrants (after all what homeless vagrant has a fishing boat?), and we definitely couldn’t have been trying to steal anything unless we had the special skills required to take someone’s pier!

What could this man have been thinking? What could his view of life be? The only thing there was to say, if you are at all a human being who cares about the plight of other human beings is something along the lines of “what’s the trouble and how can I help?”

I was flabbergasted that someone could be this callous and have such little regard or kindness towards others. So I can only assume that somewhere along the way, he was never give the proper instructions. So this is for him. Kindness and caring are good things. The more you exhibit these in your life, the better your life will likely be. The more these will be showered back on you.

If you happen to live on the Magothy River, or know someone who does, please share this post. Who knows, maybe by virtue of the six degrees of separation this will end up on his radar and you will have done him a favor. It would have been easy enough for me to have found his address and name and mentioned that here, but I’m not interested in embarrassing him, just maybe giving him the opportunity to show kindness to the next boater who somehow ends up at his dock in need of a helping hand.


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