Beware the Bozo Contagion: An example of when to apply the Most Useful Philosophy.

This boat ramp is occupied.

This boat ramp is occupied.

It was an awesome summer Sunday and we were not the only ones that thought it would be a good idea to go to the lake. There was a line of vehicles pulling trailers with their boats.

There are four ramps at the place we go to launch the boat. The process is simple. You pull your vehicle up on the right side of the launch area and check the ramps. If the ramps are occupied, you wait.

“Occupied” means there is a vehicle with a boat on a trailer backing down the ramp to launch. Or there is a boat that is in the water tied to the dock. If the boat is tied to the dock it means one of two things: 1) the owner of the boat just launched the boat and is parking their vehicle, or 2) the boat owner just pulled up to the dock and tied off their boat.

If the ramp is occupied you wait. Like a public restroom, if it is in use, you wait.

Dad was in the “on-deck” slot. My yellow Labrador Carson and I were standing at the top of the boat ramps a few yards away. I would motion to Dad when a ramp became available, and point to which ramp.

I do this because the boat ramps go down at a steep angle from the “on-deck” area. The driver can’t view the bottom and see which ramp opens up.

It’s not a complicated process.

The problem with boating is that most people don’t know how to do it properly and safely. At least 9 out of 10 people with a boat don’t know how to use it.  And most people can’t control their emotions.

If you take a beautiful summer Sunday, lots of people wanting to go to the lake with their boats, and lots of people who can’t control their emotions, you have the perfect recipe for… Bozos.

As I was watching the ramps for the first availability, several trucks with boat trailers pulled up behind my Dad.

They started honking their car horns at my Dad telling him to GO! They were yelling from their cars. Dad was getting frustrated.

These people were Bozos.

He looked at me and yelled, “What’s going on? Can I go??”

“No”, I replied.

All the ramps were occupied. I would have told my Dad if one was open. It’s not a complicated process.

The guy who was two positions behind my Dad in line, we’ll call him Bozo #3, decided that he couldn’t wait any longer. He had not been in line 5 minutes. He pulled out of the line, pulled in front of my Dad and started to line up his truck and trailer to back down one of the occupied ramps.

I could see Dad getting angry.

The guy waiting behind Dad got out of his car, walked up to the offending line skipper and said, “Hey! There’s a line here.”

Bozo #3 started mumbling something. He was embarrassed that he got called out. He pulled his vehicle back in line.

Then a truck pulls out of one of the middle ramps with its trailer empty. The boat was in the water tied off to the dock.

I told you most people who go boating don’t know what they’re doing, right?

Well they don’t become Bozos magically when they are in the water on a boat. They are that way in all interactions with a boat. They don’t know how to launch a boat, drive a boat, and they don’t know how to put a boat on a trailer and pull it out of the water properly and safely.

The guy who just got out and scolded Bozo #3 for skipping the line, who was waiting behind Dad, pulled out in front of Dad. This Bozo, we’ll call him Bozo #2, started backing down the middle ramp that the truck with the empty trailer had just come from.

Dad got angry and started yelling at the guy. “Hey! I’m waiting in line here buddy!!”

Bozo #2 did not care and started backing down the ramp anyway.

There are several reasons you don’t back down a ramp with the boat in the water tied to the dock. First, it’s a dick move. You’re crowding the other person. You could potentially hit the boat tied to the dock if you back down too far.

Second, it could take the person a long time to get back from their car and by that time another ramp will have opened up. If you’re a Bozo and started backing down an occupied slot, then you will miss the chance to get the open ramp to the next person in the “on-deck” slot.

And you will look like a Bozo.

Lastly, boats break down all the time. That’s the nature of having a boat.

People will launch their boat, tie it to the dock, park the car, come back and try to start the boat. The boat will be a boat and something will have broken or whatever, the boat won’t start. This is not unusual. Then the boat has to be pulled out of the water.

If a Bozo has backed down an occupied ramp, they have to pull their rig back out if the boat their encroaching on won’t start.

Dad was amazed at the foolishness of the scene. He started looking at me as if I could explain the Bozo #2’s actions.

Bozo #3 saw the bold move of Bozo #2 and couldn’t control himself. He pulled in front of my Dad a second time and immediately started backing down a ramp with a boat tied to the dock.

I’m guessing that Bozo #2 and Bozo #3 thought my Dad and I were Bozo’s because we were just sitting there waiting for a ramp to get open instead of charging down the first ramp we could see.

A Bozo never knows he’s a Bozo.

Dad lost it. He yelled at me in desperation “Can I GO?!?”

It was easy to see what was happening. Dad lost his self-control. He let other people’s actions dictate his. He was getting angry because everyone at the boat ramp was acting like Bozo’s.

I see this happen to people of all walks of life. This used to happen to me all the time. Then I got crushed and put in the hospital and cried a lot. Then I learned and got better. But I still fall in this trap occasionally.

When you find yourself in a situation where other people’s bad behavior makes you angry, remember the words of Marcus Aurelius:

“So other people hurt me? That’s their problem. Their character and actions are not mine.”

This is the most useful, practical application of philosophy you will find.

If the people around you are Bozo’s and acting shitty, so what? If someone cuts you off on your commute to work, so what? If you have co-workers that make your life miserable, stop and think.

You don’t have to act like them.

You have a choice. You are the one in control of how you think, feel, and act. Don’t give that control away so easily.

Get away from them, or ignore them. Do not let other people’s bad behavior influence yours.

Breathe. Then take another deep Breath. The world is full of Bozos and uncomfortable situations. It’s ok. Don’t let it get to you.

One of the boat ramps finally opened up and I directed my father to it.

We got our boat in the water before Bozo #3. He was still waiting on the ramp for the boat that was tied to the dock to pull away so he could put his boat in.

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