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    Alligator

    Follow the rules, especially with safety.

    Dec. 9, 2019
    Safety procedures related to your trade must be learned and followed.

    Pricing enthusiast Rodney Koop is the founder and CEO of
    The New Flat Rate, a home service menu-selling system designed to put profit directly into the hands of plumbing, electrical, and HVAC contractors.

    It was the fourth of June, and I wasn’t wearing much.  I was standing on the grassy bank of a marshy river waiting for my turn to water ski when I saw something move.  What I mean is that I saw tall grass moving about 30 feet from me, and as far as I knew, nothing good could be or should be hiding in that tall grass.  I hoped it was a dog or a rabbit or maybe a raccoon, but then again, those animals didn’t make 8 feet of grass move at the same time.

    About that time, my daughter hollered from the boat that was idling towards me.  It was my turn to ski, and she was rotating the MasterCraft ski boat around so the rope captain (one of my 9 kids), could throw me the rope.  

    About the time the rope landed at my feet, the grass moved again, and my attention was sharply tuned in. This was Florida by the way—South Florida.  The river was a mixture of saltwater and fresh water—brackish, the locals called it.  I knew there were manatees in the some of the inlets and bays, but we were careful not to water ski near where they hung out.  Other water creatures were not so concerned about where they hung out.  Particularly anacondas, boa constrictors, and alligators.  The first two didn’t worry me much because I had never seen a big snake in a big river like this, but there could always be a first time.  

    As I mentioned, I wasn’t wearing much…just a pretty hot pair of swim trunks and a dark blue, four-buckle life jacket.  About the time I was thinking about my life vest, I saw a long green snout poke out of the tall grass and a pair of big ugly eyes staring at me from behind the snout. My first thought was that an alligator would probably not like trying to chew through my 4-buckle life vest, but then again, I didn’t want to hang around and find out.  

    About that time, my daughter was idling away from shore tightening up the 75-foot ski rope, and I was quickly putting my feet into a red Hyperlite wakeboard.  I sat down in the grass with my board in the water, and as the rope tightened, I hollered, “Hit it!” And it was probably in a pretty squeaky voice because about that time, the gator decided to check me out closer and took a couple of steps my way.  

    Believe me, if I hadn’t stood up on that wakeboard, I would have drug behind that boat at a very high speed, but one thing was for sure; I wasn’t going to let go of that rope handle no matter what.  

    We had been warned that there were alligators along the river, but that was just a warning.  Like when the town cop pulls you over and gives you a warning.  No big deal, right?  

    People say you need to be kind and righteous to go to heaven; well, I have known some people who went there because they were stupid.  And I was thinking that it might just be stupid to keep skiing off that grassy bank.  At least until the winter when it would be somewhat cooler. 

    Well, with every close call, rules have to be made, and processes have to be followed.  So right then and there, I got my kids together and made two rules.   

    Rule #1.  From now on, we start in the deep water; no more starting from the grassy bank. 

    Rule #2.  If someone is skiing or wake boarding behind the boat and something, anything, is seen slithering through the water, do not jerk the rope out of their hands. 

    We made it back to the camper that night with all of our fingers, toes, arms, and legs intact, but for some reason, the next morning, there was no hurry among any of my kids to go out skiing.  

    After a late breakfast, I gave them a pep talk about how effective our two new rules would be, and out we went to test them. 

    A friend of mine works for a large pest control company.  They have a rule—not about alligators, but because they understand that danger lurks close by, they have a rule.  The rule is that when you work in an elevated position, you follow the personal protection policies.  That means you tie off when and where you are supposed to, and you wear approved fall protection.  A few weeks ago, he fell off the top of a 60-foot silo.  A 60-foot fall will kill just about every time.  In his case, he stopped 50 feet above the ground.  If wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t without some pain, because as the protective devices slow and stop your fall, you can still get tossed around a little.  It was quite a job for his coworkers to pull him back to safety and help him down off that tower.  I’m also sure his legs were very shaky.  I can’t really imagine the fear while going over the side.  But we are all so thankful that he followed the rules. 

    What about you? Do you follow the rules? My wife says I don’t always think rules apply to me.  I guess it’s time to change, that isn’t it?

    I’ll bet almost everyone reading this has some kind of rules for safety training and safe practices.  When was the last time you had a real safety meeting with your team?  When was the last time you inspected every piece of safety gear?

    Let’s be safe and follow the rules so we can all get home on time.