Handling Life’s Embarrassments

Larry Price
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Wednesday - September 27, 2006
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When you do the news every day as I do, you have a tendency to feel sorry for people who do things that get them into trouble, or make it appear they have made a bad decision somewhere along the line.

A while back the city laid an above-ground sewer line on Kalanianaole Highway as a form of temporary relief for an overburdened sewer system. From the moment they started installing the sewer line on the tiny medial strip between fast-moving traffic, I thought it was almost guaranteed to be hit by an inattentive motorist. When it finally happened, I didn’t know whether to laugh or feel sorry for the motorist.

What makes it sad is no one is prepared for embarrassing moments of that magnitude. A lot of people do strange things when they get in situations like that. Some laugh, others cry; evidently some people even make up strange stories.

Just last week a beautiful 41-foot sailboat had to be removed from a reef off Ala Moana Beach Park. The vessel ran aground early Saturday morning with three people aboard. All three had to be airlifted safely to shore. A heavy-duty tow truck was brought in to aid in the sailboat’s removal. How embarrassing is that? To make matters worse, the salvage crews first floated the boat then the tow truck used massive cables to pull it to shore. The sailboat rested on the beach and had to be lifted onto a truck by a huge crane. The only people showing any sympathy for the sailboat were several insurers shaking their heads trying to figure out if it could be saved or would it be scrapped.

I don’t know anything about sailing; however, I could show more empathy and refer to the boat by its proper name. The Kora II is a 41-foot fiberglass ketch. If the Kora II is salvaged or scrapped, it is a sad ending to a beautiful (not sure here if it’s a boat or a ship) toy. I’m equally sure the owners of the sailboat will have a wake at the yacht club in the Kora’s memory. Kind of makes me wonder what happened to Kora I and if there will be a Kora III.

A recent example of trying to cover your tracks in embarrassing situations is a California woman who was ordered to pay more than $20,000 after she pleaded no contest to filing a bogus distress call that led to a Coast Guard search three years ago. She was picked up from waters off Maui by the sailing vessel Kiele V. She told the boat’s master that she was one of seven people adrift from a capsized canoe off the coast of Molokai. The skipper of the boat relayed the information to the Coast Guard, which began a rescue mission.

When all was said and done it was learned that calling for help can be expensive. As it turns out a Coast Guard aircraft can cost $4,000 an hour to operate, and a boat another $1,500 an hour. Even at those rates, pleading no contest avoided a possible sentence of six years in prison.

The moral of this effort: If you do something really embarrassing, don’t try to cover it up with a falsehood or fabrication of the truth. Just admit it was just a dumb moment in your life. Everyone will relate to your embarrassment and feel your pain. If in doubt, plead no contest.

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