Let me drive the boat


The purpose of this story is to explain the concept of following your instincts, trusting your gut, or whatever you may call that feeling alerting you of any red flags. Unfortunately, in my case, and probably $10,000 later, I didn’t follow that feeling.

For some background, my paternal grandparents have been going to Lake George, New York for 40 years and have had a house there for over 30. They’re high school sweethearts who come from Italian backgrounds. My grandma, Aurelia (Aury), is one of the best, toughest women I know. My grandpa, Paul, is equally as tough and caring as Aury and the best storyteller. They’ve shared many memories of their lives and treasured summers at the lake with me and my brother. Christofer, my younger brother by three years, is a soccer star and all-around smart kid. Unfortunately, he’s the worst backseat driver alive.

My parents say we’re lucky to have each other and reminisce of memories with their respective siblings. My dad, John, shares many traits with his parents and is sarcastic as ever. My mom, Andrea, though she’s not exactly the same as my dad, she’s caring and funny. I’m grateful we have such a strong bond, but in the moments that split us up, I thought it was all my fault.

August 2017, the exact date I don’t remember, started out a very good day. All six of us were staying at the lake house for a week and decided to take the boat out for the day. Our house is at the top of the hill of our association, but we don’t mind as we trek our coolers and towels down the slope to see the gorgeous, sparkling water. The lake is as clear and flat as could be– a perfect boat day– or so we thought. Our boat is in the third slip of the far dock. She’s nearly 20 years old, a black and white Four Winns my grandparents named, “RTyme.Com”. Typical. We all hop aboard and my grandpa takes us over to “Sandy Bay” for some sun and sandwiches. We enjoy our day and decide to keep moving, after a few hours, to an area up north called “the narrows.”

As we near halfway, I hesitantly ask to drive, Chris groaning in response.

“Sure, sweetheart, why not? You’re a good driver,” My grandpa agrees while my grandma chimes in:

“Paul, I would much rather you drive. You know I feel more comfortable when you’re driving?”

“Grandma you don’t trust me!?” I laugh from the wheel, over the crackling speakers and wind, not turning around. 

We all joke together as I continue driving at ease. I’m familiar with the lake and the rules that follow. My grandpa and dad taught Chris and me everything we know, while being patient teachers. 

Later, my mom asks if we could head back, beginning to pack up, although it’s 30 minutes back. My dad agrees and points me to turn between two islands I’d never seen.

“Dad, are you sure I can turn here? Is this a no wake zone, I don’t see any buoys, grandpa, what do you think?” I continue going straight attempting to find another place to turn.

“John, you or your father should drive, Jenna doesn’t know where she’s going and I don’t think this is the place we normally turn.”

“Relax, Andrea, she’s fine. Jenna turn here,” my dad continues, standing with me and my grandpa.

“Grandpa?” I nearly whisper.

“I think you’re doing great, honey, turn left just a tad, you’re good to go,” he responds with ease. I wasn’t sure where to go, with my family arguing over which was the right way. My dad and my grandpa know the lake the best. As we near the islands, my dad puts a hand on my shoulder,

“Don’t listen to the idiots in the back, you know what you’re doing. Just let up a bit here and you should be good all the way through.” I pull back on the gas as I turn through. I sigh, relaxing my hands at the wheel, as yelling in the back stops. Everything was okay. All the sudden there’s a screeching noise and scratching feeling from the bottom of the boat. My fingers re-clench the wheel as my eyes widen. A thud in the back stops our yelling as my grandma screams:

“Paul I want you to drive right now!” My dad gives her a hand back up as I let my grandpa takeover and sit alone. I begin to shake and tears pool my eyes, as I try to hold them back.  

We make it home safe, as we dock my grandpa pulls me aside: “It was my fault this happened, Jenna, don’t worry we’ll take care of it.”

As it turns out, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. The owner of a marina alerted my grandpa that the water level was down quite a few inches that day. My grandparents decided to take us all out to an upscale restaurant for dinner to try to forget about the day. Although the day ended well, the point of this story wasn’t to come to a happy ending. What I learned from this experience is that no matter what people are telling you, to always follow your instincts. Only you can tell what is right for you, whether you feel like you’re going the wrong direction on a boat or you don’t think going out with your friends is a good idea, there’s only one way to feel comfortable. While this story ends happily, some may not. Follow your gut, understand what is right for you, make your own decisions. 


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