Seeking Professional Help:
The River Guide

Rudy entered the Cross-Eyed Saloon and approached the man hunched over a map spread out on the bar. “Say friend,” he asked, “Did the prospectors hire you to move some supplies up the river to their camp?” “Yes they did,” the stranger replied, “I’m Carl, do you want to study our route before we go?” “Naw, they’re down river from here about 20 miles,” said Rudy, “It shouldn’t be too hard to find them and the sooner we leave, the sooner we get paid.” Carl made a few more marks on the map and sealed it in a plastic pouch.

Rudy led the way to the dock where there were two canoes piled high with freight. He untied the lines to the nearest one, jumped in and paddled off. Carl spent a few minutes securing the load in his canoe. He put on his gloves and life jacket, surveyed the sky and pushed off. It didn’t take long to catch up to Rudy who was zigzagging from bank to bank. “Hey Rudy, would you like a few tips?” yelled Carl. “Naw, I’ll get the hang of it, you go on ahead,” Rudy shouted back.

Carl steered his canoe into the middle of the river where the current was strong and steady. He pulled out his map and looked for the first set of rapids circled in red. About an hour later he came upon an island with rapids to the left and a clear channel on the right. He knew Rudy would have trouble there and decided to land on the island and wait for him.

By now Rudy was pretty frustrated. After he’d bottomed out a few times water began seeping into the canoe and soaked his runners. He’d scraped his forehead on a sweeper hanging over the river near the shore and a few packages had fallen into the water. As he approached the island he decided to let the current choose which way to go around it. His hands were blistered and he was simply too tired to fight. By the time he noticed Carl waving it was too late to change course. The canoe sped up and rocks jutted out of the water ahead of him.

Carl arrived on the scene a few minutes later. Boxes were strewn along both sides of the channel. Though Rudy had made a valiant effort, he was now dragging his near empty canoe onto the island. After ensuring Rudy was uninjured, Carl gathered up the remaining supplies and placed them in the canoe. He knew it was better to keep busy than to talk.

After awhile he sat down. “You know Rudy, if we travelled together I bet we could make it to the camp without any trouble. It wouldn’t be as lonely either.” Rudy frowned but said nothing. His pride was bruised more than anything. After awhile he spoke softly. “Wow, this is sure a lot harder than I thought. Once the canoe gets going, it’s not easy to change direction, especially if you are in the current.

“Yeah,” said Carl, “I learned that lesson the hard way a long time ago. That’s why I studied the map and always wear a life jacket. Come on, your canoe isn’t that badly damaged. Why don’t we load it up and go when you’ve dried off?”

With Carl’s help, Rudy learned to read a map, paddle properly and take advantage of the current. He listened for rapids and looked for sweepers. The rest of their trip went smoothly and a new friendship was formed.

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