Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Next Generation of Canoelovers

My flight is in a few hours, but I can't sleep because a) I'm stoked to be going paddling and b) the place where a hornet stung me on my head itches like a sonofab-tch. Oh...didn't I mention that I was attacked by a hornet as I walked under its nest? Nailed me four times across the top of my head - bam bam bam bam. Just like that. Next day I walk by the nest again, being very careful to give it a wide berth...and a single hornet comes after me again.

Hornet bait. The knife did not deter them.

Maybe that particular hornet was in charge of bald guys. Maybe the target was just too good to pass up. Whatever it was, I'm still itching and it has not increased by love for vespids. That said, I do appreciate them eating biting flies and emerald tree borers. And tent caterpillars. Just leave my scalp alone, por favor.


The last day of our trip I wanted to take a morning paddle with Canoelover Jr. He is indeed a Canoelover, which is not really surprising since he has grown up in canoes. We ended up taking his canoe, a Nova Craft Prospector 15, which is an awesome little boat for exploring twisty and turny rivers. The story how Canoelover Jr. is a great one and bears retelling.

Disclaimer: 99.99% of our customers are golden. That leaves .01% who are not. This is a story about the .01%.

The canoe in question

Back Story: Customer special orders a red Prospector 15. Customer changes mind a week later and switches to burgundy. We forward order change to Nova Craft. Change gets lost in the shuffle, and red canoe is delivered, and honest mistake. Customer arrives to get red boat and goes ballistic. "I ordered burgundy, and I expect burgundy." There is drama, yelling, and tantrums. Customer is leaving on vacation the next day. We call Nova Craft, talk to Roch, their sales manager. Roch says give him the boat to use and we'll get a burgundy to you ASAP.

Fast forward a month. Burgundy canoe is delivered by Roch. Roch is at the store for the swap out. The red canoe is well-used, certainly, after a month, but Roch says nothing.

One more item of note: Roch Prevost is a great sales manager. He is French Canadian without the Quebecois attitude, laughs easily and has a mellow disposition that is unflappable. He is, in short, a great guy.

So here's the scene.

Customer: "Thanks for getting us the right boat, we really enjoyed our trip."

Roch: "I am so glad you had a good time, that's what it's all about, n'est pas?"

Customer: "That's right." [chuckles] "So, I was wondering...what are you going to do with the red canoe?"

[Wrong thing to say. Customer wants to buy the red canoe at a discount...and Roch's ears start to turn a little red.]

Customer: "So can we make a deal on the red one too? I mean, what else would you do with it?"

[Silence. Ears get redder. Then Roch smiles.]

Roch: "Hey Ian, come 'ere a minute..."

Ian [Canoelover Jr., age 11]: "Hi Roch."

Roch: "So Ian, I tink maybe you like to 'ave this canoe, eh?"

[Customer looks stunned.]

Ian: "Really? Free?"

Roch: "Yes, Ian. This canoe is for you to learn to be a good paddler like your dad, okay?"

Ian: [runs over and hugs Roch] "Thank you, Roch!"

Roch: "You're welcome, my friend."

Another item of note: Ian and Roch have been friends since the first time Roch came to stay at our house. At that time he was not a sales manager, but worked in the factory and drove truck. Ian and Roch played chess while then-sales manager Bill and I discussed things.

Customer: "Wait a're going to give that kid that boat?"

Roch: [indignantly] "Why, maybe you tink I give it to you?"

So that was that. Customer went away, learned a lesson about the importance of not trying to take advantage of a situation, and how to make a kid happy.

And happy he is. It is his boat, and when we use it for family trips, we ask his permission. Jim often borrows the boat for Brule River trips, and he always calls and asks Ian, not me, if he can take the red Prospector up north. Ian, being who he is, always says yes. He is a generous soul, probably because of the example of people like Roch who get it.

Respectfully submitted,



Rosie said...

I love this story. Judging from my tiny number of interactions with him, Roch is definitely top-notch.

P.S. "Quebecois attitude" ???? never heard of it. ;)

Boy Crazy said...

This. Is an awesome story. Love it, Darren. And I think I love this Roch guy. :)

Anonymous said...

That's an awesome story. Those guys at Nova Craft are awesome. They make cool boats too. Thanks for all your help in ordering mine.

Darren said...

Upate: Ian took the boat on his honeymoon, a dozen years later.