Due to a terrible mix-up at Powerball Headquarters, all but one of my little numbered Ping-Pong balls remained in the hopper for Saturday's drawing. This is a disturbing turn of events and will, no doubt, have a detrimental effect on the Consumer Spending Index. Ripples will be felt in the area of charitable giving as well because I had planned to only piss away half of the money on myself. The rest of my windfall was to be dedicated to a philanthropic entity, operated from the deck of my yacht, that would provide cell phones and Sport Utility Vehicles to the less fortunate.

We mustn't dwell on the vicissitudes of fate that have brought us to this sad Monday morning, nor should we point an angry finger at the undeserving slugs who won. These so-called "winners" will undoubtedly fall into the abyss of self-loathing that must accompany their affront to fair play.

Such a blow would have devastated a lesser man but I was able to summon the inner strength to go on, to fight the good fight. I arrived early enough this morning to snatch the vitriolic letter of resignation from my boss' inter-office mail box and have resumed my humble role with the unwashed masses.

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It's been said that a boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by wood, into which one pours money. Any boater could tell you that this is a laughable understatement and inaccurate to the extent that the hole is usually surrounded by fiberglass.

If you want peace and quiet, visit any marina on a weekday. The poor shmuck who owns that gorgeous boat won't turn up until about noon on Saturday because he’s working overtime to impress you. It might surprise you to learn that working stiffs, not unlike yourself, own some of the biggest and showiest vessels in the harbor. Weekend warriors.

I pretty much had the marina to myself Monday through Friday. There was the English professor down the dock but he kept to himself for the most part. You'd hear the rat-a-tat-tat of his Underwood as he hammered out his novel, punctuated by the occasional splash, as he'd cannonball into the river to refresh. The semantics professor was only half-kidding when he threatened to take a place in the city on the weekends for some peace and quiet.

There was only one other boater on the dock who hung around with us during the week and that dude had it snapped. Sammy had more money than God and he wasn't shy about showing it off. His boat would have inspired envy in even the most ascetic soul. "The Lucky Ducky" was a seventy-two foot Hatteras that he "stole from a dizzy widow" for $750,000. Sammy made sure that everyone in the marina knew that the yacht was worth three times what he'd paid for her and that he owned her outright. His cancelled personal check for the full amount was framed and hanging in the wheelhouse.

Sammy had the biggest, baddest bobber in the whole damned marina and you could detect it in his walk.

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I did odd jobs around the marina, as a kid and I couldn't wait to get on board that beautiful Hatteras. She had teak trim and decking, a high maintenance material that requires frequent applications of oil and sealer to protect it from the elements. I made the mistake of telling the fat cat owner that I was so eager to get my hands on his boat that I'd have done the teak gratis. He took this as my initial negotiating position and wound up paying me something like two dollars an hour; for nearly a hundred hours of grueling labor.

Nobody in the marina really knew what Sammy did for a living beyond the vague speculation that he was involved in some manner of fund raising. "Hey, aren't we all? Old Sammy's just better at it." The nice people on D dock didn't hate him for his good fortune but they were happy for him in the same manner that the fourth runner up is happy for Miss America. The summer I toiled for slave wages on the decks of "The Lucky Ducky," I was given a first hand glimpse into the mechanics of his wealth.

Sammy wasn't just your ordinary run of the mill fundraiser, he was the fundraiser for a high profile malady. He told me that he generally made four phone calls per day, just after lunch time, to corporate CEO's and wealthy individuals. He only dealt with transactions in the six or seven digit range and his commission was five percent of the gross. On a typical donation of five million dollars, Sammy would bag $250,000 for his efforts. Good gig if you can get it.

I noticed him doing the happy dance one day on the poop deck of "The Lucky Ducky," as I oiled the teak railings of the flying bridge above. I called him "Captain Sam," as would any good sycophant and hollered down to the poop deck to find out what he was celebrating. "Hey, hey, Captain Sam, don't tell me you won the lottery again?" Sammy smiled hard and explained that he had just closed the books on a five-year commitment from a major industrial firm for four million dollars per year.

I did the ciphering in my head and hollered back, "Woo Hoo! That's a cool million for the boat fund, Captain, not a bad day's work!"

His demeanor darkened in an instant and he scowled at me from the poop deck like Captain Bligh, "It's not about my commission, young man. I'm in the business of curing disease and saving lives, nothing more. I'd do it for free."

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We should all be thankful, I suppose, for Sammy's efforts on behalf of crippled children. Technically speaking, his fund raising prowess is focused on finding a cure for the disease so he isn’t really acting on behalf of the currently afflicted. We have to hope that quality of life issues, like wheelchairs and leg braces, are being attended to from someone else's yacht.

The five million or so that he subtracts annually from the cause is merely fair compensation for his good works. Sammy doesn't see himself as a fat cat with a bitchin' boat, he is Mother Theresa with a cell phone.

If you are engaged in fund raising yourself, you might want to take Sammy's name out of your Rolodex.

He gave at the office.


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