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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Kirschaum

She had our attention, and what came next shocked us all

Yes, this actually happened.

I got free tickets for a Key West sunset cruise.

So, when a friend visited, I said, "Look! Free tickets! Let's do it!"

About two hours before sunset, we hopped on our bikes and headed for a schooner docked in Key West's historic harbor. It's where old photos show Hemingway posing with his catch. Now it's where tourists take boat rides, and rich people park their yachts.

We arrived early, boarded via a narrow gangplank, and people-watched as others, mostly tourists on vacation, arrived.

This sailboat was 100 feet long - a guess. Suffice it to say it felt like something you'd see in a movie about rich white people discussing where they "summer."

That's when we saw them.

A skinny guy - mid-50s at least - from somewhere in Europe who appeared to be living out a death metal fantasy. He was wearing black jeans and a black t-shirt with a huge cross pattée on the front despite the 90-degree heat. Walking next to him was his "date." At least 30 years his junior, she was wearing what a high school teacher once called a "jet skirt." She was also wearing stripper shoes and picking her way down the pier next to her jackboot and jeans-wearing death metal daddy. Their fashion choices didn't scream boat trip with Skip and Muffy. None of us were in sailing garb - whatever that is - but if there was a prize for not being dressed for a sunset cruise, they won it by a mile. The last time I saw this couple, they stood in the boat's popular middle area chatting with other tourists. She was perched on those heels sipping a Bud Lite, and looking like a boat ride was not what she had in mind, but she rolled with it. Bada bing bada bang, next thing you know, we're sailing out to sea to drink and watch a tropical sunset with strangers we'll never see again. About 20 minutes into this boat ride shindig, I headed to the back in search of more beer, and that's when I noticed the middle of the boat had cleared out. This was the prime hanging area, and it was empty. What?

A few people nearby cast knowing glances at one another, so you knew something had happened.

That's when I saw the previously high-heeled woman behind the giant wheel of this schooner. She was dressed in sweats now. Her skirt and high heels were gone, and she looked out of place yet oddly more comfortable.

Turns out, we hadn't gotten very far into the boat trip when she hurled all over the middle of the boat. Someone on the crew took her down below, cleaned her up, gave her sweats, and let her steer the boat—well done, crew! Having felt like spewing on most family boat trips as a kid, I could relate. We expected a standard-issue sunset cruise with tourists and free booze. And the unexpected happened. It almost always does.

The most valuable commodity?

Attention. If you want anyone's attention, tell a story. They'll be entranced if it's a good one, even if they've heard it before. The best profiles, cover letters, blog posts, and e-mails tell a story. Even a short one will do. Even an old one that's been told many times will do. It doesn't have to be yours. Want to stand out? Try it. I'm telling stories this weekend, and so are a few others. And it's free. I wrote about it here. Notice it starts with a story.

Like our sunset cruise, it's free.

PS - Register here.


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