The Watering Hole Blog

The SUP Scam

man on paddleboard

The SUP Scam – Gullible or Trusting?

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas on Pixabay

“To assume the best about another is the trait that has created modern society. Those occasions when our trusting nature gets violated are tragic. But the alternative – to abandon trust as a defense against predation and deception – is worse.”

Malcolm Gladwell

Just in case you’re not up on your personal watercraft terminology 😊 “SUP” stands for “Stand-Up Paddleboard.”

Personally, I don’t particularly enjoy using the darn things…but I did have a rather interesting encounter with a paddleboarder recently.

Here’s what happened:

My friend’s daughter, Ella (15), and I were kayaking in Brentwood Bay. We’d parked our kayaks at our favourite beach (at Tod Inlet) and had gone for a swim. We were just getting back into our kayaks when a good-looking guy (late-thirties) came up to us. He had a little dog with him.

“Excuse me,” he says. “Can I ask you guys a favour?”

“Sure!” I chirp, all friendly. Ella gives him the stink eye, not so friendly.

He then proceeds to give us a rather long and convoluted story about how he was out with his buddies the night before and needs to get back to his boat – but his paddleboard is on his boat and normally he would swim out and get out it himself…but since we were heading out on our kayaks anyway, would we mind paddling over to his boat, pull the paddleboard off the back and tow it back to shore…so then he can paddle back to his boat?

“Sure!” I say, always the helpful one. Ella doesn’t say anything.

So I push her kayak out into the water. Then I get into my kayak and the guy pushes me out into the water, then sits on the beach with his dog, waiting for us to return with his paddleboard.

But…as I’m paddling over to Ella, I pass another guy who is perched on his paddleboard (that is half in the water and half on the beach). As I paddle on by, he asks me (quietly) a rather good question: “Is that his boat?”

I stopped paddling and look at the guy. “What?”

He smiles. “I said…is that his boat?”

“Of course, it’s his boat!” I say, rather indignant. “Why would he be asking us to get his paddleboard from the boat, if it’s not his boat?”

The guy looks at me, still smiling.

“Ohhhh…” I say, not so indignant, finally putting two and two together. “That might not be his boat. That might be someone else’s boat…and he is getting us to steal their paddleboard.”

The guy shrugs. “Well, I don’t know for sure,” he says, “but those type of scams have been happening here, so I’m just saying it is a possibility.”

“Well NOW what I am supposed to do?” I ask him, a little miffed at the situation. “Do we just leave the poor guy waiting on the shore?”

He shrugs again. “That’s up to you.”

So then I paddle on over to where Ella is patiently waiting for me. I bring her up to speed on what the second guy said. Then I ask her what she thinks we should do.

Ella thinks a moment. “As I see it,” she says, “this is our dilemma: either we have a guilty conscious for not returning his paddleboard and leaving him waiting on shore…or we steal someone else’s paddleboard.”

This kid was born wise 😊 Put so succinctly, our choice was clear. We paddled out towards his boat, then just kept on paddling…hightailing it back to the paddleboard rental shop.

In hindsight, I do think we made the right decision.

But I wanted to blog about it because it concerns me that if the second guy hadn’t asked me, “Is that his boat?” it would not have occurred to me that we were likely being scammed.

In other words, where the heck was my intuitive spidey-sense?

I am a very trusting person by nature…and for the most part, I like being that way. Click To Tweet

But this little paddleboard incident was a good reminder to always be thinking critically. Just because we were out in nature on a beautiful day, and the guy was good-looking and nicely dressed AND had a cute little dog, that doesn’t mean I should let my guard down.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

What would you have done? Would you have been suspicious or trusting? Have you ever been scammed?

Maryanne Pope is the author of “A Widow’s Awakening.” She also writes screenplays, playscripts and blogs. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and a co-founder of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. To receive Maryanne’s blog, “Weekly Words of Wisdom,” please subscribe here.

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