I am a lapel pin, and this is my story about a trip to Excursion Inlet, Alaska just a few hours outside of Juneau.
As a lapel pin, I have travelled the world finding places of interest, people of achievement, historical settings, schools, churches, corporate offices and yes, the fishing lodge of Doc Warner’s in Southeast Alaska.
Doc Warner’s is a beautiful place surrounded by water, pines, blue skies and fresh air. It has bears, moose, sea lions, whales, dolphins, and fish that you can admire in their natural habitat. Stars that shine bright at night and a fresh air that just makes you feel good. I love Doc Warner’s.
Each year, the owners invite me to come, spend the summer and meet their customers and hear the stories of the fish that got away or the fish they fought all day long. Some of these people are new visitors, some are repeat visitors and some have returned every year for the past 10 years. So, you could say, I meet new friends and rekindle old friendships every single year. Its never dull, there is always someone with an interesting story to tell.
You see, the people that come, are of all variety. Men, women, teenagers, and yes, an occasional child. They come for various reasons, but mostly to catch the big one. They’ve heard the stories of 100 lb. halibut, and 10-20 lb. chum, pink and king salmon. There is no such thing as small fish. These are the fish that really didn’t get away and that is what keeps the people coming back.
The great thing about my job is I get to go home with every single visitor. On the last night of the week, Kristina, one of the owners takes time to sit down with visitors as they eat a hearty meal and tell them “you survived”. She then hands them me, a lapel pin, that says Doc Warner’s and has the year boldly printed.
I’m that lapel pin. I’m a small sort of thing, not much to look at, but the story I tell is quite big. I measure a whopping 1 inch wide and maybe a half in tall at best, but that doesn’t matter, I usually find a place of prominence in each person’s heart.
Not because I’m of any worldly value. I’m definitely not made of gold. I can barely claim a thin coating of gold plating just to have the appearance of something of value. No, my value comes in helping each customer remember their experience.
I have to admit most of the people that come are men, but these men go home and they tell big story after story of fishing in the wilds of Alaska. I help them vouch for where they’ve been.
I usually find a place of prominence with each person. Typically, it is on their next most important possession, their fishing hat.
I always love it when I see a hat with multiple Doc Warner pins attached, because that means we are long-time friends. They’ve been here before and I get to once again renew a friendship.
Now lest you think this is all about me, here are some of my friend lapel pins that join me each summer here at Doc Warner’s. Meet the “100 lb. club” lapel pin, or the ”25 lb. salmon club” lapel pin, or the “almost 100 lb. club” lapel pin.
These are good friends of mine. Not as lucky as me of course; but somehow, they seem to make the customers even happier than I do. Why you might ask? Well, I guess its because of how they get to meet customers. Let me help you understand a little more about each of my friend lapel pins.
The 100 lb. club pin goes to any person that was lucky enough to hook and land a halibut weighing 100 lbs. or more. This is the cream of the crop fishermen, the one with all the bragging rights. It doesn’t happen to everyone, and maybe as little as 1-2 a week. But you can see why being friends with this lapel pin might be the most coveted.
The 25 lb. salmon club pin goes to any person who catches a salmon weighing 25 pounds or more. Now this too is rare and may only happen 1-2 times a week. But even so, it’s not the awe-inspiring story of a 100 lb. halibut that take hours to pull in. None the less it is an impressive feat and worthy of friendship.
And now last but not least is the Almost 100 lb. club pin. Almost sounds second best, and maybe it is but let me explain how this lapel pin friend may be the best friend ever. While he doesn’t represent the heaviest halibut, he might just be the most exclusive. You see, to be friends with the Almost 100 lb. club you have to catch a halibut that is heavier than 96 pounds but less than 100 pounds. That is a small range to work with and places him as the rarest lapel pin. So rare in fact he may get over looked some weeks, and maybe even some summers.
So, now you know, I am a lapel pin.
My job is to motivate people, to remind people of experiences, to recognize people for great accomplishments, to unify people to a cause, to promote important events, and a whole bunch of other things.
But my favorite job as a lapel pin is to remind people of stories. Not my stories, but theirs. I don’t get to be pinned to a fishing hat for no reason. I get pinned because I remind that fisherman of his story, his trip to Alaska.
Years will fade away, people will get old, but whenever they see me, they will remember their adventure in Alaska and we will relive and tell the stories again as if we had just returned. Some of the details might fade, but that doesn’t matter it’s the feelings that are important.
I am a lapel pin, I help you tell your story, I help you remember.
So, I hope the next time you see a lapel pin, you will think of me, and you will wonder what story that lapel pin helps tell.