Could you just let me fish?

A highly personal rationale for saving the Friendship Trail Bridge.

Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners

315 Court Street

Clearwater, Florida 33756

Dear Esteemed Pinellas County Commissioners.

I hope this missive finds you well. Allow me to open by conveying my thanks for your service to Pinellas County. I’m sure it is at times a frustrating or even thankless task, and I appreciate your collective efforts.

I am writing you today to request that you consider granting a special dispensation allowing me the use of the fishing piers on the Pinellas County side of the Friendship Bridge.

Yes, I know that the Friendship Bridge is in a state of dilapidated limbo, and that, in the words of Hillsborough County Public Works Director Bob Gordon, the bridge “could collapse into Tampa Bay at any moment.” But I’m willing to deal with the risk, and to sign any waiver of responsibility on the part of Pinellas County, in order to have a nice, quiet and convenient — however potentially lethal — place to spend a few hours fishing when I can find the time.

I love to fish. I don’t own a boat, and a quick perusal of my personal finances reveals that the soonest I will be able to afford a boat is in approximately 219 years. And while I do enjoy wade fishing, canoe fishing and walking many of southern Pinellas County’s many seawalls and shorelines, it’s getting harder to find pristine locations, easy access to the water and, most importantly, solitude. Nothing ruins a few hours’ angling quite like four German tourists bringing marlin gear and an iPod speaker dock blasting Kraftwerk to a redfish flat, or two drunken jackasses vomit-jousting as they buzz each other on Sea Doos. I’m one of those guys for whom just being out on the water is at least as important as actually catching fish.

So you can see why the idea of having my own key to the kingdom, as it were, is so attractive. As a conscientious sportsman, I only occasionally keep my catch for the table; I obey all of the size and limit laws, and it’s been decades since I pummeled a catfish to death in a fit of frustrated rage. I’m also an excellent swimmer. In fact, anyone who habitually attends pool parties at the home of one of my fellow Loafers will attest that I can swim with an impressive degree of proficiency even after suffering a variety of severe injuries due to misadventure.

And I don’t want you to think I’m asking you to do this for me simply because I feel entitled. In return for this generous … gesture, I will provide the Commission with five (5) tourism campaign pitches. I’ll be serious about it, too. None of the “America’s Wang’s Wang” or “So Much Less Murder-y Than You-Know-Where” stuff. Real marketing materials, for you to do with as you see fit, as a token of my gratitude for the privilege.

So, just think about it, OK? It won’t cost you anything. In fact, considering the going rate of PR copy these days, you’d be coming out ahead. My wife might worry, but I suspect any concerns on her part would be offset by the knowledge that I’m not out in the water somewhere, making shark bait of myself in the dark. Hell, it won’t be long until you get around to tearing the thing down, anyway — or until it falls into Tampa Bay.

But just maybe it’ll still be there when I’m able to afford that boat.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Scott Harrell

Read more Scott Harrell at lifeasweblowit.com and twitter.com/lifeasweblowit. Follow him @lifeasweblowit

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