Taking the bait
A smelly little place becomes one determined man's life
Published: August 15, 2012
Or maybe they come because of his playful demeanor, made funnier by his syrupy drawl. To the elderly man who comes shuffling in, he says, "How can I help you over there, young man?" To the grandfather who comes in with two grandkids and can't tell the difference between the two kinds of minnows offered here, he barks, "You've been fishing for 200 years and you don't know the difference?" To the man who brags about a huge fish he just caught, but admits it wriggled off his line, "Then you didn't catch him if he got away! No! No! No! No! No! You hooked him. You didn't catch him. There's a difference now!" And he spends 10 minutes merrily berating the man until he admits he never actually caught the fish.
When Freeman took over he gave himself four years to break even. It's already been two so far, and it still hasn't happened, though he makes enough money to survive the winter months when the store is closed. "Well, sometimes I have to play catch-up with the utility bills," he admits.
But it's important to keep trying, he says, important enough to work 16-hour days. This is his world, the place where his social life is centered, where people come to share countless fish tales that almost make up for him not having had time to fish since the shop reopened, and since his fishing buddy died. Besides, how many jobs are there where you can doze off under a sunny windowpane and sleep until someone needs you?
"The simple reason is, this is all I've done for 20 years," he says, looking drowsy again. And utterly contented. "This is just something I enjoy. This is really what I want to do."
Detroitblogger John is John Carlisle, who scours the Motor City for its stories. Send comments to email@example.com.
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