By Ken Schultz
The other day I was standing behind someone at a lunch counter who took out his wallet and extracted one of several credit cards inside. The wallet was pretty slim overall.
My wallet has gotten thicker in recent years, and not because there’s a lot of currency in it or a pile of credit/debit cards. In fact, it’s nearly 1 3/4 inches thick. So a bit of thin-wallet envy kicked in when I looked at the holder of the guy paying for his cheeseburger.
And then it occurred to me: he’s not a fisherman.
At least not someone who fishes in freshwater and saltwater in multiple
jurisdictions like me. That’s a big reason why my wallet has gotten thicker. Here’s what is permanently bundled into it:
Some of these items are merged together like a grilled cheese sandwich. The naturalforces of compression, plus perhaps humidity and sweat, have joined them in a layered union.
Sometimes my wallet also contains other nonresident-state fishing licenses and paper stamps. It also holds the obligatory credit cards, health insurance card, blood donor card, CPR training card, and paper money.
It used to also contain paper boat registrations, now in a container in the boat, as well as my former fishing/hunting/non-whitewater boating guide’s license.
I’m thinking about removing all of the fishing-hunting-boating items and scanning them into one document, then putting it on my smartphone so it can be viewed and shown if necessary. But what if the phone’s battery happens to be dead when I’m stopped by the game warden? Should I also scan those items onto the back and front of one (thin as possible) sheet of paper and tuck that into my wallet?
Can I get away from having to carry all of this proof in my wallet? Can’t the warden go online and look me up to see if I’m legal? Sometimes the warden can, using my driver’s license. But what if he or she can’t get a WiFi connection when I’m checked in the marsh, offshore, or in the cottonmouth swamp where I’ve hauled my kayak. He or she may want physical proof.
Seven times in the past six years I’ve been stopped by marine law enforcement officers while fishing. Six (all in Virginia) did not ask to see my license or boat registration because I have stamps on the gunwale that show I’m legal. The seventh (in Maryland), had to wait until I peeled apart the grilled cheese sandwich to get to the license he wanted. Ditto for the DNR officer who wanted to see my plastic freshwater license recently.
Meanwhile, my pants pocket bulges from obese-wallet disorder. There’ll be a big problem if I ever lose the wallet. Or dunk it and then have to separate and spread out all the bills and papers to dry.
Been there a few times in the past.
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