But what kind of business could a Cajun with his skills go into? Why, the swamp tour business, of course, mon ami. He had himself a great business model plan: he would charge folks ten dollars each for taking them out for a swamp tour, and then, when they are in the middle of the swamp, he would then charge them 20 dollars each for getting them out of the swamp. It was a foolproof guaranteed money-maker!
First thing to do was he had to name the business and do what you would call some "marketing." What should he name it? Well, he first came up with Tibert's Swamp Tour. Then maybe Tibert's Swamp Tour Adventure. Then he scratched that off because not everybody wants to experience adventure in a swamp. They just want to look at things.
When Tibert found out how much it cost for a sign painter to paint a sign, especially since they charged for each letter, he decided on a shorter name Tibert's Tours, or T.T. for short. Man, he was so proud when he got his souvenir T.T. T-shirts back, with the big red letters T.T. on the front of the shirt.
That is, until one of his friends told him maybe it wasn't a good idea to take people out into the swamp for a three hour tour with them staring at the letters T.T. all the while.
But the t-shirts were already printed, and Tibert had to get the business going to pay for all the marketing. He got his big flat boat out, put a bunch of folding chairs in it, got a bunch of sacks and filled them with crumbled up styrofoam to use as life preservers. They weren't really needed since the water was only three feet deep in most places, and if you fell overboard, you could just stand up and walk back to the boat.
Tibert wanted his swamp tour to be memorable, of course, so he got a bunch of stuffed birds and stuffed alligators and nailed them to logs throughout the swamp. He also got a bunch of different stuffed birds and stapled their feet to the low hanging tree limbs so they were standing upright looking all natural like. That would give the folks on the swamp tour a real thrill for sure, seeing all those birds.
He had a couple of stuffed alligators situated on logs and in the grass, but they just laid there, so he thought of asking his friend Clarence to put on an alligator costume and swim back and forth when the swamp tour boat came by just to give the people in the boat a little added excitement.
Clarence was the only person Tibert could find who wasn't afraid of swimming in the swamp and coming up against a REAL alligator. Everyone knew that alligators hated the look and smell of Clarence. I wouldn't exactly say that Clarence was ugly, but when he was born his mother wasn't sure she wanted to take him home. He did smell, that's for sure. The Later Gator Cafe kept a can of industrial-strength Fabreeze handy just in case he came in.
Actually, there was one time Clarence did come up against a real alligator in the swamp, and the alligator had the choice of eating Clarence or eating a nutria, and the gator chose the nutria. So that tells you a lot right there.
As part of his marketing push, Tibert went to the Later Gator cafe in town and put up his flyers about his swamp tour business and all his friends were so excited. "Are you out of your mind," they all asked. "Do you know how much insurance is going to cost you for running a swamp tour business?"
Tibert looked at them, and then pointed to the little teeny tiny print at the bottom of the flyer, which read: "Take this tour at your own damn risk. No belly-aching about whose liable for a snake bite or other hazards associated with touring the most dangerous swamp in America."
They were impressed. He had made it sound even more appealing: Risk your life on Tibert's Swamp Tour. There's a thousand ways to die, but none as interesting as swamp gas or a swarm of swimming water moccasins comin' at cha.
So the first day of business came around and a family of four showed up at Tibert's dock.
"Is this the swamp tour?" the man said.
"You got the place," Tibert answered.
"How long you been doing this?" The man asked.
"Been touring the swamps for going on 40 years," Tibert said.
"Ever have any accidents?" The man asked.
Tibert thought a minute about his flying pirogue. "Nothing that required going to the hospital," he answered.
So the family climbed into his boat, put on the styrofoam filled life jackets, and off they went into the swamp from the dock next to Tibert's little cabin.
First they saw the stuffed birds standing on the logs. Some of them were leaning a little. When one of the children said it looked like they were stuffed birds, Tibert said," Yep, they are what you call "stuffed swamp herons." They make themselves look stuffed so as to fool all the heron hunters."
Tibert took them past a crashed seaplane where somebody had taken the wings off.
Then they came across the stuffed alligators lying in the grass. "Those kind of look stuffed too," the man said. Tibert smiled. "Yessir, stuffed with little swamp wildlife creatures that didn't run away fast enough."
Soon they came to a open stretch of water, and the man turned to Tibert and said," You know, on the other swamp tours, they usually throw raw chicken meat out into the water to attract the alligators."
Tibert looked at him like he was out of his mind. Throwing perfectly good chicken meat into the swamp water was a waste of money, and there's better things to do with chicken meat that involves breading, frying and eating.
"Well, if you want, just put your hand down in the water and swish it around a little. That will attract the alligators, for sure. Then, when they get real close, you can pull it out real fast," Tibert told him.
The man looked a little concerned, yeah, to say the least.
"But of course, if you pull it out too fast, the gator might jump into the boat after it, and then ALL of us will have to jump out of the boat into the water to get away from the gator. Then, when he jumps back into the water hisself, we will all have to climb back into the boat, except the slowest person, of course."
"Why not the slowest person?" The man asked nervously.
"Remember that stuffed alligator?" Tibert replied.
Just then, about 20 feet away, an alligator slowly appeared on the surface of the water and started swimming towards the boat . When it got about ten feet away, it lifted up its tail and slammed it down, making a big splash. The man and his family started getting upset, yeah, and demanded that Tibert turn the boat around and take them back to the dock.
"Check your tickets," Tibert said with a big smile. "You paid me to take you into the swamp. For me to take you back out of the swamp is another 20 dollars."
The man and his family stared at the approaching alligator and shouted," Okay, okay, just get us out of here."
Tibert turned his boat around and headed back towards his dock. He then turned and called back to the alligator, "Good job, Clarence."
Tibert quickly got back to his cabin, the family jumped into their car (after paying the requested additional fees), and took off down the road. They would be sure to warn all their friends how scary his swamp tour was, and how they thought they were all gonna die. Tibert knew that word-of-mouth advertising was the best kind, so hordes of more people would now be coming to his little swamp tour business.
Tibert went inside to get a beer. When he got back out his porch and sat down, he found the note from Clarence who said he wasn't going to be able to make it today.
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