Sometimes jokes fall flat. Other times they lead to the Dallas Police Department getting a free boat.
In December, Ross Perot Jr. donated a helicopter to DPD, which prompted a certain editor at D Magazine to facetiously suggest on the publication’s FrontBurner blog that another Dallas man of means, Victor Vescovo, ought to donate a submarine. For those unaware, Perot holds a record for being the first to circumnavigate the globe in a helicopter, while Vescovo holds a record for being the first to dive to the deepest points of the planet’s five oceans. Get it?
In January, that editor received an email from Vescovo. It began:
“I’ve just returned from a long marine expedition in the South Pacific and was alerted to this article you published recently. I have immense respect for Ross Perot Jr., even though I have never met the man. We both went to St. Mark’s and are both helicopter pilots, but yes, I was very heartened to hear about his contribution. While I don’t have a submarine handy to donate, I do potentially have a Protector-class boat to possibly donate. I am upgrading the ship’s boat we use to protect the area where the submersible operates, and will therefore soon have a surplus vessel.”
Vescovo requested assistance in contacting the proper person at DPD to field his offer. A brief delay ensued, as that person at DPD ignored the editor’s first email, having taken it as a joke or possibly a bizarre phishing scam, which it wasn’t. Eventually, everything was worked out.
At this writing, in early March, Learned Response was in San Diego, undergoing an extensive refurbishment at Vescovo’s expense. (The boat itself is worth somewhere in the high range of the low six figures.) The boat will then make its way overland to Dallas, arriving sometime in the early summer. These things are hard to pinpoint.
Asked why he was going through all this trouble and expense, Vescovo wrote: “I was born and raised in Dallas, and more than a few times the DPD has been very helpful to myself or my family when we were involved in an accident, victim of criminal activity, or just general assistance. I am a strong supporter of the police, and given my nautical background, it just seemed appropriate to donate this vessel to them if they can keep it gainfully employed.”