Friday, June 24, 2011

Annnnnd we're open!

Overall things went off without a hitch, except that the toilet is broken and one of the gates won't go down. Other than that, it was actually pretty great.

The boat opens at 7, but I was scheduled to work 8-4:30, and had to finish a computer project first. I got down to the boat around 11. Ed said it'd been a steady stream of 1 and 2 car loads all morning. When he got to work (a few minutes late), the director of Public Works was there to take the first ride. So he was all frazzled. Forgot to unlock the boat, forgot to unlock the lifejackets and other stuff. Cracked me up telling me about it.

When I got there, I watched him drive for a few minutes before taking over for most of the rest of the day. Without the influence of other trainees (who know about as much as I did about driving the BV), I quickly learned the easy way to land the boat, and it was a piece of cake. Casual, easy, pokey.

My cousin, his girlfriend and son came by today. We basically had a party on the boat. Ollie, who's 5, got to ring the bell and blow the horn a couple of times. Basically goofed off. There was a lull of no cars for about 20 minutes.

There's a lot of stuff, supplies, that we need to set up. Stuff like paper clips, pens, scratch pads, post its, more toilet paper. Ed brought a whole kitchen's worth of food down, since he's working 12 hour days all weekend. He brought a watermelon! Do you know how much I love watermelon? A lot. Watermelon, on a boat, in the middle of the river on a sunny day is pretty much perfect.

I'll post my hours on facebook this weekend with my schedule, so you can come visit. COME VISIT MEEEEEEEEE!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The ferry opens tomorrow at 7 am! And I'm guessing we won't have a single rider for about 3 hours. But it opens!

I haven't posted in a week, which was brought to my attention by a few very PUSHY readers (coughTAMIcough). I've been pretty busy though, and most of it has been decently fun.

Almost every day, I've been down at the new ferry, hoping to get it set up, prepared, and most of all, finishing all the requirements so it can pass the final Coast Guard inspection. My main tasks for that were hanging yet more signs, (no smoking, turn off your engine, bikes over here, fares are this much), spray painting the ferry's name on 56 life jackets, and updating the first aid kit. The first aid kit was the one that was on the old BV, and some of the stuff in it expired in 1989! And really, we're supposed to have smelling salts and a tourniquet? Hell, I just took the first aid class and they said really clearly to just call 911 and apply pressure. I guess the nearest ambulance might be pretty far though, the nearest actual town that might have a fire station would be either Jefferson or Independence, and they're each at least 10 miles away.

Monday, the day I spray painted the life jackets, was glorious. It was probably 86 degrees, the first day of summer, and I spent it all outside. I managed to only get a mild sunburn, since I applied sunscreen 3 times in 6 hours. Even though I was really hot, it was sunny, and I was on the river. It made me realize how cool this job actually could be.

I drove the boat, too. It's really hard! It reacts much quicker than the WL does. It's also a lot faster than the WL, which supposedly they're going to change. Nobody goes on the BV to get anywhere fast, according to my boss.

Today, for a change, I was in the office doing bookkeeping. I have come to accept and actually enjoy the fact that my boss won't give me the "guy" jobs. He knows that I'd be a liability on the road crew, and that I'm a huge asset when it comes to computers, considering he can barely turn his computer ON. I did things like right clicking to copy and paste, or control-a to select all, and he was stunned. And he was utterly blown away when I said I could get directions to places...on my phone. heh. 21st century, yo!

So come one, come all, the ferry is opening! The hours are 7am to 7pm, 7 days a week. Cars cost $3, bikes are $1, walk on pedestrians are free. The bike fee, by the way, is a Very Big Deal. The WL is going to start charging bikers too. For one thing, I don't know if I want to touch a dollar bill that's been pulled out of those sweaty, skin tight shorts they wear. Plus, bikes have always been free. The BV gets a ton of bikers, huge bike tours come through all summer. It'll be a major pain in the ass to collect toll from 60 bikers before I can take them across the river.

I'm also going to wear a bit more makeup tomorrow. I'm guessing the newspapers will come down to take pics. Look for me in the paper soon, I hope!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A day on the BV

According to the foreman, I am "totally done on the WL." Basically that means all the rest of my coast guard training hours will be on the new boat, the BV. I spent two days out there this week. It's so lovely. All day you can hear the osprey calling, the songbirds, roosters, see fish jumping and the trees swaying in the breeze. I love it.

My day yesterday was pretty choice, so I'll just describe it all:
I got to work a bit before 8, and the foreman immediately had the other trainee and I head up to the WL. Evidently there was a snag bobbing just upstream from the boat and the morning operator was worried about it hitting the boat or the underwater cable.
So at 8:15 on a sunny morning, I was sitting in a motorboat in the middle of the river.

My coworker motored us over to the snag, and I gave it a shove. Sure enough, it wasn't lodged in the bank much at all, and could break away. I laid on my stomach hanging out and over the bow, and tied a rope around the snag. Once we hit the gas, we dislodged the snag, and dragged it downstream. The snag, which was probably 30 ft long and had lots of long branches, got caught in the underwater cable, the low water line. We had to maneuver it around the cable, but then, once past the cable, we just cut the rope and let it go. It was a pretty awesome way to start a day.
 Back at work, the foreman told us we'd be spending the day down at the new BV, puttering around, finding homes for things, installing non-slip pads, hanging signs, that sort of thing. It was great. We were down there by 11, and I hung about 20 signs, found homes for things like the first aid kit, the spill kit, and spare rolls of toilet paper. It was sunny. I was on the river. Nobody was bugging me. It was lovely, and I got a bit of a farmer's tan. Here's where I sat and ate lunch:

There were some guys hanging out on the bank, waiting for their friends in a boat to come get them. That was a fun bit of flirting. When their friends came, we looked the other way and let their boat pull up to the ferry, and the guys on shore walked across to the river end of the ferry and climbed into their friends boat.

At least 20 cars pulled up over the course of the afternoon, wanting to see if we were open. So here's the latest: the ferry is having a grand opening celebration on july 6th. We're hoping we'll be open for passengers before then, maybe around the 28th. That way we can work out all the kinks.

I also talked to my boss about my schedule. Since he's 100% certain that I will be on the BV (yay!), it comes down to the schedule. For now at least, we're assuming that one person will have a 4 day work week, with a ton of overtime (it's a 13 hr day) and a 3 day weekend, or a 3 day work week (with enough overtime pay to pay like a 44ish hour work week) and a 4 day weekend every single week. That's what I want. 3 days of work followed by 4 days at home. Can life get much better than that? Especially for the summer. It's possible that, in a few months, once the hullabaloo over the new boat dies down, we'll cut back to only operating 10 hours a day. At that point, I'd switch to a 4 day work week. Pretty damn awesome options, if you ask me! I think I can live with this awhile. Yeah, I'm looking for jobs, but there aren't a ton to apply for. I'm pretty excited about the new boat, getting my license and working solo, so it's not the end of the world if I do this for awhile.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not the best day

The rest of this week and all of next, I'm going to be down at the new BV ferry, helping to finish installation and learning to drive. There's some hope that we may be open for the public late next week or early the following. The ribbon cutting is July 6, btw.

A lot of what I did today was just stand around. There's really not an awful lot to do. Actual actions I did today? spray painted some pieces of metal. Hoisted a bucket a few times. Moved a truck, moved it again, then again. Unlocked the boat. Moved a bucket. Seriously--in 8 hours, that's about it.

However, I'm working with all guys. All physical, mechanical, rough guys. Who aren't used to a woman. Especially one, I guess, who's working along side them while wearing a pink polo and sparkly earrings. I know I said I wasn't going to talk about my coworkers, but I'm sort of pissed and upset today, so I'm going to anyway.

My boss basically only gave me "girl" tasks. Move the truck. Go get this out of the truck. Find a replacement for this screw. All the while, the guys are hauling around a one ton extension cord. I hauled it too, but then he'd go make me do something way easier. wtf. Meanwhile, the other trainee I'm working with, was seriously belittling. He'd intentionally ask me to hoist something that weighed 90 lbs, just so he could laugh. And when I'd ask questions, he'd roll his eyes as he answered.

The worst though:
We were going to take the boat for a spin, so I grabbed the key to unlock it. The other guys were standing around, talking about a problem we were hoping to solve. The chain was super tight, so I couldn't get the key to turn. Then, once loosened, I grabbed the wrong key. So it took me a second. Meanwhile, one of the guys, hollered, "Geez lady, hurry it up, we're waitin' here!" I finished unlocking, stood up and said, "Seriously [guys name], fuck off." I know. Super uncalled for and not appropriate. But how else am I supposed to defend myself.

At the end of the day, we were talking about all and I mentioned how hard it was to hoist stuff to my boss. And he said, "oh, don't you worry. You'll just be going back and forth. We call the crew in for any heavy stuff."

It's just really frustrating. I'm doing my best here, but it's true. I am a girl. I'm not strong. I don't know how to do this stuff, and I need some coaching. But stick with me for 5 minutes, and you'll see that I'm asking questions so I can understand everything. I'm trying absolutely everything before I say I can't do it, even hoisting a 90lb piece of steel up 40 feet on a pulley. It's so disheartening to be stuck with a crew like this for the next few weeks.

On a silly end note, when I got back to the shops at the end of the day, my old planning coworkers had pranked the HELL out of my car. DAMN YOU GUYS! I'd texted with them that I was going to be at the shops and would stop by if I could, and ended up not being able to. So they knew my car was there. When I worked in Planning, a pretty common prank specialty of mine was to put pictures of a particular coworker in odd places. Like in the middle of a chapter in the zoning code. So you'll be on the phone with a customer, and flip to a page about like, forest dwellings in the FT zone, and suddenly, there's a picture of Brandon, grimacing back at you! Cracks me up. When I left, I found a stash of like 20 pics of him (I had all sizes, down to the size of a quarter, and would photocopy more whenever needed), and sprinkled them all through Patty and Joe's stuff. Lo and behold, they had done the same to me. Last week, I was walking out my front door, looked over, and WTF, there was a picture of Brandon taped to a knitting tape measure. Seriously? I haven't worked with them in 2 months and I'm still finding pics?!?!

So I get to my car at the end of the day today, and it's COVERED with pictures. Not just pictures of Brandon, but a really freaky picture. It's brandon, wearing his pjs, holding his new niece, but they'd photoshopped a bad picture of me over the baby's face. SO CREEPY!!! There were at least 40 of these on my car. windows, door cracks, license plate, tires. Plus it'd just rained so they were plastered on.

You guys, you know I'll get even, right? I mean, it may take months, but it'll happen. Watch yourselves. For serious.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

random stuff

Life is going along, more of the same. I feel like there's not a heck of a lot to blog about. Thus, a bunch of random things:

1. A 50something year old guy named skip proposed to me yesterday on the boat. It went like this:
Driver: What's your name?
me: Jenny, what's yours? (thinking he must be a regular)
Driver: I'm Dave, and this [pointing to passenger seat] is my cousin Skip.
Skip: You've got a pretty smile. Will you marry me?
me, with a grin: Nope!
Skip: Aww, you must get proposals all the time.

2. I spent the day today working with an operator all the other operators can't stand. I can see what they're talking about, but really? It wasn't that bad. I've already decided that I'm not going to say mean things about ANY coworkers on this blog. I did find it interesting that THIS operator is the one most disliked.

3. I've worked for at least 6 weeks now, and I think today was the very first time I didn't hull out (hit the landing too hard, slamming/bumping the hull into the concrete ramp) at all. Maybe I did it once before. But I was very pleased. Today I felt like I had this. I was noticing trailers and loading the boat accordingly. I felt like I've been doing this for a long time and I knew the ropes, knew what to do, knew what I was doing. It felt...easy. Boring, even.

4. For the rest of this week and all of next, I'm scheduled for "shop days." Shop days mean, show up at the shop at 8, and do whatever they say to do. The intention for listing me as shop was so that I could get down to the BV (the new, still not open, ferry that I'll eventually work full time on) and start to play with it and learn to drive it. But they had to take apart the mainline trolley and redo the whole damn thing, so basically the boat's out of commission for the next couple days. (The mainline trolley, btw, is the dohickey up at the cables above us, that attaches the boat to the electrical system, basically. The way it was built, something was rubbing on something else and it could, in essence, electrify the whole boat. Considering the boat is metal...that's not a good idea.) So anyway, I have no clue what the heck I'm going to be doing this week. Or next, really. Some of the other guys, when they've been working on the BV, have been doing real physical stuff, putting stuff together, mechanical stuff. I can do all that, but only if someone walks me through it step by step.

5. A coworker who is not one to lavish compliments, said, "One thing I like about you is that if you don't understand something, you'll ask 10 questions before you touch anything." YES. I'm utterly willing to learn how to do anything (um, hello, I'm driving a ferry!), but I'm not willing to just wing it myself if I'm clueless. Asking questions means, to me at least, that I'll do it better the first time.

6. There's a really lovely park next to the east bank of the ferry landing on the WL. Have you been to Willamette Mission State Park? GO!! It was gloriously warm not long ago, and I took my lunch break over there. I walked a half mile into the park:
Until I got to a point where you could look across an oxbow lake to where the original Willamette Mission had been located. To give you a sense of where it had been, they outlined the buildings with pipe or something. I sort of loved it:
I walked a bit further to a lovely oak grove,

where I found a picnic table to settle down on to read my book and get utterly eaten alive by mosquitos. It was a really nice break. So much nicer than driving up to Maud Williamson park, up the hill on the Yamhill side, and sitting in my car. I go up there mostly cause it's the nearest place with cell reception. It's a sweet park too. No pictures of it though.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Deer in a box

One of the regular guys we see a lot is a Fish and Game cop. Last week they did a sting operation on a guy who, with his friends, had been living in his boat for about a month, getting drunk every night and fishing all night using two poles (which is against the rules, I guess). The fish and game cops put in upstream from where the guy was tied up, floated down, and pulled up right beside him before they turned on all of their spotlights. Evidently the guy was butt naked and sound asleep or passed out from the booze. And in the middle of them writing him a ton of tickets, he passed out again! I saw him the next morning when he boated up to the boat ramp to pick up his friends. Even from the other side of the river you could see the big handful of tickets in his hand.

This week, the game cop came across the river in a hurry. He said that a doe had been hit by a car, and that they had found one of her fawns. He came by later that night with the very very young fawn in a small box in his car:
The box was maybe 5 inches high. The poor fawn must have been terrified, but the cop said at that age, they like very small spaces, it was comforting. I so badly wanted to touch it, see if it was soft.

Yesterday afternoon, the cop came by again and said they'd found the sibling to the first, that they knew there was a second one but couldn't find it the first day. This one, a boy, was a lot more spotted than the first:
You can see the cop's hand, you can tell how small the sweet thing is.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Sorry for not posting for awhile. I only had a 1 day weekend last weekend, and was pretty damn grumpy about it. However, today was a damn good day for the most part, and things seem to be looking up.

When I got to work this afternoon, D, who I've been working with all week, didn't show up. Instead, the senior ferry operator, E, came on board. E, for you guys at the county, is like Joe--not my boss, but the guy you go to for coordination, ideas, and direction (Joe, don't flatter yourself. Really.). I've been a bit intimidated by E, he seems gruff and awkward and very very set in his ways. Surprisingly, I had a really great day working with him. He had me take tolls for awhile, since I do need practice coordinating properly loading the boat and quickly taking tolls (more on that later, maybe a whole post on toll taking and boat loading). Then I drove and took tolls the rest of the night, gossiping with him all the while.

He also gave me a lot of tips and showed me how he does stuff. Nothing was drastically different from how the other guys do things, but some things were logical in ways I hadn't thought of. Like, at the end of the night, have a set routine you don't deviate from. That way you'll be on your way home quickly, plus you'll be sure you did everything that needed doing.

At the end of the night, as we were walking up to our cars, he said that he was really pleased with how I was driving, and that I was doing a great job. He also said that I seem to be working hard to learn from my mistakes, which I really do try to do. That made me so happy! I feel like I'm doing well, and this is proof. He also said that he wants me to do most of the rest of my training on the BV--the new boat that's not open. Because of that, he's putting me on morning shift next week, so that he can grab me and have me do 8-4:30 whenever he wants, so I can run down there instead of working on the WL. YAY! I'm excited for that. I'm the only operator who hasn't been down to the BV yet. I can't wait to get my hands on the controls and see what it feels like.

Plus, he said I'm working a morning shift next week--that means I get a 3 day weekend!! The shifts are set. So if you're working D's shift (which I have this week), you work sunday through thursday. morning shift is basically monday through friday. So when you swap, you get a 3 day weekend. it makes up for having a 1 day weekend last week.

Oh! And my night tonight was just made 20gagillion times better. Around 9pm, I look up on the Marion County side, and a funny shaped grey van pulls up, then parks. I'm thinking, "could it be...?" then two women come out and come running down to the ferry. I start hollering. "SNARFY!!!!!" Snarfy (not her real name but I've never called her anything but snarfy) is a knitting pal, hilarious, loving, foul mouthed and wonderful. Gives great hugs. It was so great to see her and her friend. It made my night, and was so unexpected. They rode back and forth a few times, I honked the insanely loud air horn for them, E humored me and drove so I could gossip. It was fun.

The sad point of the night was that my sweet aunt Laurie had to put their wonderful wonderful dog Dodge to sleep today. I'm not a dog person. I never have been. But there are a few dogs I've known that I've loved fiercely, Whisper, Sheba, and Dodge. Dodge was a rescue greyhound, and acted like a very large cat. He looked pained and tortured if you tried to take him for a walk. He wanted to sleep on your lap if he'd fit. He was a wonderful dog.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Random act of kindness

Yesterday, in the middle of a very busy rush hour, we had huge long lines of cars backed up in each direction. Probably at least 20+ cars on one side, and with a 9 car capacity, that can be a long wait. In the middle of a 9 car load, the toll taker started walking around saying something to each car. Evidently, the woman in the last car on the left decided to pay for everyone's trip across the river. It's only $18 for the whole boat, so it's not THAT big of a kindness, but it was sweet, charming, unexpected, and gave everyone that warm and fuzzy feeling. She didn't look like she was made of money, she didn't look around expecting kudos. In fact, she sort of kept her head down and looked at her phone the whole way across, probably intentionally not making eye contact. It was a very nice thing to do.

Unrelated but similar, at the grocery store today, I was looking on the community bulletin board, and there was a small thank you card. Inside, someone had written, "To the kind woman who paid for my groceries last month, thank you. Your unexpected kindness reminded me of the goodness of people."

In other news, it's gorgeous and warm out. Which means it's all sorts of crazy busy. I'm expecting tomorrow to be a doozy. 80 degrees and sunny. Last night there were quite a few drunk people hanging out on shore, passing a bottle around...then getting in their cars and driving home. Evidently drunks are really common, more common than any of the operators expected. I'm not worried about my own safety, but the safety of everyone else on the road.