I know I haven't written in months. Michael died, and life got hard. Then I was transferred to the Wheatland ferry, and honestly, it's often hard for me to find pleasure here. It's very different from the BV.
To start out anew, I'm letting my coworker, Bruce, share a story. He told me about this one afternoon when I got to work, and I was laughing so hard I asked him to write it up for me to share. Here's his tale:
It was towards the end of my shift on a stifling, hot spring day. I take toll from all of the cars before I can shut the gate and drive the ferry across the river. It’s a matter of a few short minutes, since we run a maximum of nine cars per load. That’s three lanes of three cars each.
I was working my way to the end of the middle lane – a bright yellow jeep with no doors. Usually I take toll from the driver, but in this case I was on the passenger side and the passenger – a slightly rotund young man – was handing me the couple of dollars in fare. He seemed adamant about telling me that “she” – apparently the driver – “worked hard for this money.”
At first I didn’t get it. The passenger repeated that “She worked hard for that money.”
Under the impression that this was one of those tests where the customer uses humor to test your compassion for their great monetary sacrifice on your behalf, I deftly parried with “I work hard for this money, too;” i.e. ‘I validate your sacrifice through my own blood, sweat and tears.’
Not to be upstaged – clearly I wasn’t getting it – both passenger and driver reiterated that the driver worked hard for this money, adding that “she” – the driver – worked as a stripper. I eyed the driver – a long, thin young girl with multiple piercings and peach-fuzz on her recently shaven head.
“Uh huh,” I said. Okay.” There didn’t seem to be a way to end the conversation on a high enough note to satisfy the couple. Clearly they were looking for some response closer to incredulousness than I felt I could muster. I was meant to be impressed. And yet – I confess – I was not.
I took the dollars from the passenger and turned around – directly behind me – to the driver in the next lane, who was handing me a five dollar bill.
As I peeled off the ones just given to me by the stripper and her friend, I watched the face of the femaledriver I was now serving melt into a sort of slack disgust. Her hands reluctantly reached for the money as a kind of grunt/groan gurgled from her throat. Clearly she had also been a party to the conversation with the denizens of the jeep.
I finished taking toll and retreated to the wheelhouse of the ferry, raising the gate. As the engines’ props reversed and began to dig into the algae-green water of the river, I reached for one of the many bottles of hand-sanitizer scattered about me.
Yes, these are the moments I cherish.