I was 28 years old and working in a Deli. I would set my alarm for 4:40 am…knowing that I had to be at work at 5 am didn’t matter to me…. it’s not as if I had to put on makeup or do my hair… whether I decided to show up at all… didn’t matter to anyone except me… my rent.. my student loans… car payment… weren’t going to pay themselves… I could quit at any moment and it wouldn’t matter… my manager could call someone else and have my position filled…. it didn’t matter how many hours I worked or how many shifts I covered.. it didn’t matter how hard I worked or how late I stayed past my shift…. it never mattered who’s job I was doing and when.. who I surpassed in skill and knowledge… none of it mattered. Yes.. I got the 50 cent raises and yes…I got the occasional pat on the backs… but overall.. I was always dispensable… a person who.. when questioning authority… was an easy target.. an easy person to get rid of… and I knew that… I knew that I was too old for this job.. too bitter.. too much… so I quit. I didn’t intend on quitting in the moment… here’s what happened: there was a predicted snow storm.. my boss made it clear that everyone HAD to be to work the next day.. that if the snow was too bad for someone he would pick them up. Two days before this “snow storm” (a snow storm in Seattle is five snow flakes hitting a windshield) I got into a horrible car accident.. totaled my car… could’ve died. BUT I made it to work… I got a ride and I made it past the “snow storm”… a manager called off and my boss told me that I had to do her job (I was doing it anyway, and not being paid for it) …. so I had it… I finally fucking said something… “I thought you were gonna pick up the people who wanted to call off”… and his response… in front of everyone was… ” bitch bitch bitch, if you don’t like it… then leave”….. so I left… I had an epiphany… and said… “okay..bye” I clocked out and left. Because YES, I bitched… I bitched about the fact that I saw him.. my boss… pissing in the sink in the work kitchen..a week before…. because he thought everyone had left for the day… but I hadn’t left yet because I was picking up the slack from the “knowwitall” college kids who had better things to do than get work done… so I was the one to step into my bosses shriveled dick pointing into one of the sinks that I do dishes in. I was happy that we had that snow storm.. that blow up… I was so hyped that he said ” then leave!” like a five year old… he might as well have shoved his fingers in his ears and said “la la lala lala” it forced me to move on… in that moment I thought to myself “what the actual FUCK am I doing?” I was jobless. I thought to myself “fuck” I immediately updated my resume and applied to every job in the surrounding Seattle area… I was hired…on the spot…at every grocery store… I felt incredibly special… and by special I mean… why did I ever go to college?
While I know how to be charming in interviews that deal with customer service and stocking shelves… it made me depressed. I didn’t take the jobs. Luckily, I lived with Matt and had enough money saved up to pay for our rent… Matt worked in construction.. with friends that he adored… but as much as he liked his job for the moment….he knew that it wasn’t permanent… he wasn’t passionate about building homes for people who wanted heated floors and sky lights for guest rooms.
We were unhappy. We wanted more out of life and we were sick and tired of answering to other people’s needs over our own.
We were living in a rented house in West Seattle… our own driveway.. our own little spot to plant a garden.. we painted the walls and decorated…I bought pillows from target and a tapestry from urban outfitters.. we were so hyped over this place.. we felt so lucky… until we started living there… we realized that every window in the house was painted shut… there was a major ant problem and the living room was so narrow that it was impossible to fit normal furniture…. we bought a fan.. ant traps.. and a love seat… we made it work… but after a year we realized that we spent well over twenty thousand dollars for a rented house in Seattle… with Windows that didn’t open and a bug problem. We needed a change.
Matt grew up in the fishing industry. His dad’s dad was a commercial fisherman, his dad followed in those footsteps… Matt spent every summer in Alaska as a kid… running around the mountainsides and rivers and hillsides… when he got old enough he worked for the canneries…18 hour shifts at 16 years old… when all of his friends were enjoying hot summer days in Seattle.. Matt was riding his bike to and from a trailer in Alaska… working for pennies and wishing he was at home making out with his girlfriend… like every other teenage boy. While Matt was working at canneries at this age.. I was bagging groceries at Kroger and learning what alcoholism was… dealing with a step dad that had no filter and lack of awareness… a mom who was loving and giving and trying her best but crippled by panic attacks… I was attending community college but never focused… just trying to get away from the both of them. While Matt continued to learn and better his education… majoring in Spanish and becoming fluent in the language… traveling to Argentina and Brazil…. I worked at Lowes… I became fluent in drills and saws and which fertilizer you should use on your lawn… but I also saved money… I saved and I saved and I saved…. and I left… I went to Ireland and Italy, Croatia and Amsterdam and Germany and Austria… and I didn’t do it on a college education… I did it on my own… my mom bought me a backpack for the journey… I still have that backpack… it’s a great backpack and I still use it.
Matt said to me one day “let’s buy a boat”, after many drinks and arguments later… we flew to Alaska and bought a boat. We “toured” boats… rain or shine we saw them all. To me, they all looked the same… aside from the one we landed on. We landed on the one that started… put the key in the ignition… it started.. we bought it. Every other boat we looked at had cracked windows… a sketchy engine.. sketchy seller.. leaky roof… just… oh who am I kidding… we bought what Matt’s dad told us to buy. From the moment we bought it.. it had something wrong with it. The moment it started raining.. Matt and I started to chain smoke… every part of our boat leaked… it was in storage for two years and started up right away… great…the engine was okay… but the cosmetics were fucked. We ripped the ceiling out… the stove.. the floor.. everything. While doing so we discovered old cds that were left behind… so we listened to Santana for hours and hours and hours. We scrubbed, scrapped, and sang “Maria Maria” as if music was being discovered for the first time.
The boat was ready, we were ready to get out there and fish.. our boat was solid. Hours passed. We passed Mick’s boat and waved to him.
We were catching fish but not many and were ready to go home, the weather was getting worse and the waves bigger.. it was my first time out on the open ocean so every little rock against the boat felt monumental… I was scared before Matt got on the radio… he had been on the radio the entire time with his dad.. it was comforting to hear the static of the back and forth… “dad are you on channel so and so”…… when his dad stopped answering the radio… we both thought that he was fixing something on his boat… Matt kept calling and I finally told him “stop bugging him”….
Boats began to race by… we changed the channel and heard “coast guard come in! Dances With Clams!”… Matt flew into gear and we found his dad’s boat.. driving around in circles… there was someone on board.. my heart sank and relief fell into my stomach…”there he is!” “His boat is just fucked up!”… “PHEW!”… we got closer and realized that it wasn’t him… it was just a guy shrugging his shoulders “what’s going on?”
Finally helicopters came. Fucking. Finally. They were called hours ago. After driving around for hours… they are here… we drive our boat towards the other rushing boats.. towards the sand bar…. the tide was low enough on this little island in the middle of nowhere that the helicopter could land…. that his body could wash up on. We couldn’t land our boat on the land.. it was too dangerous…. so instead we had to watch and wonder…. is he okay? We gave a “thumbs down” and “thumbs up” signal from our boat with no avail…. but I knew. I knew what was happening. They weren’t rushing to get him on that helicopter. As we stood there on our boat… I wanted to hold onto hope even tho I knew there wasn’t any….. Matt just kept screaming… was so sure that he was okay and so happy he was found. The coast guard rode a boat up to ours… Matt asked if they were taking him to anchorage.. the coast guard said “Matt, your dad is deceased we have to figure out what to do with his boat” I sat there on the fish hold.. shocked… in the middle of the ocean……I didn’t realize that it was real until matt said “uh.. okay?” And collapsed into my arms.
“I DON’T KNOW!” is what Matt yelled back at them, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”…was his normal response….”WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?!”…..we were in the middle of nowhere..our boat bobbing along the waves..each word tossed around like a game of ping pong….words echoing off the surface of the water…the wind barked like a dog..injected..gasping for its last breath. A boat by the name of “Cost Recovery”, decided to stick around and agree to drive “Dances With Clams” back to Cordova, he didn’t know our route..he didn’t know us…he didn’t know us..at all… he took hours out of his time to drive a boat..foreign to him… back to safety….I don’t know the name of this person….all I know…is that he saved us that night. I wish so badly that he knew how much we appreciate him. He never came forward and said “hey I did this for you”…is that fisherman code? I Don’t know, all I know is that….this dude brought us a sense of peace..at least Dances With Clams was in the harbor….whoever you are…THANK YOU. COST RECOVERY..PLEASE COME FORWARD.