Every now and then I’ll start writing something in here that, for whatever reason, displeases me. More often than not, I’ll save it as a “draft” just in case I later think of a way to fix it.
Or just in case I am feeling crappy some day and not in the mood to write something new.
In this case it’s the latter.
For a couple of summers during university, I fished lobster. Looking back on it now, I see it as a fun and interesting experience. At the time, I didn’t exactly view it that way.
Have you seen “Deadliest Catch” on the Discovery Channel? It’s about Alaskan crab fisherman. It was named the deadliest job in the world. Well, my experiences were…
Not really anything like that.
Don’t get me wrong, you could totally get hurt. Or worse. A rope gets wrapped around your foot and you could easily get pulled overboard. Adding to the possibility of that happening was the fact that the dude I was fishing with was resisting the urge to make the switch over to the (much lighter) wire traps. He mostly used the old-school wooden jobbies.
He even had a few of these massive wooden traps. They must have been five feet long and weighed a ton. And he frequently changed his mind about where they were going to be set. So, this led to me carrying and stacking these puppies around constantly. It was good exercise though. And it made you feel burly. In fact, the entire job made you feel lousy with burl.
Something else that didn’t help with the keeping me safe business was the fact that I had to get up at 3 AM. That’s right. Now, I’m pretty much a romantic. And you know how people talk about how special and magical it is to watch the sunrise?
Yeah, that gets old.
The problem with being 19 or 20 years old and having your alarm set for 3 AM is that you are not nearly bright enough to not stay out until midnight at a party with your friends. You are not even bright enough not to do this almost every night.
This resulted in me frequently being half-asleep. Even at the aforementioned parties. Hmmm. I wonder if that was what lead to my habit of taking FOREVER to make a move on a woman I was interested in. Best not to delve too deeply into that…
Being half-asleep at parties is one thing. Being half-asleep while fishing is very much another.
I’d barely remember the ten minute drive to work in the mornings. Apparently my truck had auto-pilot. I don’t think that came standard on a Ford Ranger. All I do remember from the drive is that the local radio station seemed to play Marc Cohen’s “Walking in Memphis” every… damn… morning….
I still hate that song.
Somehow I made it to the wharf every day. But, that doesn’t mean that the boat was waiting for me every time. You see, the dude I was fishing with, in addition to resisting wire traps, also eschewed wearing a watch. I’ve never been completely sure as to why.
But, this led to him thinking that it was a certain time and then leaving without me. Typically, he was halfway out of the harbour when he’d see my headlights come flying down onto the wharf. He turned around and when he’d get back to the wharf, he’d barely slow down before yelling “Jump!” That was always a treat.
The conversation that occurred when I managed to land on the deck was always the same…
Him: You are late!
Me: I am not.
Me: Look at my watch.
Him: I don’t need a fucking watch. I go by the sky.
I am not making this up. I always resisted the urge to make two points that I felt were quite salient to the proceedings:
1) This is Cape Breton, it is ALWAYS foggy and/or overcast.
2) As the season progresses, it begins to get brighter earlier.
I’d even ask him if he wanted me there at an earlier time. He’d always say no and tell me to just “Be on time!”
I should mentioned at this point that the fisherman dude was (and is still) a close family friend. Good guy. I appreciated the job. But, he is a character. I actually thought about writing a book about my experiences. I really wish I had written things down. At the very least, this entry would have been much more entertaining.
I’d probably want to devote an entire chapter to the year when two nearby fisherman began shooting at each other because each thought the other was pulling his traps. I bet THAT doesn’t happen in Alaska. When they’d come near us at the same time, we’d decide to go pull traps as far away from them as humanly possible.
So, I’m on the boat and I’m half asleep.
When running between tiers/strings of traps, I’d duck under the… overhangy thing (that is a complicated technical boat term) to get out of the wind/rain/sleet/snow/spray etc. Sounds simple enough. One problem is that I am 9 feet tall and the overhangy thing… well, it isn’t. So, I’d have to duck. And I’d have to stay ducked to allow for waves knocking us around. TiredPeter would sometimes forget to stay completely ducked. TiredPeter perpetually had lumps on the top of his noggin.
I’d also duck under there to eat — something you also did on the fly, as you ran between tiers. Before my first fishing season, I had found out that I was allergic to almost everything and nearly died and junk. I got put on a restrictive diet. Therefore my lunch was not that of a typical fisherman. While others would eat huge sandwhiches and wash it down with a beer, I was eating rice crackers with almond butter and drinking bottled water. Those judging looks alone will knock the burly right out of you.
My half-asleepness would continue until I got home. As soon as I’d arrive home, I’d fall asleep sitting up in a living room chair for a half hour. Every day. Afterwards I’d grab a shower and head out. But, I needed that half-hour.
If I woke up before that half-hour mark, I’d be very confused. Actually, let me backtrack for a moment…
When you are on the boat, things occasionally fly into your mouth. Saltwater spray. Rain. Rotten bait. This happens even more often when you are talking – or arguing about the time. In these instances, you simply spit overboard. It’s not very classy, but it’s got to be done.
So, one day I am in the middlle of my half-hour power snooze when I taste something in my mouth. Something unpleasant. I barely open my eyes as I lean to my left and spit over the side of the chair.
And into the middle of our livingroom.
My sister was there and she CRACKED up completely. She still laughs about it. If she wasn’t The ACN’s Mommy she would be so disowned.
Before I could leave for home, however, the fisherman would get me to take the lobster into the pound with him. Sounds reasonable, right? These crates were heavy and I would help him load and unload. The one flaw with the plan is that he’d make me drive in his truck with him, despite the fact that my house was between the wharf and the pound. So, every day I’d have to drive back and forth to the pound – passing my house twice – in his truck. And every day when we returned to the wharf, he’d say, “Okay, you can take off now.”
I didn’t even bother arguing this one.
But, that is not even nearly the thing that bugged me the most. Which is, essentially, the reason I wrote this entire thing. What bugged me the most is that every single day when the boat reached the wharf, I had to clean all the windows with Windex.
This was a fishing boat, and not the glass in the doors of an china cabinet.
People that know about fishing still laugh when I m
And to this very day the smell of Windex enrages me.
And that, dear readers, is why I don’t like doing windows.
As for why I don’t like cleaning bathrooms…
Well, for a couple years during university, I worked cleaning up after elephants in a zoo.
About the zoo part.
The fishing stuff is all true. And sadly I’ve forgotten soooo much of it.
Forgotten or blocked out.