On the ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge I sat outside on the deck. I took some pictures near the railing and returned to my seat with the aim of writing a postcard.
"You're not a very good windblock."
I look up. "Huh?"
"I said you're not a very good windblock."
Seated about 6 feet downwind from me on the same bench is a man dressed in a black business suit and a gray windbreaker. He is bald and holding a copy of the New York Times. I don't remember anything about his face.
"Mmm...Yep. I guess not."
"Doin' your best though, right?"
"Uh, yeah; right."
"I take this ferry twice everyday. To work."
"Where do you work?"
"In a bank, a big bank; US Bank... but it's been really tough lately."
"Just because of the economy?"
"Yeah, I thought I'd be able to retire last year, but things just kept getting worse. Now I'm hoping to retire this time next year. Yup, 2010...2010."
"Really? How old are you? You seem pretty young for retirement."
My dad's still working and he's 62...51 doesn't seem so bad."
"62! There was a time I thought I'd retire at 30!" he scoots a few inches closer.
"I work in real estate. Things were really good back then. But then came the wife and kids. That really changes things... but now that's over...
Yeah, I think I'm gonna go crab fishing tomorrow; just enjoy a day on the water."
"You get to just take off work like that?"
"Yeah, I get to play hookie when I want. So what are you in town for?"
"My sisters are meeting me on the other side. We're headed to a beach house where we're meeting up with my mom and dad and nieces and nephew."
"Oh, yeah? Yup, your dad...I bet he's got it all figured out... all of it."
"Yeah, I think so. He's so happy to spend time with the grandkids."
"Yeah, I bet so." A long pause passes between us and his head turns downward. He looks up.
"Well, you're not a good windblock, but you're a good conversationalist."
The ferry ride isn't even half-way through, but he picks up his newspaper and leaves with a short wave.
"Goodbye." I don't even have the chance to reply.
When I meet up with everyone at the beach house, my mom shows me these pictures:One her old Seattle friends emailed them to her.