INCIDENTS OF My TRAVELS to
NEVER SEEKING ADVENTURE YET ADVENTURE FINDS ME
What brings me to Alaska?
We introduced ourselves. Harry told us more of his company and his longtime partner Greenbaum. They have been in business for over twenty odd years, surveyors since their arrival to this newly minted state, forty ninth of the current fifty.
Jim mentioned on how he worked a crew in Florida for a few years after completing school, he was not much older than I, and up to an undisclosed turn of events was forced to leave and start anew elsewhere. He trekked the country until ending up here on this small island. Not as much of an ass as my first impression after all.
They looked at me. What to say. My history was not as impressive. Leaving the comforts of the region of northwest Indiana I escape west. Feeling confined and disappointed that my technical training at a prominent school only acquired a sales position at a downtown Chicago Radio Shack. And I was terrible at it, never made commission thus existing on minimum wage and the generosity of my parents.
A depression set, the confinement becoming a choking malaise. Then the fortuitous visit of a distant cousin on his way home from visiting Mexico invites me to come up and visit in Alaska. He can find me work. I would have a great time.
After his departure I considered and informed my father that I need to try this at least for a few weeks. A spring break, as I referred it. His reluctance turned to approval. He saw my sad state and considered that after all I will be with family.
But in the weeks preparing my departure my cousin was unavailable. Not answering any attempts of communications, telephone and letters, a hard decision was made. I will show up on his doorstep. I am sure he wouldn’t mind. So my father purchases me a ticket and I am off late spring 1987.
Arriving to the small island of Kodiak nearly a day later, five layovers and planes getting progressively smaller on each leg, I show a cabbie the return address from a post card he sent us in recent years. He drives me into town and on its edge drives up the side of a mountain to a lone apartment complex wedged on a cliff.
I knock on the door listed on the address. A young Filipina answers. I am perplexed. I say I am looking for my cousin. She closes the door and after a long pause he opens.
Scratching his head and looking over his shoulder he asks what I am doing there.
“You invited me. We tried to call.”
As it turned out his not receiving our calls, letters and all was not accidental after all. Worried that a green card marriage to the young lady would become gossip back home, smear the good reputation he had (my father thought the world of him) and especially ruin his courtship possibilities back in Mexico.
I promised him that I will not inform the family.
Relieved he arranged housing for me. I could not stay with him in the two bedroom apartment because his wife’s extended family lived there. He was already overrun with children and adults. A couple pets. He set me up in another apartment where two families lived. The Lunas, a husband and wife, had one of the rooms and another temporary family of three had the other. I was set up in a closet. I would have my bedding in there and at night sleep on the sofa. In the morning I would stuff my bedding back into the closet.
The following day he helped me get a job at the cannery where he was a courier for, not the co-owner as he lead all back home to believe. Sometime later showing up with his Republican voting card he told folks back home that he was mayor of Kodiak City.
So I had employment and a place to stay. Cannery work was satisfactory but long hours. I would work 16 hours most of the time and on brief days off I would hike into town or up the mountains.
At lulls between seasons, being Salmon, Dungeness Crabs and the ever brief Halibut, I would seek work through the town’s job service. Better to be active than stuck in a small apartment with the chaos of all those people.
At first they offered menial janitorial work. But through satisfaction surveys they found me to be reliable and offered me longer work. Roofing, siding, electrical I would show for them all and put in my time. Others utilizing the service to appear at the job site and begging the foremen to sign off on them as unskilled so they can collect unemployment. I, adopting my father’s work ethic, worked them all. No matter how hard or unknown. My enthusiasm was noticed and rewarded with continued work.
A year later this profitable opportunity for two brief weeks comes up and my agent rewards my diligence with the first option to accept it. I, of course, do not second guess my decision.
How can I convey that and compare this experience to theirs? I was embarrassed to convey it because of my believed inexperience and lackadaisical existence.
About the Author
I have always ended up in unexpected places. So I present a collection of my tales told over the years. Places that due to circumstances I might never go on my own accord.