First Day On The Barge.

I am currently at the auto body shop, waiting for Doug and his merry team of workers to finish up so I can take the Mole Hill truck back. That’s what I have been doing this Remembrance Day. Car jockeying. There is something comforting about the shop, though. It smells of machines and is grimy. Even the office smells mechanical and is grubby. It makes me homesick for Port Hardy.

My first day at work on the barge, I was seventeen, small for my age, and scared. I didn’t know my diesel from my gas from my stove oil, let alone a troller from a gillnetter, or a seiner from a packer. Boats were just big floaty things.

I learned the knot (clove hitch, I think it’s called) to tie the boats up. I learned to double check that our big old industrial-looking pumps were zeroed out. I learned to be fast getting the slips in to the cash register. And I learned that I would have to bring a bigger lunch. I had wolfed my sandwich and apple by eleven and by two, was thinking of dinner.

That was because I had never moved so fast for so long in my life: Run to the boat. Tie up the boat. Run to the hose, drag the hose. Run back to drag more hose. Run to see how the next customer was doing. Run to check fuel totals. Run inside with totals slips. Run back out to cast off a boat and run to the other side of the dock to tie up a new one. I hate running, but I never hated running the barge. Too much was going on.

My feet hurt so much by the end of that first day, I almost whimpered with relief getting my shoes off. I took a nap before dinner and then went back to sleep after making a twice-the-size lunch for the next day.

It was a steep learning curve, but I managed. More than that, I thrived. I got more efficient at my rounds, at estimating who would need what, and when. But that first day taught me a lot. It taught me that I was more than I dreamed I could be, and that I could do anything that I dreamed of.

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