At the end of the last installment, I was winding up my visit to the Kalispell, Montana area and heading back to Seattle to seek my next fishing gig. I was better equipped for the job hunt this time around, and found a contract quickly, with Premier Pacific Seafoods, on the inimitable Ocean Phoenix. I don’t remember much about the job hunt, except that when I went to fill out the paperwork, I got myself stranded on Harbor Island with no money and had to walk to the closest ATM so I could withdraw money for bus fare.
The closest ATM to Harbor Island at that time was in Pioneer Square – about 4 miles away, which doesn’t seem that far now, but I remember it as an odyssey – trudging along under the late-summer Seattle sun, through the Duwamish Industrial area, under highway overpasses, and across long stretches of asphalt, before I finally reached Pioneer Square, civilization, machines that spit out money, and a stand selling the best lemonade of my life.
I think forgot to mention, when I was in Montana there was a fair bit of, shall we say, indulgence – some not strictly legal. This wasn’t really that big a deal, since I didn’t really need to have my wits about me for the nonstop rounds of cribbage, gun shooting (oh, wait) and walking in the forest, but I made a rookie mistake. I forgot about the pee tests.
On my last night there, my Montana friends gave me a little send-off. Somebody’s brother’s buddy procured a bag of mind-bending cannabis of a kind I have never encountered, which wouldn’t mean much because I have encountered so little in my life, but even the hardcore stoners in our little party said it was … let me see if can remember … “potent shit.”
So, anyway, the next day, still slightly groggy from the night before, I hopped the Empire Builder from Whitefish, and arrived back in Seattle the next day. Within a week of the going-away party, I had secured the new job and was scheduled for a pee test. Doh! Did I mention that the stuff we smoked was really, really potent?
Not knowing what else to do, and not wanting to blow the job, I bought a ‘cleanse’ kit. I can’t remember where I got it. Do they sell them at Walgreens? I’m sure I asked around the hostel for advice, but the details are lost to time.
The instructions involved drinking enormous amounts of water, so I drank, and drank and drank. I drank until I couldn’t possibly drink any more, then I drank some more. I have since read that this can be dangerous, but I didn’t know that at the time, and apparently the gods of sodium regulation were smiling on me, because I survived.
I took the test, and, a day or two later, reported for duty at the boat, which was docked near Magnolia in Seattle. We were going to be in port for about a day and a half, loading on food and supplies, before pulling anchor for the North Pacific. I hoped that I had passed the test, but I had heard that they can pull you off at any time before the boat leaves port, so I kept thinking I was going to receive a tap on the shoulder and be told to leave.
Stay tuned …