Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Day in the Life

Reflecting upon today, it struck me how odd the following conversations were. Especially to have so many in one day. But the more I think about it, the more I realize this was a typical day in the bush.

Dillingham stormy skies.

9:30am Conversation #1:
I flew to Manakotak from Dillingham in iffy weather. This week has been filled with heavy snow and freezing rain. Not many planes have been flying. I was assured by several people that my pilot was one of the best, particularly in this kind of weather. We arrived in Manakotak to increasing clouds and snow flurries.
Pilot: Hope you have your overnight gear.
Me: What? No. I'm going back today.
Pilot shakes his head.
Me: I'm not going back?
Pilot: I'll try but it's not looking good.
As the pilot finished unloading boxes of soda and eggs, and pulling bags of mail from the nose of the plane, I walked up to him and said, "Come. Get. Me."
I wanted to grab him by his Carhart lapels and shake him as I shouted "COME GET ME!"  I restrained myself.

Painting of Manakotak. It really looks just like this.

2:30pm Conversation #2:
A kindergardener looked at me and declared, "I see gray hair."

3:30pm Conversation #3:
Talking with the special education teacher in Manakotak about the boat crossing to Aleganik School.
Kirsten: Just wait until you have to cross the lake in the spring.
Me: Why?
Kirsten: You push the boat across the lake and if the ice starts to break you jump in the boat!

4:30pm Conversation #4:
The pilot did come to get me in Manakotak. When we landed in Dilingham he said his van driver would give me a ride to wherever I needed to go.
Pilot: Be sure to ask Lance if he's having a good day.
Me: Oh yeah, why's that?
Pilot: He found out today that his live-in girlfriend is a call girl in the lower 48.
Me: Well at least she's pulling her own weight! Living here is expensive!
Pilot: She's sure pulling somethin'!

6:30pm Conversation #5:
Ordering my dinner at the diner in the hotel.
Me: I'll have the veggie lasagna.
Waitress: There's no lasagna.
Me: Okay, I'll have the portabello mushroom burger.
Waitress: Um, there are no mushrooms.
Me: Okay, the chicken burger with coleslaw then.
Waitress: There's no coleslaw.
Me: Fine, just fries then.
Waitress: Oh, um, do you mind that there's no ice for your soda?

Throughout the afternoon conversations I was also texting with my friend Rushell. She was having car trouble so I told her to borrow my car but it was sitting in long-term parking at Fairbanks airport. Fairbanks has had 10+ inches of snow since I parked the car on Monday. Rushell couldn't find my car. I don't have cell service out in the bush but I can text other iPhone users when I have wifi access. I only have wifi when I'm at the schools.

Each time I was about to text Rushell a crucial tip on how to find my car (such as, I can't remember my license plate number) I was interrupted for one reason or another. I had to ask the school secretary to call the pilot to check if he was coming, or I had to leave the school to catch my plane, or I had to order a dinner I didn't want.

Oh lord and butter.