I am accustomed to being able to work from anywhere. Too accustomed. So being the only individual who could produce weekly demographics for payroll did not seem to be an issue before I went on vacation.
I did my due diligence. I requested a hot spot from IT (none working were available), verified WiFi was stated on the website, and worst case scenario could easily turn on my cell mobile hot spot though it would be an unreliable connection.
Do not believe everything you read.
To my consternation there was zero cell service. I wasn’t sure where I lost it, but it didn’t exist in the fishing village. Likewise, the WiFi was expensive and unreliable. As the sourly clerk stated, “it’s good for checking emails, that’s about it.”
Not sufficient for a VPN link into the system’s server.
With the Oh Craps running through my head I quickly drove halfway back to Bridgeport to Hunewill Ranch, the first location that offered cell service before reaching town. Quick internet search suggested there was free Wifi available, and back up the mountain I went for the next few days, secure in my knowledge I will not fail in my duties.
Two days later off to town I went. I parked, I stretched, I mosied to the cafe with the easiest internet to access.
To be told the internet was down. Um, what? Butterflies coming up my throat.
Me: Is there anywhere in town I can access the internet?
Barista: Well, the library.
Customer: But it’s closed.
Barista: Oh ya, it’s Sunday, it’s closed.
Customer: You can sit outside on the bench, that should
Me: Where is the library?
Barista: Um, turn a right, I mean a left right after the courthouse.
After receiving my coffee with room for cream, I hoisted my bag onto my back and took a walk to the library.
The bench, made of heavy wire wrapped in rubber found at bus stops, leaned forward causing my knees to be lower than my thighs. To prevent my laptop from sliding right off the end of my knees, I flexed my feet and rested on my toes. Although this position prevented the laptop from sliding, my thigh muscles tensed into a rounded surface on which the laptop balanced. Due to the chilly breeze and the required balancing act, I was hunched over while pulling the needed reports.
The town elders emerging from what appeared to be the original small town church probably thought me quite the spectacle.
As I stretched my back before attempting my third VPN connection, I thought to myself: I’ve become my grandfather.
While memories of my grandmother rest like cotton wisps on the village, merging with every sense at the least expected moment, memories of my grandfather snap momentarily and are gone.
Fidgeting with his fish finder on the boat.
Standing at the phone booth for two hours on a client call.
Hunched over his laptop at the farm style table.
The clearest memory prodding me on my drive back up the mountain was learning how to gut fish. I asked only once why my grandmother was excused from the clean-what-you-catch motto, to which he gruffly replied “you cook, you don’t clean. You don’t cook, you clean.”
If we were lucky we cleaned fish twice daily. Unlucky meant no fish and no cleaning. To my young mind unlucky was a win-win.
A circular whetstone sharpening the fish knife with a rhythmic scrape began each ritual. With hands beginning to bend and cramp with arthritis, my grandfather lounged each fish on it’s back, sliding one thumb under a gill and the corresponding forefinger under the other. The freshly sharpened knife would deftly slide up the underbelly of the fish and, with a flick of the wrist and scalpel precision, cleanly cut the tendon under the jaw.
Two fingers in the mouth and a quick pull downward, the lower jaw, gills, and innards slid onto the counter covered in newspaper. Crunch, head cut off, and with his surgery done the fish was handed to me for rinsing and scraping of blood along the spine.
Despite the twice daily practice, this trip did not resonate with ghosts of grandfather’s presence. Part of this could be due to his passing in my late teens, seven years before my grandmother. Part of this could be due to his being a machismo man surrounded by a family of females. Part of it could even be due to my cousin cleaning fish and not requiring me to have any part of the procedure.
None of these reasons resonate.
While I was learning cards from my grandmother and aunt, he was toiling away at his client list. As I got older, a laptop replaced yellow legal pads of work. My grandfather was determined to build his business and retire, so he could live the Louis L’Amore fantasy on the family ranch. To him, stepping away prematurely would be weakness and failure in providing, so he kept his sight on when they would be secure enough to leave the business behind.
A goal that became unreachable.
While he was so busy working towards his future, my grandfather missed his present. He missed his daughters growing up. He missed family vacations and the small moments that fill space and time in memories. I missed knowing the man who taped hours and hours of cartoons for his baby granddaughter.
This runs in my blood.
I quit my job today.