The Id and The Odyssey; Episode 39
There is little doubt why the town was named Rockland. There were rocks everywhere. A stone quarry laid west of town. As Rich entered the town he caught sight of the harbor dotted with lobster boats. He immediately peddled to the waterfront.
“Alas!” Rich said, “my destination.” His feelings were overwhelming. He felt as if this was the place he was taken from and deprived. His entire life had been a waste because of not being here. He inhaled deeply the harbor air. It filled his longs. It was now forever a part of him. He wanted to hold his breath forever. He slowly relinquished the harbor air in his longs like a goodbye to a lover. He sat on a bench and wrapped himself tight in his jacket. He closed his eyes. “Thank you, God.”
His face was cold, but his heart pounded and his chest was warm.
For two hours he prospected for work; gas stations, restaurants, retail stores, and boatyards. Employment prospects were bleak.
He walked into the newspaper office, The Rockland Beacon, to purchase a newspaper. The sound of typewriters clacking away filled the lobby. On the counter was a stack of papers. Next to it was an open cigar box with the lid propped open. On the bottom of the lid it read “7 Cents.” Inside the box was some loose change. Rich reached in his pocket and counted out seven cents and dropped it in the box. He grabbed a paper from the stack and sat on a bench in the lobby scanning the want ads. The thought crossed his mind about renting a motel room to clean-up and buy a suit for a good impression.
There was only a couple of jobs; non he was qualified for. Rich put down the paper and stood. He looked at himself in a mirror to his right in the lobby. “I’m not all that bad,” he thought. “In fact, I look better than the guy at the gas station just outside of town. There were some deckhands on a ferry that sure could have used some sprucing. At least I was shaved and had combed hair and my cloths were clean.”
Rich approached the counter. Five woman were behind the counter at desks pounding away on typewriters. A lady with clear horned-rimmed glasses came to the counter.
“What is it you need?” She said.
Rich smiled, “A job. Ma’am, I’ve been peddling a bike for almost two weeks. I know I don’t look very good, but I’m used to work and I’m honest.”
“Where ya from?” she said standing back for a full view of Rich.
“Ohio,” Rich said.
“Well you look a bit better than the guys who work the lobster boats,” she said.
“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said.
“Wait here and have a seat,” she said, walked to the back of the room, and up a staircase.
Shortly, she walked back down the steps. Behind her was a man with light wispy hair and a fair completion. He had soft and delicate features and a round face. He wasn’t overweight, but seemed flabby and out of shape. The lady went to her desk and the man stepped from behind the counter. Rich stood. The man quickly looked Rich over. Rich was at least four inches taller.
“I’m Samuel White. I’m the owner of The Beacon.”
“I’m Richard Larsen and I own that bike and the gear chained to the lamp post out there.”
He lifted his head and looked. “You peddled that thing from Ohio?”
“Yes, sir,” Rich said.
“You want a job?” he said.
“Yes, sir,” Rich said.
“Follow me,” he said and walked to the steps. The steps cracked and groaned as they walked up.
“Have you ever worked at a newspaper.”
“I delivered for two years,” Rich said.
“Experience in distribution,” he said.
“Sales too,” Rich added. “I had to go out and find new customers. We even sold subscriptions to magazines.”
“So you have vast experience in the print media,” he said as he opened the door to his office that had glass windows. “Have a seat and let’s talk about your future,” he said gesturing to a round back wood chair.
Rich sat and scanned the office quickly. An old Underwood typewriter was at the side of the desk on a pull-out extension. There were two four drawer wood file cabinets and book shelf against the wall that went only as far as the widows to the office next to us. His desk was stacked with copy and newspapers.
“Can you start tonight?” he said.
“Sure,” Rich said smiling.
“This may not be what you want,” he said. “It’s only part time. It’s six nights a week, Monday through Saturday, four hours a night. I need you to clean the offices and the press room. How does that sound to you?”
“I learned a lesson some time ago,” Rich paused. “What is the pay?”
He smiled. “I was hoping to hire you for free. It doesn’t pay a lot. It’s a dollar an hour.”
“If you can make it a dollar twenty-five I’ll keep your front windows clean and shovel the walk when it snows.”
He puckered his lips and thought, “A dollar an hour and I find six more hours of work a week for you.”
“I start tomorrow?” Rich asked.
“Be here at five, today. I’ll show you what has to be done and for the next few nights. I’m going to be here late so I can…”
“Keep an eye on me,” Rich finished the sentence.
He grinned and said, “and that too, but to answer any questions. Until I see if you are going to work out I’ll just pay you a straight thirty a week. This week, if you start tonight will be just twenty-five.”
“I can’t wait to start,” Rich said. “Oh, by the way, do you know anybody that has a small apartment for rent.”