northwest wreath

...and happy to be contributing a totally non-political piece originally written for the Quilcene Community Center November newsletter.

Plus, we already sent our ballots in. So...

The following incident happened in Quilcene’s extended summer weather, mid-October; nearing the end of an only-occasionally interrupted run of sunny days, an extended summer, back when we hadn’t received much real rain.  It was great. I probably don’t have to tell you it’s over.

It was one of those rare rushes at the local (and only) bank in Quilcene; two people at the counter; two people (I would be the second one) in line. And, of course, I’m in a hurry. Not that I’m not always in a hurry. I am; but the first guy in line seemed, judging by his eye-rolling and fidgeting, even more so.

Now, obviously, a lot of banking stuff can be accomplished at the drive through ATM. Sure, but it lacks that personal touch; and, besides, there was a big SUV seemingly parked there when I drove by on my way to the Post Office, where there’s, again, only occasionally a line (always a line in Port Townsend), and the new postmaster seems to know me by my box number if not my name.

I always feel a bit nervous and rushed when I’m at the ATM and someone pulls in behind me. Mistakes can be (and have been) made. I tend to do a no-look wave, suggesting I’m almost done, and block their view if I happen to be pulling out a ‘fast 40.’ If there’s someone in front of me, I tend to worry that I’m making them suspicious and/or nervous. Since it’s not really proper ATM etiquette to make actual eye contact with other customers, there’s always that cash-or-dash (evolved from fight-or-flight) mindset.

And, of course, the person ahead of me frequently seems to be a first-timer at this or any ATM.

The action at the counter seemed to be taking an inordinate amount of time. Both bank customers were, and I shared this impression with the fidgety guy, probably trying to cash out-of-country, two-party checks, questioning something on last month’s statement, discussing the effects of rate hikes on the global economy, inquiring about safe deposit boxes, or, possibly, opening a new account.

The guy on the left at the counter, dressed in the always-fashionable (for loggers and for logger posers) Hickory shirt, suspenders, skagged-off pants, out-of-the-woods (not corked boots) footwear; had a full-sized pickup with a trailer full of cedar boughs (might have been fir) parked on the curb adjacent to the bank’s door, rather than between the painted lines; so, one thing that was certain; he was a local.

The other guy (possibly wearing Dockers and a collared, tucked-in shirt) turns to the local guy and asks something about the load. While they’re mumbling, the two tellers are moving from computer screens to printing things up, suggesting the transactions may be nearly complete, while fidgety guy seems to be calmer, while I’m almost at the limit of pretending to be anything-near-patient (and my patience is limitless, as long as I don’t have to wait); the second guy says, “Yes, I’ve just moved to Quilcene. I’m so happy to be here.”

“I’m so happy to be here.” I had to repeat it.

The Universe stopped for that second. Each of the parties involved, the Two Tellers, the Logger, Fidgety, another Customer who just came in the door, and I; looked at each of the others in this group, and at the New Guy (who didn’t look around) with a knowing look.

It was that moment, that laugh-or-suppress-a-laugh decision each of us had to make.

Yes, this day represented Quilcene at its best; and Quilcene’s best is spectacular.

But maybe Trish and I were lucky. We bought our place in Dabob in September, drove up here on Thanksgiving, 1978, to check it out; prepare for our move. It had snowed. It was cold. We moved here in December. It was colder. There was snow on the ground. Ponds were frozen; roads were frozen. The Hood Canal Bridge sank in hurricane-strength winds in February. There were glimpses of majestic mountains between storms. There was ice on the windshields, short days and long nights.

We thought Quilcene was always like that.

It’s not. And now we know. Still, we’re “So happy to be here.”     

Thanks for reading. And now back to worrying about the always tenuous state of our democracy.

Oh, and, when I get the time, I will write about how the Public Utility District's decision to charge fees for people, citizens, mostly poorer people, who, possibly working one or more seasonally-affected jobs, is sometimes (and I have been) forced to fall behind. The PUD already can and will (hasn't happened to me) shut off your electricity if you fall two months behind. Does the public utility, which seems to add to, if not pad its payroll and extend its footprint on a monthly basis; really need the extra money gathered from the poorer members of the, um PUBLIC?

When I get the time. Meanwhile, my latest bill, with some colder nights, is almost twice as high as a good weather bill.

If I don't get another piece in here before Thanksgiving; hope we all have a good one.

 

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