Two days out, prior to approaching California’s coastline, laundry of all things, became a priority.
Our washing facility certainly didn’t resemble a laundromat -size wise- by any means; it looked like the busiest time ever as we each took our turn. Thankfully it all worked out and blood was not shed on that day. 😁
Packing my belongings of course included all the acquired souvenirs. In Japan I had purchased an AKAI reel-to-reel stereo system (more on its important use later down the storied road) and a couple of half gallon bottles (1.75ltr) of Johnnie Walker. I paid just about half the price for these than I would’ve paid in California.
Okay I know, that was then and this is now but oh, how we older folks love to say it anyway, “Remember when you could get a gallon of gas for approximately .35¢? Or how about picking up a .23¢ loaf of bread and a mere .44¢ for a gallon of milk?” I know, it just sounds better now but if only you could take your current wallet to that place back in time, well …
If you’ve been with me through all this then you already know, most of us were employed through the Union and that meant this assignment was over once we disembarked at the port in Oakland.
If anyone had intentions of joining another ship -or this one if available, a check-in/re-registration for reassignment was necessary. That wasn’t me … and considering the way this assignment began? I had to get my butt home as soon as possible!
nO matter where I’ve gone in this world, the homecoming -to me- has always been sweeter than where I’d been. I was looking forward to being with my family once again.
The final dinner I served to my officers. I asked the Skipper while he was still seated as was the rest of the dining room, if my service in all this time had met their expectancy …his expectation most importantly.
He said, “Fiji. It was top-notch! In fact we all would love to have you continue on with us.” The room of Officers applauded along with the Captain. I noticed a figure at the door looking in -it was Phil with a big smile on his face, he gave me a thumbs up! and silently moved away. I remember feeling quite satisfied.
With empty cargo holds, we near-completed our cross Pacific trip in about a week and a half. A warm feeling washed through me as I observed our approach towards the Golden Gate. Her lovely bridge provided great happiness; a reassurance, testimony if you will, that I had returned safely to my home in America.
I also knew that once my sea legs touched United States soil, I’d have to rent a car and drive to Los Angeles …to my wife and three children.
We were all lined up, chatting excitedly while waiting our turn to collect final salaries and sign release papers. The Union’s responsibility for our welfare was over once I signed my name on the dotted lines.
My pockets were now loaded with cash – it’s how they always paid us and this morning, all accounts were fully settled. Pockets full wasn’t something you wanted to make public knowledge (common sense, right?) as we were advised of those lurking about the shipyard with that knowledge.
I definitely didn’t want to meet any of them!